Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family Photography in Kensington – Just One – Toby and Jemima


One of the things that I love about families, particularly about siblings, is the feeling of being a unit; that special bond of being ‘us’, together through thick and thin, sharing experiences throughout our lives. It’s this bond that I hope I have captured in the photograph I am sharing today, a ‘Just One’ from a recent photo shoot in Kensington Gardens in West London.

I have chosen an image of the children together as I feel it captures something of their incredible bond. They played so incredibly well together I actually thought they were closer in age than the two and a half years between them. Toby and Jemima seemed in perfect harmony, giggling together at shared jokes and running happily through the park.

This shot was taken right at the end of our session. We had spotted the long grass on our way across the park but decided that, while hunting lions was a great idea, it was bound to leave the children cold and wet (it’s October after all and the grass is getting damp). We felt this might have cut short our morning’s activity in dramatically grumpy fashion, nobody likes wet feet for their photos, we knew we’d come back to it.

On our return as we headed for home we detoured for a few shoots and while the children did get a little damp I embraced the quest for a better shot and ended up lying flat out on the ground. It was wet but it was worth it as, shooting through the grass, I was able to frame this lovely moment between the children

It’s the body language and expressions that make this picture for me and I love how the shapes and the tones echo the wider image. I love the hands held and the other arms out to the sides – I’m sure completely subconsciously – in mirror of each other. I love the looks between the children each completely engaged with the other, oblivious to the camera pointing at them from within the grass. I love the shape of their arms mirroring the triangle of light at the top of the image and the light tops/dark trousers reflecting back the light foreground of the dew drenched grass and the dark background of the trees behind. Everything mirrored; light, shape and gesture, it has come together perfectly.

I’d love to know what they are saying but that’s for them; the secrets and plans, the schemes and jokes, the stories and the shared history of siblings the world over. It’s a language entirely unique to each family and one that holds it together through the years. I hope that as adults Toby and Jemima will look at this image and smile and perhaps pick up the phone to call each other for a chat and a giggle, a joke and a laugh. If so, then I will have done my job well.

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