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I loved every second of this action packed shoot. Why? Well apart from the magnificent sunset, the family hardly noticed I was there. For me this is the definition of a perfect shoot. It was only during editing that I really got a chance to see the boys beautiful little faces properly for the first time. On the actual day in real time, they were moving so fast that I only saw the backs of their heads as they ran. Luckily I keep my shutter speed set to super speedy, capturing little people faster than I can see. These little boys ran, kicked, climbed and scrambled, not stopping for a second. Parents often panic that their children will ‘misbehave’ during a shoot. Well to be honest after raising my two raucous children, quite frankly I expect children to ‘misbehave’. Run, be wild, be free. They are not designed to be still, so why photograph them unmoving and posed?
During a typical shoot I try to spend the first 10 minutes doing the more standard group photographs while I still have the children (and Dad’s!) attention. I have a small confessions: this is my least favourite part of the shoot. I chuckled to myself when I asked this family to stand together at the start of the shoot. They looked slightly horrified at the idea, and I knew then that we were onto something good. Don't get me wrong, I do believe there is a place for the posed group family shot. We all want one, and it has it’s place. Mostly to gather dust on granny’s mantlepiece. For me documenting real family life lies in the images that celebrate children as they really are, and that is all about capturing movement, connection, joy, delight, surprise and oodles and oodles of love.
"I'll wait for you under the bluebells. I'll be there always." Kim Harrison
It's hard not to be happy when you are surrounded by this intense beauty. All on my doorstep too. I may moan about the English weather being an antipodean, but then there is nothing quite like the ancient magic of an English spring.
It's taken a little while but I'm so pleased to finally put together some images from this photo shoot where I met with my most favourite teacher for the first time in well over 30 years. We met her wonderful family on a cool autumn morning in the woods, while my children and her grandchildren played and foraged in the forest. It was so good to catchup with this special teacher from my childhood that I was very lucky to have. She has the rare ability to make everyone in her class feel special and valued. For me the year spent in her class was a refuge from what was a dreary, dull and mostly unhappy school career. It is no surprise that she has kept in contact with so many of her past students. Meeting her now as a mother I am amazed at how she appeared to effortlessly raise 3 boys and teach us all at the same time. It's funny how your perspective on life changes through your experience of it.
My children came along that morning. As one of her grandchildren is very camera shy, the plan was to distract them and it worked. They didn't bat an eyelid at the crazy lady with the big camera. I was secretly very proud of my daughter, as she played with the two younger children. Almost without asking she knew where the best patches of light were and directed their games towards them. It was a wonderful feeling to have my firstborn with me on a shoot as a secret ally. I couldn't help but feel immensely proud of my little photographer’s daughter. I should bring her along to my shoots more often. The only difficulty came later when I needed to edit my two children out of the family portraits!
I am part of a photographers blog circle which keeps me inspired and motivated to post at least once a month. When you have finished here be sure to have a look at the amazing contribution by Anna-Liisa Nixon, South Florida Documentary Family Photographer. http://annaliisanixon.com/blog/february-local-outings-blog-circle-hollywood-beach-fl/
Here a few images of the last shoot of 2016, taken a few days shy of Christmas. It was on the beach in my home town, Durban. A dream location for sure, despite the wind and the odd spot of rain on my lens which was covered in thick sea spray after about 30 seconds! It’s funny how every shoot has it’s unique challenges and this shoot was no different. I learn something new every time. (In this case, wipe lens constantly when on a super windy beach!) I was lucky enough to photograph a Christmas reunion for this beautiful extended Durban family. It’s such a wonderful idea to capture the whole family in a brief moment in time. I feel like a cheesy salesman saying this, but really it is priceless.
Often I catch myself as the word ‘home’ slips off my tongue. I have not lived in Durban for over 10 years now, and the term confuses some people. Technically it is no longer my ‘home’ at all. This is the place filled with memories that whisper to me from the moment the aeroplane hits the tarmac. To say that I miss this colourful tropical city and the ocean is an understatement. I love the collective sigh that settles over the city in the evening, as the warm Berea breeze washes away the busy heat of the day. I love watching the endless stream of container ships on the horizon travelling to far away places. I love the slow shushing of the sea, and how it instantly calms me. I love how the sound of lone cars in the evening ricochets across long colonial veranda’s, around the high ceilings and back down to uneven, lovingly well worn wooden floors. I love the light, the lush green tropical bush. It’s the sound and sights of my childhood. A bitter sweet return filled wth memories and longing. Not only do I miss the place, but I miss people who are no longer with us. In a sense the place I miss is no longer really there. Instead it is the place I return to in my dreams.
If you are a new Mum, or have just moved to Surrey then this might come in handy. If you have been here a few years like me then you’ll know these places like the back of your hand. It’s priceless information I wish I knew when I first moved here from London 6 years ago, and I didn't know a soul. I also didn't know where a single playgroup or playground was. It was hard, but 6 years and 2 children later I think I have learnt a thing or two about where to take the kids during the long, long summer holidays. Sometimes days at home are good, but often you need to get out to keep everybody sane. Here’s a little guide of my favourite places to take the kids in the Summer holidays. If you can find just one new place from this list below that you didn't know about, then I’ll be thrilled.
