Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family Photography in Denmark – Just One – Mette


This summer has been exciting so far. I have travelled a great deal, both in Europe and the UK, to take children’s and family portrait photographs The one trip that I was really looking forward to, however, was this week in Denmark. I’d never been to Denmark before, so to combine two of my favourite things – travel and children’s photography – was a real treat. I was also really looking forward to seeing Mette and Gareth. I have been lucky enough to have been photographing them since 2009 so couldn’t wait to finally see the summer house I’d heard so much about.

A short hop on EasyJet from Gatwick saw me arriving in Copenhagen where Gareth picked me picked up from the airport. We then drove north to the beautiful area of Klint – a stunning costal area which combines wonderful beaches, fabulous forests and lovely summer houses. The houses, all different, each nestled in their own wonderful garden around beautiful tree covered paths. A family photographer’s dream? Oh yes indeed!

The torrential rain that was forecast for the day of our shoot was not quite so promising but luckily most of the storm blew over in the night. As the day dawned, it was chilly but the light was staggering – clouds loomed but there was a silvery feel to the light that I’ve not seen before. It is completely impossible to describe, but wonderful.

Our first stop of the day was at a local jetty for some crabbing. This provided one of my favourite shots from the day. It was raining as we arrived but we weren’t daunted. Fishing lines and nets to the ready, we immediately got down to business. Mette had promised me we would catch ‘five crabs in ten minutes’. I was sceptical – and I was wrong. Five crabs were caught in double-quick time. I was very impressed indeed!

This shot was taken just before we left the jetty to move our shoot along to the cliffs the children wanted to climb. Before leaving, the children walked to the end of the jetty to look out to sea. I wanted a shot that captured the feeling of this astonishing place – a picture that really showed the expanse of sea and the incredible glittering light made all the more magical by the looming rain clouds. As fate would have it, this is the kind of picture that wouldn’t have worked so well with a clear blue sky. The clouds give needed texture and added interest to the image.

I chose the jetty to really emphasise the scale of the landscape. In fact I spent much of the crab-catching time lying flat considering different ways to use the various shapes of the Jetty. The fabulous leading lines work to create a composition that takes full advantage of this wonderful place. I’m so lucky to get to photograph children in such interesting environments! The challenge is to work out how to make the very best of these glorious locations in my images.

I love the body language of the children – you can tell that Karoline is explaining something to her little brother and how carefully he is listening. Karoline, holding the pole that helps the bathers climb out of the water, looks as if she is holding a walking stick. Somehow, this detail makes the image appear to be the depiction of a journey that needs to be embarked upon. If I was being ‘flowery’, I would say that this journey element along with the expanse of wide-open sea, suggests a metaphor for the journey of life – the children are growing up and looking to the future. There again, it might be that they are trying to spot Sweden. Only they can know. Either way, it adds resonance to the image. This photograph with its graphic shapes and lines, glorious light and texture, is also about two child siblings and friends having the most wonderful summer in a beautiful country.

I love it and I hope you will too, today’s Just One from my recent family photography shoot in Denmark.

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