I had the most amazing time photographing Slawek and his family in London’s Hyde Park recently. The family were visiting from Poland and Slawek felt it would be a great opportunity for some portraits of the girls and some pictures that captured their wonderful personalities.
We had the most amazing time; it was one of those photo shoots that I will remember for a long time, so full of laughter even though the girls and I didn’t share a common language. I’m always amazed by how much of a connection can be forged with smiles, and laughter, and games.
After a brilliant start playing in the leaves and enjoying a run around in the playground we stopped to warm up with coffee and cake. After refueling I thought it would be fun to teach the girls about feeding the squirrels, one of my favourite activities as a child. When we were little it was such a treat to go to the park with a bag of nuts and see if we could get a squirrel to eat out of our hands, I thought the girls would love it. Usually London squirrels are shameless, heading straight for you when they hear the rustle of a plastic bag but on this day it was the pigeons that were the star of the show.
Truly, I have never seen anything like it. I have vague memories of pigeons landing on people’s outstretched hands in Trafalgar Square back in the 80s but I’ve never seen it in a park. It was amazing; as we tried to attract the squirrels the first pigeon arrived, landing on Slawek’s wife Anna’s hand much to the delight of her daughters. And then, suddenly, a pigeon landed on four year old Maja’s shoulder and I got this picture, on that I think will be heading straight for my portfolio.
I love her look of absolute delight as the pigeon lands, it’s wings outstretched perfectly (thank goodness for the motor-drive). I took a series of pictures but this is my favourite, the feeling of movement, the utter delight, it’s a picture that I know I will come back to again and again and which will, I hope, make the family laugh for many years to come.
The great thing about family photo shoots is their unpredictability, never quite knowing what will happen next. My job as a photographer is in reacting to these situations and using my skill to create images that record the moment in a beautiful fashion. Creating an image in a split second is so much fun and why I truly believe I have the very best job in the world.