Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Wimbledon Child Portrait


A beautiful and soulful portrait

Over the course of a family photography session I aim to take a wide variety of pictures.  I’m lucky, I get to spend the whole morning with my clients.  I take my time getting to know everyone, finding out what interests the children and enjoying jokes and games.  I set my business up to allow me to work in this way as I wanted to take pictures that transcended the cheesy grins of school photographs or the choreographed fun of some studio images, particularly those that were popular when I started my business back in 2003. I wanted to take pictures that I felt caught something special, that showed the essence of the subject in front of my camera.  This is still my main aim when I arrive at my client’s home, how will I work with the children to create something special?

I knew I was in for a treat when I arrived at Amanda’s house and met her children.  Boisterous, funny, a little over-excited and but also perhaps a little bit shy, a little bit unsure what the morning would bring, whether they would enjoy having their picture taken.  In these situations, my job is to make things fun, introduce the idea that the children lead the session and so it won’t be boring because we will be doing what they like to do.  Then, we can get past the nervous face pulling to create beautiful portraits.

I find this early stage of a portrait shoot fascinating.  I have to make friends quickly, find something to talk about (I love how my love of children’s and young adult fiction so often gives me common ground, what would I do without Percy Jackson and the Murder Most Unladylike books).

By the time we had got to Wimbledon Common the boys were warming up to the camera and it wasn’t far into the shoot when I took this picture, one of my favourites from the whole day.

Milo had been climbing a tree, clearly a favourite activity, and then when his brother joined him in the branches he moved forward to get out of the way of the pictures.  As he settled down on the branch, relaxing, I realised that this was where the image lay.  This chilled out portrait where Milo looks straight into the camera lens with this incredible penetrating gaze, totally comfortable and confident and with a fantastic natural smile.

I love the composition too with Milo’s brother Freddie in the background, having followed his brother onto the tree now making lots of noise, filling the space with his energy while his older brother relaxes, letting the action surround him.  I only met the boys for a few hours, but I wonder if this epitomises their relationship, younger brother, hero worshiping (as I did with my amazing holder brothers) wanting to impress, to amuse, and of course on occasion to wind-up their older sibling.  Making sure to do what the older sibling had done but more so and then the chilled out older child, letting it carry on around them, doing their own thing, amused by their playmate and friend. I love how you can see this relationship in the image, siblings and friends, these fantastic brothers.

For me, this picture has it all, a portrait but with context.  An image that tells me where we are and about these brothers and their close relationship.  It’s everything that I look for in an image and I hope you like it as much as I do. Today’s Just One from a recent family photography session in Wimbledon.