Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Just One – Thomas on the bridge – children’s portrait photography


Today on the blog, I’m delighted to share this ‘Just One’ preview image from a recent family photography session. I knew I was going to love this picture as soon as I saw Thomas run towards this lovely wooden bridge. The sides and the planks at the bottom of the bridge would make such great leading lines, and so I found myself running after him, dropping down to my knees for the correct angle (you can tell a children’s photographer at this time of year, we are the ones dressed in waterproof trousers), and then waiting for him to turn round. I had a feeling he would stop and check that his parents and I were keeping up, not getting left behind or having any thoughts about not playing the game.

As I crouched down, Thomas looked around and gave this lovely quizzical look, checking that we were following before he ran further on. I love how you can see his right foot, poised for further scampering. It’s a picture that really makes me laugh as it’s such a toddler moment – running off, looking round to check they are being followed, and then off again at a pace. Running, checking, laughing – it’s all such good fun.

Years ago, I went on an elephant trek in Nepal. One of the elephants had had a baby and this baby elephant did just the same thing – it would run off into the undergrowth and then stop, look round, check its mother was following, and then run off again. Occasionally, realising it had gone just a touch too far, it would wheel round and be back by its mothers side in moments. It was a fantastic day and really made me think about how similar all children are, be they incredibly cute small boys or boisterous baby elephants!

This is also a picture about composition and about premeditation. As a professional children’s portrait photographer, I have to work so quickly, to see what is around us, and what might be coming next. I then have to work very, very fast to create a well-composed shot in a fraction of a second, before the action has moved on. I’d never seen this bridge before but as soon as I did see it, I had to think, what is Thomas likely to do? What will make a good picture? What angle will be best for an interesting and exciting composition? What about the light? How will I manage the strong side light and make sure I have a good exposure on Thomas’s face without loosing detail elsewhere? All these thoughts go through my head so quickly and then ‘click’, the shutter is pressed and it’s on to the next thing. It’s this speed of working and thinking on my feet that makes children’s photography such fun, and drives me to create new and original photographs on each and every session. Pictures that will make my clients smile, and look fantastic hung on the wall.

I do hope you enjoy this, today’s ‘Just One’ preview image from a recent children’s and family portrait session.

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