Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family photography in Blackheath – Just One – Ella

04Sep

‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in’
‘No, no, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin’
‘Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in’

I love playing games when I’m taking family photographs and I had such a brilliant time playing with Ella in the garden of her beautiful Blackheath home while her little brother took his mid-morning nap. Over the years I think I have probably acted out most parts in most fairy tales while on various photo shoots (I do a very good big bad wolf ‘big? my teeth? Oh no dear, your Granny always looks like this’) but I have to admit that the Three Little Pigs is a favourite as it has such great characters. It was so much fun taking giant steps around the playhouse while Ella squealed with delight as she shut the doors and windows against the big bad wolf only to fling them open again giggling. Then, as is so often the case with little ones the game moved on ‘big bad wolf, would you like to come inside and play?’ Ella forgot my dastardly plot to eat her! Then I got to be the little pig, crouched inside the playhouse, while the slightly smaller bad wolf tried to lure me out. It was so much fun and I had a brilliant time playing with Ella who is a complete delight to photograph.

The great thing about play when photographing is it creates the opportunity for truly wonderful expressions. There are no ‘cheesy grins’ when in the middle of a game, the camera is forgotten by the children as we laugh and joke while I’m capturing beautiful natural portraits. Expressions like this are, for me, what family photography is all about – natural and happy and full of joy.

It’s important not to get too carried away with the game and forget the technical elements, a great expression is one thing but for a picture to really sing it needs all the other pieces in place. We need strong composition; great use of location and beautiful light. Particularly with black and white photography light is king. And the light here is perfect. By the side of the house we were in a patch of shade and the white wall created incredible reflected light which produced the stunning catch-lights in Ella’s eyes that really make them sparkle.

I love the composition, using the elements of the playhouse to great effect as a frame to the action. I love how Ella, leaning out with her hand on the shutters, gives the image a real feeling of dynamism and life. But most of all I love that expression, so full of happiness.

I’m so pleased with this picture and I hope you will love it too, today’s just one from my family portrait photography session in Blackheath.