Kate Griffin Photography // London Family Documentary Photographer » Celebrating family life in London and across the UK » page 40

Kate Griffin Photography // London Family Documentary Photographer » Celebrating family life in London and across the UK

Yep. The one that can be bothered to look at the camera.cocker spaniel portraits // © kate griffin photography // guildford portrait photographer

Rory just wants to get back to the long grass to roll around in god knows what and collect more seeds. Ella will sit still, look my way, and even pose on a bench.

cocker spaniel on bench // © kate griffin photography 2011 // guildford portrait photographer

What a good girl. Or, like me, she welcomes any opportunity to sit down when out on a walk.

Nothing would convince her to stick that tongue in though. It was 8.30pm this evening, so not that hot anymore. I think it was her little act of constant rebellion.

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Sometimes it’s good to wander outside of your comfort zone. Right now my comfort zone is about a foot from my industrial strength fan, and I won’t be wandering much further than that. But with my camera, I love to try photographing something different and, for me, a little out of the ordinary.

I’ve already developed a taste for street portrait photography – a slightly frightening but simple process which involves wearing a smile (plus a socially acceptable amount of clothing, obviously) and approaching strangers on the street and asking if  I can take their picture. It’s nerve-wracking, but for me, sort of a safe alternative to my everyday work. Because people and their portraits is what I know and love.

So I decided that a new personal project was in order. One that challenged me, proved difficult and pushed me.

This is where Henry comes in. Henry often proves difficult, but that’s just his artistic, tortured soul demeanour. Really he is a fabulous old friend who just happens to be an opera singer. I’ve been treated throughout his career to watch him onstage in some fantastic productions, but perhaps my favourite came a few years ago, at Opera Holland Park and a ticket to watch Madama Butterfly in a full scale, level 10 thunderstorm. Whilst the stage and seats are under cover, the theatre itself is open air. So when the music reached dramatic crescendo, the weather matched it note for note. Rain lashing at the roof, thunder crackling all around us and lightening lighting up the stage in the most climatic way. It was sensational. And for an opera novice, it made me love it so much more.

This year, Henry returned to perform in the 2011 season at Opera Holland Park, and again, I had the chance to watch the company in a brilliant performance of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. It was intricately staged, beautiful directed and wonderfully sung. What I really loved was the way the chorus was wound throughout the production, their movement and dance always adding depth and never distraction.

But I’m also nosey. And every time they left the stage, carrying candelabras, long stemmed roses or antique picture frames I wondered about the atmosphere backstage. A show like this takes military precision and a dedicated crew always on the ball, otherwise things can quickly fall apart. And because Henry is such a charmer, and the people of OHP so lovely themselves, the following week I got to return with my camera.

I got to see it all for myself, to experience that expectant atmosphere whilst documenting the ebb and flow, watching the cast and crew mingle and wait, prepare and perform.

I loved being the voyeur, standing behind the black curtains, looking out into the theatre as the company soaked up the applause and took their final bows. So thank you company – thank you for allowing me backstage, bearing the intrusion and letting me document the unseen. That’s a treat for any photographer.

Special thanks to Michael Volpe for agreeing, Dougie Turnbull for giving me the grand tour and my fabulous friend Henry Grant Kerswell, for being ever willing.

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  • August 3, 2011 - 11:06 am

    Boo - Kate, blown away by these shots! These are images for a Sunday supplement at the very least!! xxReplyCancel

  • August 3, 2011 - 7:01 pm

    rosie - Love these clever Kate. Such drama and emotion backstage and looks like fun too. Love all the intimate moments of preparation and the framing behind doors etc, a great documentary set that really makes you want to see the opera. LOVE the last shot.ReplyCancel

  • August 4, 2011 - 9:23 am

    Julie Skelton - Oh wow, the tension, the nervous activity, the preparation…I feel like I’ve had an insight into a world I’ve never experienced before. The candlelit photos are superb!ReplyCancel

What is it they say, those wise and wonderful people from whom all the old sayings come from? Is it that bad things come in threes? Well my bad things tend to come in larger multiples than that, but perhaps that’s because my balance is terrible and I often fall over, as previously discussed during this maternity session. Obviously my early childhood training as a ballerina didn’t do the work it should have.

