Play mats by Totter and Tumble
Play mats by Totter and Tumble
This selection is from a vintage kids editorial shoot at the wonderful Mrs Benn shop in East Dulwich, London. I adore vintage clothes, and have collected kids vintage clothes for many years. If you’re interested in sustainable fashion, then you’ll love Mrs Benn, with its clothes rails heaving with beautiful vintage kids clothes. I also find it so comforting to be surrounded by 1970’s toys and furniture, as they transport me back to my childhood. There are some things from my 70’s childhood that are better left forgotten ( strict teachers and revolting school dinners anyone?) but I’ll always love the clothes and toys we had!
Kids fashion shoot for Fin & Zee’s new range for SS19
Back in April I was delighted to visit the beautiful North Yorkshire Dales to photograph Whin Yeats Farm owned by The Noblet family. The unpasteurised cheese that Clare and Tom Noblet produce is a variety of Wensleydale cheese, which is unique to their area. They called the cheese Felstone, named after the limestone side of the fell where the farm is placed, perched on high on top, with beautiful steep views of the dramatic Cumbrian landscape surrounding them. Clare showed us around the milking parlour whilst the cows were being milked for the second time that day, explaining that the quality of the milk taken at the 6pm is different from the morning milk. We need to be very quiet in the milking shed, as the cows are very sensitive to our presence. One cow comes right up to me and breathes out heavily, curious as to why I am there, with a glint of gentle cleverness behind her huge eyes. Both Clare and Tom, who have four young children, come from farming backgrounds and have always dreamed of running their own farm. Its a job that requires both stamina and determination; the past few years have been the wettest on record but luckily the soil drains well due to their elevated position and the limestone in the soil. Clare makes the Felstone every Tuesday following a traditional recipe, which was developed with the help of local cheesemongers Andy and Kathy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy. The Noblets are one of only two farms in Yorkshire still producing unpasturised cheese- historically there used to be six thousand. The raw milk cheese, unique to their farm, is essential to their survival, as unpasturised milk is sold at only 14p a litre….producing their Felstone cheese is essential to the farms survival. This is not mass production….unpasturised raw milk cheeses like Felstone are the product of good animal husbandry and welfare, twice daily milking and scrupulous hygene.
Kathy and Andy Swincoe (pictured above) run the award winning Courtyard Dairy shop and cafe near Settle, North Yorkshire. They help many local farmers like the Noblets develop their own cheese based on traditional recipes, bringing genuine British Northern farmhouse cheeses back on to our plates. Andy regularly visits the farms of the producers of the local cheeses he sells in his shop. Indeed busy dairy farmers like the Noblets greatly depend upon passionate cheesmonger Andy to tell their story and sell the cheese for them. Visiting Andy and Kathy’s shop, its clear to see how they have won awards- the shop sells over 30 of the best British farmhouse cheeses, whilst the cafe and museum educates visitors where the food and produce on their plate comes from. Andy and Kathy’s enthusiasm for bringing back traditional cheese making to the area has brought with it a resurgence of traditional farmhouse recipes, whilst securing the survival of dairy farmers in Yorkshire despite the low cost of milk.
It was really lovely to work again with Kiki again this season, with a fashion shoot showcasing their lovely new kimonos and dresses. As you can see we had lots of fun with real-life mother and daughter models who all looked simply beautiful in the kimonos which are available in both adult and children's sizes.
It was a pleasure to work with the designers at Anorak again, this time for their SS18 range of bedding, cushions, bags and towels. I love the new colour palette, which is quite a big change of direction from last years designs, this time using muted tones. The seaside theme makes me very happy about the thought of using one of their wave design towels at the beach in Whitstable this summer! I will also be sending family in New Zealand an orca cushion or two for their beach hut!
If you are interested in working with me to produce photographs in keeping with your brand's identity, I'd love to hear from you so get in touch.
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.
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.
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!
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.....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Grace Tales; family photography in London; It was my absolute pleasure to photograph jewellery designer Carolina Bucci, and her gorgeous boys Lucas and Julius, for The Grace Tales this summer.
I love having the opportunity to do editorial shoots and family photography at the same time. We came up with a range of images to use on The Grace Tales, some directed and others which were more documentary photography.
If you would like a similar family photography session, with predominantly black and white images, then do contact me for details as I’d love to hear from you.
Check out the website to read more about Carolina’s take on juggling motherhood and running a successful and creative business… http://thegracetales.com/the-tale-of-carolina-bucci-lucas-julius-pyner/Read More
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