THE VALUE OF FAMILY PORTRAITS
A family portrait session with Su, Geoff, Thomas and Holly
Since turning my passion for photography into a business, I have become more and more inspired by all aspects of portrait photography. I love faces and get a real buzz from connecting with someone through the lens of my camera. More recently I have been asked to photograph children, often with brothers and sisters, and this has involved learning more about how children relate to their siblings and capturing those connections, as well as the individual children. I wanted to build on this and started thinking about photographing the whole family and what this would involve.
So I participated in a fantastic course run by Catherine Connor at Aspire and brilliant photographer Tamara Peel to learn about all the things that would help me build and structure a successful family portrait session, and armed with this additional confidence I decided to undertake my first family portrait session.
I started trying to relate the idea of family photography to my own family. When I thought about it, realised that we only have one picture of us as a family taken just after Laurie our youngest son (now five) was born. It was taken in a Lake District carpark by a complete stranger. I love the picture. It’s not remarkable in any way but it shows us as a family, at a particular point in time. We are happy and had just been for a walk. We had seen an Osprey and some red squirrels. Noah had been messing around just before the photograph was taken and I remember these things every time I look at the picture. We have no other pictures of us all together, as one of us, usually me is generally behind the camera.
I then realised that I have no pictures of my sisters and I with my Mum and Dad from when we were children and that saddens me, because we cannot go back and recapture that time.
Su said the same, that when she stopped to think about it, that someone, usually Geoff was always missing from their photos.
For my first family portrait session I couldn’t have asked for a more lovely and open family to photograph, Su and Geoff are both teachers, and Geoff is also a published author. Going by the name of G.R.Matthews, his books can be found here on Amazon. Thomas and Holly, their two children were brilliant, the whole way through, keen to join in and help out and enjoying the novelty of the experience, (although not the bit where Mum and Dad were kissing!)
We started off the day by chatting and coordinating outfits, taking the first few pictures in the family home. I had not properly met the family and this was a great chance to get to know them a bit more, so we could all relax. We then drove to an old fort in a nearby town to take some location shots. This wasn’t the obvious picturesque backdrop for photographs but I had come across it once before and loved the scale of it, the dilapidated doorways and the colours, as well as the fact that Thomas and Holly would be safe running around in it and have plenty to climb on.
The whole experience was really enjoyable and I felt privileged to spend time with, observe and capture this lovely family together. On editing the images, I realised there were things about families that moved me in the pictures, and on showing the family the images, I learnt about the things that moved them. As Su said families are not models, they have something very real and precious in the way they are together and this is something I definitely want to Explore more in my work.
If you think you may be interested in a family photography session then please contact me to find out more. All details are on the website.