Martha

Martha is my friend's hen, who seems to prefer humans to chickens. Every evening when it's time to be put away into the hen house, she refuses to go in, and instead prefers the warmth and human contact in the farmhouse kitchen.

When I woke up at the farm this week, I found Rwbi standing in the kitchen in the beautiful light and asked her to hold Martha while I grabbed my camera. The portrait wasn't planned and that's why I think there's a feeling of spontaneity and authenticity about it. It's been said that as a photographer, one should click the shutter only when you feel something. I love the painterly effect that winter light brings, with all its shadows creating a Vermeer type of quiet portrait.

Italy

Pictures from a summer spent in Italy, where all my senses came to life after too much time spent in London! Waking up to the sound of monastery bells ringing in the surrounding hills was so good for the soul. We soon got into a routine of waking up early for coffee so as to not to miss the beautiful morning light.  Italy is such a beautiful place; the ripe and colorful food, the sound of the crickets in the midday sun, the warmth of the Italian people...I loved every minute of it there, just hanging out together and enjoying a slower pace of life.

 

A recent family portrait session in London

Here's a very summery 'at home' session with a lovely family in Stoke Newington.

All of my commissioned family sessions these days are based in the home, as it's where families are most comfortable, and where I find the best portraits can be taken. I love this creative family's home, and the pictures tell a good story of a fun morning that we spent on a sunny Sunday in July.

Derbyshire

On a recent trip up north to Derbyshire to visit my family, we stayed in a small converted barn recently and lovingly restored by our friends. Our eldest had to remain at home in order to revise for her exams, but I think she rather enjoyed the peace and the occasional gathering too! Edale, where we were based, is set in the Peak District; famous for being one of the most spectacular spots in Britain to go walking. My husband suggested a leisurely stroll around the hills...5 hours later we returned home having climbed (in a most unladylike fashion) to the top of Kinder Scout. Locals looked quizically at our trainers and the strange route we had chosen for the final climb on all fours up the mountain.

If you would like to stay at the lovely barn we stayed in yourself, take a peak here for more details. There's lots more to do in the local area as you will discover on the barn's website. We did swim at the fabulous heated Lido at Hathersage which is surrounded by hills and is a great example of 1950's design, but I have yet to publish a photo of the pool on instagram (after getting into a long discussion with an outspoken local lady about iphones and social media destroying the way in which we relate to one another whilst trying to do so) but that's another story!

Easter

This spring we went to the farm in Wales and all my childhood memories came flooding back from the moment we arrived. When I was the same age that my kids are now, we spent many hours attempting to round up sheep on the farm in the same way...for us townies it was a baptism of fire and those days are among my fondest recollections of family holidays! As soon as we got out of the car from our long journey we were needed to round up the sheep and their lambs that had got out of their field. The boys found a one day old lamb who'd lost it's mother, so they wrapped it in a towel and waited for the farmer to arrive and reunite Mum and her baby. Rounding up sheep is not my strong point, and I found it most annoying that I couldn't move around to take pictures for fear of loosing them again! The rest of our Easter was spent hanging out with our friends, with the kids collecting chicken and goose eggs everyday, and all of us enjoying the feeling of being far from the big smoke. Roll on summer now.....

Henri's decisive moment...what did he mean?

In his book The photographer's eye by J. Szarkowski, he talks about Henri Cartier-Bresson's theory of the decisive moment, "decisive not because of an exterior event (the bat meeting the ball) but because in that moment the flux of changing forms and patterns was sensed to have achieved balance and clarity and order- because the image became for an instant a picture. We see here in his photograph 'Madrid' that the windows in the building are integral to the composition, where he creates complex layering using passers by and the busy group of kids in the foreground, one of whom has caught our eye.

Madrid- Henri Cartier-Bresson 1933

Madrid- Henri Cartier-Bresson 1933

It fascinates me that this theory is still relevant today, many years after Bresson made his discoveries with his camera whist the medium of 35mm cameras was still fresh. As well as being a classic rule of thumb for street photographers like Bresson, we can also translate this way of seeing to many other genres today...wedding photography, family in home photo journalistic sessions and even the photographs we take on family holidays. Here I will talk about a few decisive moments I caught, or nearly caught in some cases, although what constitutes such a moment is still fairly subjective according to the viewer so I am always interested to hear your thoughts too.