1. Garsons Farm, Esher. Flower, fruit and vegetable picking. This is a special day out with a difference. You can pick flowers, fruit and vegetables in season. It’s quite a unique experience to come home with bags of delicious vegetables and fruit that you picked yourself! Really great fun and you can pretend to be a real farmer for the day. There is also a farm shop and a wonderful sun filled cafe sitting on the edge of the fields. Heaven!
2. Priory Farm Discovery Walk. Really inexpensive day out, with a toddlers trail though Priory Farm. A beautiful walk thought the farm and forests with activities for kids all along the way. You can buy fish food at the ticket stall and feed the fish in the lake. In August the amazing Sunflower Maze is spectacular. You can take your own picnic to the Discovery Walk. There is an small coffee shop by the Discovery Walk, as well as a restaurant within Priory Nursery which has great play equipment in an enclosed area to keep the kids happy and busy.
2. RHS Garden Wisley. Fantastic activities for kids though out the summer in the educations centre. Wisley has a wonderful natural playground area called “Wild at Wisley”. My kids love the greenhouse too, and I have to drag them out of the underground root display every time. We have a annual pass as it is very inexpensive and absolutely worth it.
4. Guilford Lido Swimming Pool - Save for sunny summer days. I’ve yet to try this myself but it looks great, with an outdoor pool and slides. I think I go there next week if this great weather continues.
5. Tandridge Leisure Centre Swimming Pool - Good for rainy days as it’s indoors. Cafe, wave pool, small indoor slide, a few ride on boats to play with. Keeps my toddler busy for ages.
6. Rollerskating at Reigate College: Sundays at 11.30 to 12.30. Perfect for when it is raining on a weekend and you really need to let the kids burn off some steam. It's very inexpensive, and they also offer lessons at a very reasonable rates.
7. Hobbledown. Not the cheapest day out but they have loads of summer activities on. Facepainting, puppet shows, falconry displays, bouncy tube things, and a zip wire for older kids etc. I get the annual pass which makes it a bit more affordable. We use the indoor play barn a lot when it’s raining, which is a life saver in the winter months too.
8. Mayfield Lavender Farm. A totally unique experience. There is something quite special about running down the aisles of lavender. Feeling waves of hot summer air mixed with lavender scent brushing past your face. It is quite exhilarating. I’m usually sprinting after my toddler, but it’s loads of fun and makes for really special photos, so take your camera! On site at the farm there is a small shop selling lavender and a cafe with and much needed ice cream and snacks. The fields are at their best from June to mid August. I was there last week and they were harvesting the crop. I will miss it!
9. Priory Park, Reigate. In summer this park gets busy. Really busy. Best to go very early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. In the summer months they turn on the water fountains and if you close your eyes a little it’s a bit like a day on holiday at the beach. Without the cost of a plane ticket and hotel accommodation which is great as the park is free! The adjacent cafe is good for ice creams and much needed coffee for those who got no sleep the night before with little ones. That sleep deprived coffee needing person is usually me!
10. South Bank, London: OK so it’s not Surrey but it’s a short train ride away. It’s my favourite place in London in the summer and offers a little reminder of my life in the city before children. Gigantic bubble displays and street performers on South Bank keep my two enthralled. South Bank offers great art, great food, beautiful vistas of London, access to the London Eye, London Aquarium and more. You can do as much or as little as you want here, and the possibilities are endless. It’s useful to note that there is a lovely little playground behind the London Eye which is really handy for small children to run around before the train ride home.
Gosh I am amazed you have made it this far! I hope this list has given you some fresh ideas for the final week or two of summer.
I have just joined a photographers blog circle to keep me inspired and motivated to post at least once a month. It’s hard to keep the momentum going with small children and these months just fly by. When you have finished here be sure to have a look at the contribution by Molly VanDamme, of Madison Documentary and Lifestyle Photography.
is a little bit of childhood
that can never be lost.
- Marion C. Garret
It was a privilege to photograph these two beautiful sisters in the Lavender fields early in July. There is something quite special about running down the aisles of lavender. Your face feels waves of hot summer air mixed with pockets of lavender scent that brushes past your cheeks as you run. It is quite is exhilarating. Usually I am running after my toddler here, but in this case I was lucky enough to be photographing these delightful girls.
We played flower princesses yesterday in the garden, and this is the result. I’m not sure who had more fun but I have a sneaky suspicion it was me. I was pleased to finally get one half of my final backdrop assignment for the CLG Advanced Course completed with these. All the stars were finally in alignment with the toddler asleep, the rain had just stopped, the 6 year old was feeling co-operative, and willing to be my flower princess for a few seconds. I had been wanting a shot of her lying in a field of daises that have been flowering recently, and are just SO amazing. But she was having none of it, finding the grass was too scratchy, and too many bugs etc, etc. But I managed to get these yesterday, using flowers from the garden. Not the original idea, but not too far off. A bit of a cliche perhaps, but what girl doesn't secretly hide an inner flower princess.
Earlier this week I completed Summer Murdock’s Magic of Light Workshop. I was so excited to get a seat as they are quite hard to come by. The past 3 weeks have been a complete whirlwind, and I loved every second of it. Here are a few light studies that I worked on for the course. I can’t wait to see how these new tools that I have learnt will impact my work in the coming months. I have so many new techniques to master, and I feel like I’m just at the very beginning!
"Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale." Hans Christian Andersen
In the chaos of everyday life, it may not feel like it, but there is always a little magic if you find the time to be still, stop and observe. It's partly why I just love photography. It forces you to just be in the moment, and look for joy and light that is all around you.