some days you just need a picture that makes you smile every time you look at it!

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some days you just need a picture that makes you smile every time you look at it!  there are so many aspects of this image that I love, the fact that we were obviously trying for a straight studio portrait of everyone looking at the camera, looking relaxed and happy, and the fact that somehow or another, I don’t remember the exact details, but the giggles snuck in and that was the end of it! The two older kids on the ends are doing their best to hold it together and look at the camera but you can tell it is going to be a lost cause. In the centre, things have already  collapsed into fits of laughter, but through it all you get to see the real relationship that exists within this family. As I shoot Black and White, choice of clothes colour is not as important as the tones ( Light or dark ). While I don’t want everyone to be dressed identically, we need to avoid having 4 people in dark and just one person in light ( unless we are trying to make them stand out in the group). We also want to avoid big patterns, stripes and logos, so your Hawaiian shirt is probably a not go unless you all have one. At the end of the day, I want the clothes that you are wearing to melt into the background and not compete with those beautiful expressions and the interaction between the people in the photograph
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Dogs , ponies, goldfish and rabbits - even the odd cat every now and again!

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Dogs , ponies, goldfish and rabbits - even the odd cat every now and again!    Animals are such a big part of our lives that whenever possible, I like to include them in my family portraits. It doesn’t always work, dogs can go mental, and cats are notoriously picky about which photographs they will be in, but at the end of the day, I feel like we should at least give it a go. If it doesn’t work, we really haven’t lost anything, but if it does work, the images become even more important later on. The trick with horses is that you have to get their ears to prick up. Without that, they can look miserable, and goofy, so it is a fine line between getting the humans to look good at exactly the same time as the horse pricks its ears up. But when it works it is well worth the effort!  This image was taken in their own home, which had dogs and horses and sheep ( the little blond girl was not a fan of the sheep because they thought her hair looked like hay and wanted to eat it! ) When ever possible I like to photograph people in their own homes because that gives me the most relevant background to the images, and I feel like people are more relaxed and natural in their own surroundings  The images I took that day will become part of this family’s story. They will be looked at now, they will help form a vision of who they are in the minds of the girls, and they will be used in the future to show the following generations what these two looked like when they were just girls. In the mean time, this pictures will hang on the wall in the family home, and every time someone comes to visit, the girls will hear nice things said about them , and everyone can use a bit of that every now and again
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Powerful Dads!

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We have all done it! your baby is so small that you can pick her up with one hand!  But there is a problem with doing this. Its not a bad problem, but it will test you , and it is quite possibly the first time you have to admit to your kids that you are not the all powerful Dad that they think you are!   The problem is that you have to be fair, and what is good for little sister should be good for her older brother!You can see the problem and how quickly this can get out of hand! if you compare the pictures you can see the added strain on Dad’s arms and shoulders and how his smile is a little more forced! i remember when our girls were young, Laura used to come running down the hallway to greet me, flinging her arms around my neck and lifting her feet off the ground. She was genuinely surprised and concerned when I finally admitted that we could no longer do this as it was going to break either my neck or my back. It is a sobering moment when you have to admit that you are no longer strong enough, but it is also a rite of passage for the kids.  I remember during one of our frequent wrestling matches, picking my own Dad up of the ground for the first time and holding him up there until he admitted that he was defeated and that I should put him down ( I think the phrase he used was “ put me down you bloody idiot! “ ) It was a moment that we both enjoyed and marked a new phase in your relationship. The beauty of pictures like this is that they bring those special memories flooding back is bright clear technicolour ! My Dad has been gone over 20 years now, and the incident I am talking about was probably about 45 years ago, but these pictures brought it all back a clear detail. Imagine how the subjects of these pictures will feel when they look back on these pictures in 45 years time! Family portraits don’t have to be neat, organised events with everybody looking at the camera and smiling their best smiles. Sure, we end up getting those shots anyway, but it is often the little moments in between that tell the real story.  I really enjoy making family portraits in people’s homes. It means that the background to the images are relatable to the subjects, and as the years pass by and decors and houses change, the backgrounds become more and more important as a reminder of the life that you are living at that time.  Just recently we were looking at  some of our own family portraits and were amazed and captivated by how much the garden had changed over the years. We then started looking for pictures that showed different aspects of the garden. At the time we were taking the pictures, it was the kids and their expressions that we were concentrating on, but 28 years later, that background was important too!
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