Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

MY INSPIRATION – my dad’s Christmas portrait of me


Today on the blog a picture, not by me but of me. A photo taken by my dad probably about thirty years ago now, and what it means to me…

This image is all about light, the light in my parents sitting room as I help to decorate the christmas tree. It’s one of my all time favourites of my dad’s pictures of me. I love how the image is split into two, the dark area on the left a perfect backdrop to the striking lighting on my face. On the other side, the window area, brightly lit allowing the silhouettes of the branches and the decorations to stand out. We still use those same decorations today.

I love my expression in this picture, such total concentration as I get ready to hand the next item. Outside the edge of the picture I must have been standing on a ladder to get to this height (shown to me now by the top of the window) and so precarious balance is probably adding to the intensity of my gaze.

It must be nearly christmas itself too as I am smartly dressed (unusual then as now) and my hair is neatly brushed (also still unusual). I wonder what the occasion must have been, maybe my cousins were coming to lunch or something else exciting.

Pictures like this take me back to a time and a place, to Christmases over the years and to my parents house and our family traditions. They are good memories and things I am lucky to be reminded of through the power of these photographs. Pictures like this also remind me what an accomplished photographer my dad was and how lucky I have been to have been taught by someone so talented, no mean feat to see a picture like this, be aware of the complexity of the lighting and get the exposure just right to capture this beautiful rim light on my face. It’s a lovely shot and one that I often think of when out on family photography sessions in the run up to Christams. Maybe this year I shall try to recreate it with my niece, I wonder if I can do it so well?

Spread the love