It certainly didn’t help me after an all night essay writing session at university (two completed in one night, my record), when I was walking/stumbling down to the department to hand them in. It was lunchtime, the pavement was awash with puffer-jacket wearing undergrads, and I was pushing against the tide. I wouldn’t consider myself a gymnast, but on that particular day, had you seen me trip, stumble, regain balance, trip again, fall forward, effect a perfect forward roll, downhill, followed by three full rolls, then heaving myself up without barely breaking my stride, you would have thought me a contender for gold at London 2012. Probably more shot put than parallel bars. But I can wave a long bit of ribbon to East European dance music with the best of them.

Slightly concussed, I got to the department with just two minutes to spare. Surely deserving some sort of rapturous applause for my effort, I was disappointed to find that none was forthcoming. So I went for a lie down by the river, safe in the knowledge that a new appreciation for my suppleness and flexibility would be evident in anyone that saw me roll three times outside the student’s union.

So if bad things come in threes, then some of the very best things come along in twos. Like the current fashion for putting all sweets in a duo wrapper. Or Buy One Get One offers, on anything. But even more so, gorgeous twin baby boys. The very loveliest of all things two.

I was lucky enough to meet two very handsome, almost peas in a pod. Whilst one was fair, the other was dark. One was very sleepy, quite content, and calm, the other was…

…not quite ready for his close up, shall we say. But that’s the benefit of having the session in your home. Mum and Dad get to stay relaxed, and the babies follow suit. Well with a little rocking, and whispering, and a touch of milk. Very soon, both little boys were marvelling at the strange lady and her lens staring down at them.

And when that became all too much, the cutest little baby yawns and sleepy-lidded frowns made a short appearance.

Before long, we wrapped them up warm, and placed them close enough to settle each other with slow, soft baby snores.

I’m not really one for props or posing your newborn. I prefer to capture them with you, in a natural setting, in the comfort of your own home and surrounded by things that hold meaning to you. Which is why I just about leapt out of my skin when I saw this beautiful blanket, hand made by an adoring Grandmother. Not only were the colours delicious, but it told a story.

So with the boys coming round from their nap, still yawning, cutely screwing up their faces, and then dreaming a bit more and smiling, mum and dad told me about the family dog lovingly stitched into the blanket, the patchwork hills of home, and the sky-blue, sky-bound plane, that would take their grandparents home – but always be there to bring them back to visit.

Those cute little baby grow-bags have certainly done the trick. I love receiving updates on the boys, how much they’ve grown, how they’ve changed already and how the fairest has caught up with his dark-haired brother. Which makes it even more special that I was able to be there then, capture them new and sleeping heart-shaped in daddy’s arms.

Keep growing strong Alexander and Sebastian. I’ll see you both soon.

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  • August 1, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    Julie Skelton - Oh how wonderful! Such fleeting moments expertly captured – and that quilt is an absolute dream!ReplyCancel

  • August 1, 2011 - 5:23 pm

    Alexandra Andrews - Oooo I love a new born but two wowzers, they look just so adorable and that blanket is just amazing ! Babies change so fast I wish I’d got better pictures of mine as newborns.ReplyCancel

  • August 3, 2011 - 7:04 pm

    rosie - Ok so your black and whites are beautiful as always BUT I love the colour ones on the famous blanket – just too cute! My favourite is the one of the boys wrapped in daddy’s arms, flexing their little fingers. ADORABLE…ReplyCancel

  • August 5, 2011 - 8:42 am

    Mel - Oh, how wonderful, there is just something so incredibly beautiful about newborns, it’s like soaking in happiness and when there is two of them, well that means double the happiness.

    Love the photos.ReplyCancel