 

I used to call some types of moment I like to photograph 'in between moments'. Further scrutiny makes me realize that these type of images were all taken at moments that were not particularly significant in any way other than the picture had come together. They are often moments directly before or after what everyone else present at the scene thinks of as the defining moment... as photographers we must be ready to click the shutter when everything comes together for us to say what we are trying to say. Perhaps our subjects are caught for a moment unguarded; it might be a moment of contemplation, humor, chaos, pensive thought or sheer joy that you want to capture. The fundamental aspect that is integral to a decisive moment is that all the elements have come together within the camera frame, presenting the photographer with an opportunity to make a picture that works as a two dimensional image. It is partly down to luck, and partly down to keen observation- a one chance only gift from the universe offered up to the photographer who seeks to find it. In the first of three parts, I will talk about some of my own decisive moment images.

Photo journalism at home with families

Here, my family were engrossed in the crossword puzzle-their concentration makes the mood seem rather somber, although in reality we were surrounded by friends sipping wine and noisy toddlers running about as we all enjoyed a warm summer evening in the garden . The subjects eyes are all focusing on the same point, and the semi circular way in which they are arranged draws our eye round in a circular motion.

When we scheduled this family session we didn't realize that a turn of events would mean the youngest member of the family would be being tube fed. The parents were thinking of postponing, but in the end we decided that there's never a good time to have photographs taken, and to seize the opportunity to embrace their family at whatever phase it happened to be in. It was a decision none of us regretted, and they loved their images in the end. Here, the family groups together on the bed whilst Mum, who is also a nurse, prepares the tube for feeding the freshly woken baby. If her hand had moved just a hair, we wouldn't see the eldest daughters face, but as it is we can see everyone clearly.  The layering of all the subjects adds depth to the image and the baby holds our attention at the center of the composition.

This image was taken after a long hike in the rural countryside near my sisters house. It had started to rain and so we had all run back through the narrow lanes for the last part of the walk. Whilst I had taken my camera along thinking I would take pictures on the walk, it is this moment by the back door before we dried off the dogs, where I managed to get an image with good layering and with everyone looking as though they are suspended in time. As with Bressons image, one child smiles back at the lens, acknowledging my presence, and my sister peeps round the door, attempting to avoid the camera and call the kids in.

In a portrait it is not always necessary to have your subject facing the camera. I wanted to get a seagull in the frame, so I took this low down viewpoint in the hope that one would fly past. Without the seagull, the surroundings wouldn't be recognized as the seaside, and there would be a lot of empty space on the right, which would say something totally different.

When Mum booked me for this photo journalistic day in the life session she asked for at least one photo of all three boys in the frame. I don't think she expected this, but they're all there, without being posed and being allowed to just be themselves. I guess its a 'no no' to have a tree coming out of a subjects head, but the powerful gaze of the boy in the front keeps our eye in the foreground space, so it doesn't matter as much to me.

Oscar, the family dog who was already there years before both kids, walks past the bed, taking the arrival of the new baby in his stride. I love that this family, who are actually old friends making my job easy, welcomed me into their home first thing in the morning, and are far too preoccupied in the important job of looking after a toddler and newborn to worry about mess on the side table or clothes on the chair.

When I saw this scruffy back door entrance, full of character because this side of the house is built into rock,I knew I wanted to look out for a good image there. As with street photography, in-home family journalism is also about finding a good frame and waiting for the action to happen within that frame.

Not many photographers would ever pose their subjects like this-me included! Normally it would look so awkward, but because the girls are twins, the way in which they are momentarily mirroring each other works. The space surrounding them is fairly clear, and their center stage position and the strong repeated triangles of their elbows keep our gaze in the center of the frame. They appear happy to be squashed together, reminding us of the bond they had in the womb.

 

 

Day in the life

I offer day in the life photo journalistic in home sessions as well as portrait sessions which are more directed. These no fuss 4 hour sessions are a great opportunity for you to create a visual record of your life as it is now, with all of you in the frame. It works for any family as long as there are two or more of you. We will record all the routines and activities that you normally do in your daily life. There's no direction and no posing, making it possible for you to carry on as normal, knowing that in future years you'll be able to remind yourself exactly what life feels like now. In my family we have a gifted movie maker among us, who has been making short films of us when he visits over the years...I never notice him doing the filming as we get so used to his camera and family life is so chaotic, but when we receive a film as a surprise a few years later its always so amazing! I honestly think they're the best presents I've ever got for Christmas. I can't tell you how much these little records of our everyday family life mean to us....sometimes we can barely remember doing the things we're doing in the film, in homes that we moved from long ago, so its so amazing to be able to revisit these times again.

