Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family Photography with St Paul’s Cathedral


Family Photography on the South Bank of the Thames with St Paul's Cathedral

Today I’m sharing an example of family photography with St Pauls Cathedral. My family photography is all about memories. Memories for parents of when their children were young; the things they did together, the games they played the fun they had. Memories for the children of their childhood world; their homes, the parks they played in, the streets they explored, the time they spent with their mum and dad zooming down slides of shrieking in delight as they are pushed on the swings. Memories are so important and it’s such a privilege to be invited into my clients lives to document these for them.

I particularly love it when a photo shoot has a special meaning or event that has meant that the session happens now rather than next month or next year. For this lovely family an impending move meant it was important to record their lives now, in the home they live in and the streets they have walked for the last few years before school beckons and a move across London brings new adventures and new memories.

We spent a wonderful morning together on the South Bank of the Thames recording all the things that this lovely family do together. In the course of four hours we managed to pack so much in from the sites outside the front door – the Tate, the Millennium Bridge and Borough Market to two different playgrounds that have been so important at different times in the last few years, one near their current flat, one near the last one. We also took pictures at home, favourite toys and books were recorded in images that will transport the family back to this special time.

Before the session we had spoken on the phone and had a chat about what the morning might entail and any particular things that would be important to record in pictures. One thing that was mentioned was the view from the balcony with the fantastic vista of London and St Paul’s dominating the skyline. I knew Ii wanted to find a good way to incorporate this into a picture and take a beautiful family portrait with St Paul’s Cathedral.

Balconies are hard photographically, there’s very little space and so finding an interesting angle can create a challenge. I love a challenge.

I used all the space available to me and a wide 35mm lens to ensure I could get both the subjects and the background in the frame. I then crouched down placing my camera up against the glass door to incorporate the reflection and also the leading lines created by the balcony rail. I got the composition and then waited for the story. As Minal lent through the door it all came to life. The picture becomes about connections, each family member looks at the other, each with wonderful expressions, Scott looking down proudly at his daughter as she looks up at her mum with a huge smile. I love how their legs are both crossed, mirroring each other’s body language. Our eyes are drawn to them by the lines of the balcony and also by the reflected triangles from either side of the image taking in St Paul’s as well top left to centre, bottom left to centre, top right to centre, bottom right to centre. Every element of the image works to create this picture.

But what makes it is the expressions and there we are back at memories of family and love which is what it is all about.

I hope you like this example of family photography with St Paul’s Cathedral as much as I do. If you would like to record memories for your family, wherever you live and whatever you love to do together or even if you are visiting London on vacation, then do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.