Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Greenwich Family Photographer – Just One – Caroline


Expect the unexpected is my maxim with children and family photography and that was certainly the case for my recent family photography session with wonderful toddler twins in Greenwich Park in South East London. A shoot that I had been looking forward to since Caroline had booked it in earlier in the summer. I love Greenwich Park, as regular readers will know it is the park of my own childhood, full of memories for me and also a wonderful location for children and family photography.

It was a beautiful morning for my photo shoot with Caroline and I waked across Blackheath to Greenwich Park thinking, as I often do, how lucky I am to have a job that gets me out in the open air. The birds were singing and the sun was glancing across the grass as I headed for the park.

We met as planned near the gate and I was thrilled to be greeted by two cheeky grins from Caroline’s wonderful twin boys. I love photographing toddlers as it’s always so hilarious – the seirousness with which two year olds approach all things, from gruffllo hunting to chasing squirrels, is always a delight – I was particularly impressed by the building of ‘offices’ out of logs later in the shoot so the boys could settle undisturbed to ‘do important work’. Wonderful!

But the shot that caught my imagination and the shot that I have chosen for today’s just one has a rather different feel – today’s shot includes the lovely folk from British Military Fitness who train at the park on a weekend.

We had been playing on the bandstand – the boys scooting around on their skuttlebugs (is that the best name for a scooter ever?) and I was looking for the best angle and approach to get something really exciting and innovative from this wonderful location. It was a good day for inspiration – look out for some brilliant shadow play on the full blog which I will publish soon. We had stopped for a snack – Angus had nipped back to the car and the boys, who had been running around non-stop for an hour, were pleased to refuel with mini sweet corn and a drink. Sitting on the side of the bandstand we suddenly heard feet coming towards us and realised that the circuit training going on behind us was about to involve a number of laps of the bandstand.

Caroline had trained with British Military Fitness before and she, her husband Angus, and I are all keen runners – we had been discussing the best routes for marathon training in south London and so it seemed a great plan to include these runners in the shot.

In situations like this where something unexpected happens it’s challenging to think fast and to come up with something cool. I wanted to get a wider shot to include lots of runners and I have always loved the graphic shapes upon shapes of the bandstand and the paved area around it. I wanted to use the runners and the feeling of movement to emphasis this shape and so it was important to have them framing the picture. I also needed them to be perfectly spaced so that they guide our eyes to the boys and Caroline and don’t distract us from them. It has worked brilliantly, the runners turning towards the boys, smiling, lead our eyes straight to them and the smiling faces of the happy family (shouting encouragement ‘Go on number 16, you can do it number 50!, keep going number 5!) you can’t help but smile. The shapes of the top of the bandstand, the edge of the bandstand and the edge of the path, all curved and all mirroring these smiling faces it works brilliantly as a composition.

I love it – it all came together so perfectly. It’s the kind of shot that could have just not worked at all and I’m so glad that I managed to bring everything together to create this lovely happy shot, a picture that really sums up playing in Greenwihc Park on a weekend morning, the sense of community among runners, and the wonderful way that everyone shares the lovely outdoor spaces we are so lucky to have in this amazing city of London.

I hope you like it as much as I do – todays’ just one from our children and family photography session in Greenwich Park.

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