Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Dancing in the Sunlight – A Portrait of Sisters


Bright Sunlight Provides Creative Opportunities

The weather this week is bizarre, pouring rain one-minute, bright sunlight the next. It feels like forever ago that it was settled and warm and yet it was only a couple of weeks that it still felt summery. Autumn seems to have come quickly this year, one moment I’m playing in a sprinkler, five days later I’m collecting conkers. I do love it though, I have always been a huge fan of autumn for family photo shoots, the warm days feel like gifts, the low light is stunning and there’s the feeling of excitement in the air as crisp mornings give way to golden days.

Today I’m sharing a picture from a recent session that was on a day where we had incredible weather. It was unseasonably warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was glorious and felt like the perfect end to the summer photography session.

Each shoot I choose a single image to share here on the blog – a sneak peek for my clients as they wait for the viewing session, and because it’s always such a pleasure to share new work. I like to give regular readers a sense of what I’ve been up to and give potential clients who are exploring my website for the first time a feeling for the type and variety of images that I produce. As anyone who reads regularly will know, each week is different, every day offers up wonderful possibilities for me to create new and interesting images whatever the weather and whatever we happen to be doing.

It can be hard though, to choose a single image, when we’ve had such a wonderful time together and there are so many different pictures that I love.

This image caught my eye for a number of different reasons. I’ve been lucky enough to have been photographing this family regularly since the eldest was tiny. I remember on our first photo shoot in a west London park she took tentative steps between her parents as she was just learning to walk. It feels forever ago, but also like yesterday. Time has flown by and both these girls have become such fantastic young people, I love hanging out with them and I love taking their pictures.

This shot feels so incredibly summery. A bright sunny day can create problems for us as photographers with very harsh contrasty light, but it also gives opportunities for dramatic images if we choose to work with the light and make it part of our pictures. Here the bright light on the girls almost acts as a spotlight, pulling them forward in the image. The wonderful thick trees and the glimpse of the glasshouse in the background gives the image place and context.

The bright sunlight mirrors the girl’s bright expressions and the wonderful combination of sunglasses and the lovely rainbow t-shirts. I was told how they were known as the ‘rainbow girls’ on their summer holiday when they wore their favourite t-shirts, such a lovely description so full of joy.

I love how they are perfectly in step, both only touching the ground with one tiptoe as they skip forward, dancing in the light. I love how their hands are held, siblings and friends, on lifes adventure together. And I love the expressions, big grins with the gaps from Hannah’s missing teeth visible and really anchoring this image in time. It’s fleeting that stage with teeth falling out and one I vividly remember as a child although I don’ think there are any pictures that record it. That grin will have changed by next year as the new teeth will have grown, I’m so glad we have captured it now.

The laughs will remain the same forever though, so much part of their personalities and the joy that their company brings.