Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Just One – black and white children’s portrait photography in Kensington, London


I’ve always loved including architectural details in my children’s portrait photographs. It’s an element that adds real scale to an image and takes it away from the norm to create an image that is memorable; with an interesting composition, great light, wonderful expressions and interaction between the subjects that shows a real bond; an image that will stay with the viewer whether they know the subjects or not. It’s this idea of taking pictures that are at once incredibly personal to my clients, whilst still being universal to the subject of childhood, that drives me forward with my work.

I love this photograph, today’s ‘Just One’ preview image, as I think it does all these things. I’ve been lucky enough to be taking children’s portrait photographs for Olga and her lovely family since 2006 when the twins were about eight months old. Our annual family photo shoots are something I look forward to all year – we always have such good fun and each year I take some of my favourite pictures of the year, and this is one of those favourite shots.

We had a great session for this year’s family portraits, starting our shoot by taking pictures in St James Park in central London. We had a lovely time exploring the park and feeding the squirrels until, half way through the morning, it started to tip down with rain. I’m all for shooting pictures in a bit of drizzle, but this rain was torrential and after a few pictures that really sum up a British childhood (complete with umbrellas and clearly depicted rain), we decided that we really needed to head indoors.

Olga and her family live in Kensington so we decided to head back to that end of town and shelter in one of the wonderful museums. While the children explored, I took a few discreet pictures and this one is an absolute favourite. The magnificent window in the museum creates a perfect frame for the two children, and I love how the interaction between them is so clear and so happy – I’ve always thought being a twin must be fun.

It’s an image that works so perfectly in black and white – my chosen medium for all my family portrait work – capturing a real sense of place, and the lovely backlight illuminating the children. By removing the colour detail, we have an image that is completely timeless – showing the relationship between the twins, so personal and unique to these lovely children, and yet as a picture of siblings enjoying each others company in one of London’s most incredible museums, it’s a universal image – an image that could have been taken in the 1950s or today. It’s everything that I aim for in my work – I love it and I hope you will enjoy it too – today’s ‘Just One’ preview from my recent children’s portrait photography session in Kensington, London.

Spread the love