I never win anything. Well actually I won on a scratchcard once. But just the £1 I paid for the scratchcard. So no better off. In fact worse off. I’ll never get those 5 minutes back. I digress.
Every now and then I love to run a competition over on my facebook page, giving other people the chance to win some fantastic photography, designed and created just for them. We had two winners from the last competition – have a look at the first session here featuring possibly the most squeezably cute little girl ever. For the second session, the winners decided to upgrade to a full session because, quite frankly, they had two beautiful boys to capture and a mini session just wouldn’t have done them justice.
Decisions, decisions. What do you do with a 4 year old and a 9 month old, in Autumn, out on location? Well first of all, don’t fret because I love to shoot at this time of year. Often you’ll get overcast days which are great for pretty, diffused light. Plus a bit of cold means you can wrap up warm in coats, hats and scarves – all of that layering and texture look great in portraits. Then we need to decide where to hold the session. No problem – I know this great place which gives us lots of variety, beautiful woodland backdrops and a fun adventure for those who can follow the map.
Well Alice Holt it is then. Have you ever been there? It’s fantastic place for kids. It has a great play park and an adventure trail to follow. On a bright, sunny, chilly sort of October day it’s a perfect location for a family photography session.
Evita and Andrew really love having photographs of their boys taken. You walk into their house and immediately enjoy frame after frame of portraits taken of both Robson and Sebastian. She beams with pride showing them all – and so she should. Evita and Andrew have managed to cook up two of the most sweet natured, kind and cute little boys I’ve met. Full of fun, loads of character and very generous too. I have to know you a long time before I start handing out my stickers. It took me a long time to almost complete that Smash Hits Sticker Album and I still have a blank space where a sticker of Kylie & Jason should be. Robson, on the other hand, gave me two, no questions asked, just a kind gift that says all you need to know about what a sweetheard he is.
All of the portraits displayed at their home were taken in a studio – and they are treasured. But this time, they were looking for something different, less posed and more natural. Capturing Sebastian at 9 months old also gave them the opportunity to create something that would always remind them of their young family as they are now – portraits that told a story of two wonderful, fun, gorgeous boys and their very proud, very doting mum and dad.
What was fantastic about using Alice Holt was that whilst I was busy photographing the very smiley Sebastian, big brother Robson could enjoy the adventure playground. He was so patient, so willing to help out when asked. But every once in a while I’d hear him across the playground, “Kate, can we play now?”. And the answer was always yes!
Because that’s what a session with me should feel like for your kids – play. Play and fun and hide and seek. Yes I’ll grab their attention and get lovely portraits of them, but they will always feel able to get up, move about and enjoy themselves. Trust me – the images will come.
If you live close enough, I love to hold my pre-session consultations in person. It gives me the opportunity to introduce myself to the young stars of the shoot first and exchange stickers (see above). So when you meet a little man who might be a tiny bit shy at first, by the time the session rolls around he wants to be in the picture! So excuse me Sebastian whilst I sneak into your shot. Or perhaps I can strike a pose under the wooden arch. Such a natural!
Robson was feeling just a little bit under the weather that day, but you wouldn’t know it. And anyway, Evita and Andrew were expert at producing the tissue just at the right moment. On the swings, enjoying all the attention and the breeze in his hair, Sebastian was all smiles and giggles. Then I spot Robson, perfectly framed in the playhouse window. Because we got to Alice Holt early on a Sunday morning, we had the park almost entirely to ourselves. Such a treat because this beauty spot is so popular.
Once we’ve squeezed all the fun we can out of the play area, we are all off to follow the dragonfly trail. Robson, keeper of the map, sometimes holder of my hand, leads the way.
Along the trail you’ll find lots more climbing equipment. So even whilst I’m taking the time to capture Sebastian’s gorgeous little pout, Mum can be helping her little advernturer conquer another wall.
Once you’ve climbed that wall and used every inch of your height to find your way down the other side, what should you do next? Hide behind trees and jump out to scare mummy and daddy. Obviously. I must admit to slightly giving the game away when I stop to photograph him in his hiding place.
Then you reach that time of the morning, where the grey skies are making way for some early morning sun. Walking along the trail you find the perfect spot, with the light just breaking through the trees and a picnic table to gather round. And yes, we are in a wood, so at some point the youngest among us will reach for something to nibble on. Big stones are a no no, but that little twig…yum. I just love big brother giving the look of 4 year old wisdom which says, collect sticks little brother, but don’t eat them!
But there will always be that one stick that captures your heart and enters your mouth. I used to make mud pies and, I admit, taste a few of them. Look how well I turned out.
What is it that makes a perfect portrait? Is it everybody eyes front, smiling at the camera? Or can it be more than perfect, something that really reveals your family in it’s wonderful imperfection with a cheeky giggle from one and a munch on a twig from another?
Here’s big brother, all philosophical and deep in thought. Or perhaps he is just cooking up another scheme to make his parents jump.
We spend a lovely morning together and reach the end of the trail. Just enough time for mummy to snatch a little more cuddle time with her youngest. And just enough time for her youngest to find even more tasty treats on the woodland floor.
Can you see why I love Autumn sessions now? Beautiful light, gorgeous vibrant colours and a great family to share it all with. Plus a little treat for the photographer at the end – a packet of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Now that is perfection.
What’s your family story? I’d love to help you tell it.