My photo journalistic approach to these special sessions have a strong storytelling narrative thread running through them, which means they look great all together in a softcover coffee table book- all the family will love flicking through these magazine style books that are meant to be handled, not put away in a box like an heirloom. The final selection of images that I present to you as digital files are edited down carefully so that everyimage is a work of art- you can print your favourites to either to hold in your hands or blow up for the wall. So if you think making a visual record like this might be a poignant reminder for all the blessings in your life, both now and in the future, then send me a mail and we can make a plan.

 

Wales in winter

In the poem Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas writes about his childhood memories of his aunt's Camarthenshire farm...

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns

About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,

In the sun that is young once only,

Time let me play and be

Golden in the mercy of his means,

And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves

Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,

And the sabbath rang slowly

In the pebbles of the holy streams.

(An extract from the poem 'Fern Hill' by Dylan Thomas, 1945)

Newborn baby & family photographer, London

Newborn Baby & family photographer, London

Newborn photography sessions with me are a mixture of documentary photography and traditional portraits of the baby with the family. Having had three babies of my own, I simply approach newborn sessions by taking the photographs I would have liked to have as a new parent if I could turn back the clock. We treasure the photos we have of this time, but they are all snaps rather than portraits. It wasn't until my first two kids were older (4 and 1) that I realised we needed to commission a photographer to make the images of our family photo I wanted a reality.

I know from my own experience that being a parent of a newborn is a busy time, so I work quickly and don't pose the baby in a way that takes a long time and gets everyone all stressed. I also allow enough time for the baby to be fed and changed whenever it needs it...its a fine balance of being timely and taking things in our stride!

My favourite thing about photographing new babies, is capturing the reaction of all the family, as everyone begins an amazing bonding process that literally lasts a lifetime. Each family member has their own relationship with this little bundle from the minute it joins the family...and to be there to capture these precious relationships as they start to unfold in the very beginning is a real privilege.


Red bonnets for winter

Like many children's photographers these days, I started off with an etsy shop, selling vintage styled kids clothes. I needed to take pictures for the online shop, sparking a renewed passion for photography I'd forgotten about since my school days. Pop over to Mrs Benn's shop to find my bonnets, which are displayed among an array of beautiful vintage clothes and toys. 

As seen in my portfolio on the Vogue Italia website.

childrens photographer London

Family and children's portrait photographer

Now that we are heading into the winter months, it's often a great opportunity to focus on having family portraits within the home. Photographing families in their home is a comfortable and practical way to do a photo session. The images taken in your own home will mean far more both now and in future years than any that could be posed during a formal studio shoot. In order to structure a session that is unique to each family, lots of collaboration and communication goes on before the day of the session. 

Family portrait photographer London
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Children and family photographer London
childrens photographer London
childrens photographer London
childrens photographer London
childrens photographer London
Family portrait photographer LondonFamily portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
childrens photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
family photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer LondonFamily portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer LondonFamily portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London
Family portrait photographer London

A family session in Dulwich…cousins

A family photography session in Dulwich, London

Here are some Q&A’s for those  families who are looking for a photographer who are wondering whether I am a good fit for them

1. What do you focus on as a photographer?

Recording the connection families have with each other is one of my main aims during a session. There won’t be any requests for forced smiles nor any awkward posing.

2. My home is a bit dark. Do you use lights and a flash?

My work is always based on location rather than in a studio. It means we can use all of the beautiful natural light that’s available without the need of studio lights. It also means that there’s often something in the photograph (in addition to the people) that’s special to you, and will grow in significance the more that time passes and life around you and your home changes. My camera has the ability to work in low light, and we won’t need to use a flash as long as there is some natural light coming in from a window.

3. Do you help prepare us for our session, as I feel a bit worried about one or two things, like the mess in our house at weekends!?

