Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Dynamic family portrait photography in Chiswick


Action shots make for fun photographs

Today I’m sharing a wonderful photograph from a family session in Chiswick in West London. Chiswick is one of my favourite areas to visit to photograph children as it combines beautiful houses and fabulous parks; the locations are wonderful.

I was particularly looking forward to this session as I’d been recommended by another client which is always lovely and something I really appreciate. I knew we would have a brilliant time taking family photographs and I wasn’t disappointed; we had a fantastic morning together.

I never learnt to play netball at school and it’s something I always wish I had done.  Friends who learnt as teenagers still play in their thirties and forties, meeting new people, having fun, enjoying a team sport with a group of likeminded ladies.  So, while I never played, I love to hear that my clients enjoy the sport.  There’s something wonderful about knowing that these children will be able to take the love of this game into their teens and then maybe their adult lives, playing sports and making friends.

Netball is a hard sport to photograph though, especially in the context of a back garden with limited space to create a composition that is both dynamic and story-telling.  Over the years I’ve tried a number of different approaches and this shot that I’m sharing today is definitely my favourite so far, I absolutely love it.

The composition of this portrait photograph is deceptively simple, a girl jumping in the garden but it’s all the little elements that make it work.

All the necessary components of the story are present.  We can see our subject – it’s a portrait after all.  We can see the action – that jump with both feet off the ground and the ball being shot towards the goal.  And we can see what’s going to happen, the ball and the hoop, both included in the composition.

The eye is guided around the picture from element to element.  We start at the top left corner with the hoop, our eye then travels down the pole to the bottom of the picture.  We look across to the bottom right corner where the flagstone path draws us back into the image, the stones building a rhythm that continues with the uplifted face of our subject and the ball flying through the air.  The spacing is perfect.

The jump itself has wonderful symmetry, both arms upstretched, both feet off the floor, heels together in a perfectly balanced leap.  Jumping in the air, the spacing has worked wonderfully with her head centred in front of the door of the Wendy-house in the garden. Any higher and the top of her head would have cut through the roofline, to either side and it would have covered one of the windows. Centrally it’s powerful with no distractions.

How was it taken? To get this angle I had to climb a ladder which luckily the family were happy for me to borrow.  With the parents kindly holding the bottom to stop me overbalancing as I leant forward to get the perfect composition, I was able to use the amazing autofocus abilities of my Canon 1DX MarkII and the wide angle of the Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L mark II lens which I had bought with me for just this eventuality when I had heard that the girls enjoyed netball.  I’m thrilled with the results.

If you have enjoyed this blog post and would like to see other examples of how I work with older children on photo shoots, then do take a look on my website.  I enjoy photographing children of every age from newborn upwards and the session are always great fun.  If you have been thinking of having your children photographed, then now’s the time to get things in the diary for the summer and autumn before all the prime dates get booked up.  If you are still trying to decide then do take a look at my reviews page to hear from other clients or read recent press coverage both in the UK and abroad.  If you like what you see then do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.