I feel as though all of my past clients are now my friends…I really try and capture all of the moments that I think they’ll love, both now and in years to come,  and I also feel very blessed that they have entrusted me into the heart of their family story in order to capture all the love, all the quiet moments as well as the chaos, laughter, mess and fun! Getting to know each family that I photograph is part and parcel of their session, so that we can work well together as a team,  and have lots of fun on the day of the session. If I know that you love to make pancakes every saturday and that your kids love to play twister, we’ll incorporate these things into your session….no two families are the same and so each session is entirely bespoke as well. I can advise you on the best time of day to plan a session, and where the best light in your home is, in order to achieve beautiful portraits of everyone. I’ll also send out a pdf guide to help you to prepare for your session.

4. How much does a session like this cost?

Investing in images is just that- an investment. Don’t just pick a photographer based on their prices- pick the one who’s work you like the most, even if you have to save a little for the images. I did this 10 years ago so that we could have pictures of the whole family, including me, at the beach in Norfolk, and I often think about what a great investment they were when I pass them on the walls in my house. My pricing is totally transparent with no hidden add ons or surprises at the end. I have a range of packages and products available which are suitable for a range of budgets, from short sessions with a few digital files with prints to longer sessions with all images on a memory stick and some enlarged prints. Contact me for a digital information pack for more details.

Sussex equine and family portrait photographer

Sussex family children and equestrian photography, equine and portrait photographer , Sussex

This West Sussex family photoshoot from the summer was great fun to do, and we were really blessed to have warm weather and beautiful golden late afternoon light. I always adore having the opportunity to photograph horses as well as families, so I was so happy to arrive at the family's equestrian yard  to be greeted by kids already on horseback and raring to go. The children were totally at ease riding their horses around the fields bareback with bare feet, with the older kids swinging their polo sticks expertly as they galloped past me. This was a large family group, and there was a lot to document in terms of storytelling (this works really well in albums) , and I also wanted to create some photographs that everyone would want to have printed out to display on their walls. Being late July, the hay had just been harvested, and we had lots of haystacks to climb on…I was amazed to see everyone, including Grandma, Grandpa and basset hound Parsley climb to the top of a huge haystack for an epic family photograph. I won't go into detail about the moment when I disappeared down a rather large ditch…..its lucky that the mud softened the fall is all I can say! At the end the session, the family had their sun downers bathed in golden sunlight, while the little ones happily played in the bell tent. The perfect end to an action packed family shoot set in the most beautiful surroundings of West Sussex countryside.

If you would like a family photography session located in Sussex, Surrey or Kent then do get in touch. If you don't live in these areas, and would like to have a photography session based in the countryside, then I am able to recommend some fabulous areas of natural beauty where we can hold your session.

If you are interested in having an equine portrait photography shoot,  then do get in touch. Photographing children and horses in an informal way that shows the connection between a child, their pony and the natural world outdoors is one of my favourite things to shoot. I also love to photograph adults with their horses, and can help with the styling before the session so that we create the vision that we plan together beforehand.

Family and child photographer

This family portrait session gives you a taste for how a session with me runs, the kinds of images you'll have to frame and store in albums, and also gives you a sense of my vision and style both in regards to how I shoot and how I process images. Get in touch if you'd like to talk about having a portrait session in your own home and garden. No two family portrait sessions are the same; they are a true and unique reflection of you as a family, which is why I love doing  them so much. You just don't get that honest sense of who you really are in studio photographs…your home is the perfect setting to make photographs that hold real memories. 

Newborn baby portrait photographer

Newborn baby portrait photography in Dulwich, London.

When I photograph families with their new addition, it is the relationships and connection that I aim to capture. To me, photography is special because it does more than just tell us how someone looks. It can remind us about how things feel; and take us back to the moments that are captured if we were there. The time of life when a newborn baby arrives is crazy busy…and filled with so many emotions and feelings. Having photographs taken in an unobtrusive and natural way will capture your life in a way that will hold meaning in years to come. I particularly love to photograph siblings as they welcome their new baby sister or brother with excitement and awe, and the beautiful connection between a mother and her newborn. And let us not forget the new baby themselves; returning loving gazes from their siblings and parents, and enjoying all the cuddles, rocking, carrying and jiggling. 

Encore;The New Artisans is published by T&H

It was really exciting to get some of my photographs published in this lovely Thames and Hudson book, The New Artisans. I took several portraits of artist Sally Nencini at work, in her Peckham studio. Sally upholsters furniture and also designs and makes knitted pieces for the home. www.sallynencini.com

Portrait photographer London

Portrait photographer London

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