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

I grew up with babies, toddlers and young kids running around the house and becoming part of our family. Just after my younger sister was born, Mum became a childminder and opened up our house to new faces and lots of little lives. From newborn to school age, I got to enjoy being a big sister to all of the children that came to be minded by Mum.

Having that experience and learning how to look after children in a family environment has been a huge help when photographing babies and toddlers today. I haven’t met a kid yet who couldn’t spot a faker straight away. If you don’t really like kids, if you can’t stand acting a little silly or talking about the relative merits of watching either Mr Tumble, Thomas or Peppa Pig then any little kid will know that you’re pretending. That is why I’ve always been upfront about hating Big Cook, Little Cook. But if your little one loves the Wonder Pets, we’ll be firm friends. It’s good to be honest.

Knowing how to engage children and keep their attention has been a great tool in capturing beautiful portraits of them. Because I enjoy playing like a little kid, despite being the right side of 30 (and 29 is the wrong side by the way), I’ll always find a way to connect with the person I’m photographing. The shy ones, the quiet ones, the “I-really-don’t-want-to-be-here-having-my-picture-taken-Mum” ones. Even the ones who love the camera, who have rehearsed a smile that is big and brash but not really them – those are the kids who I love to work with because I know, given time, I can wear them out playing, get them to trust me and create that perfect portrait that is so exactly them right now, that you’ll remember that stage in their life forever. Next month, they’ll be different. Hate Dora, love Lazy Town instead.

When families are looking for a photographer, they can find me in lots of ways. They can google, or maybe chat to a friend who sends them my way (thank you if you do!), or sometimes they come across a competition on facebook and decide to enter. I am so glad that this family did. They won a mini session with me, a complimentary 7×5 print and I got to spend time with their adorable baby girl.

She was given her name before she arrived. But on a trip to Italy, they found a new spelling that means she will always be a part of the story – the story where daddy took mummy on a wonderful holiday, planned it all perfectly and kept the ring hidden until the moment he proposed.

During their session I discovered that if your baby is blue-eyed and gorgeous, always smiling, unbearably cute and learning to (almost) sit up, despite being just 5 months old, the session will be full of fun.

baby blue eyes sitting up // guildford baby photographer © kate griffin photography

When she is finished in her little denim number it’s time for a quick change. She is squeezable. So yummy in fact, that she likes to chew on her own hand. What sensible baby doesn’t? If the mouth is open, it won’t be long before the little chubby hand follows. Or she’ll give the perfect “O” of surprise when mummy pops up behind the photographer, rattling something, and telling her number one just how gorgeous she is.baby "o" // guildford baby photographer © kate griffin photography

And she is. Totally gorgeous.

Don’t you find it useful when the fates collide and the colours in the room decide to blend perfectly with her butterfly dress and incredible blue eyes. When she’s had enough of sitting up or standing (with help, but her little legs are already so strong) it’s time for a rest. So you call her name, hope for the very best, and she gives it to you when she sees herself reflected back in the black camera lens. co-ordinating baby // guildford baby photographer © kate griffin photography

She gets the hang of it very quickly, this posing business. Here she is, working the camera when daddy picks her up for another change of outfit and scenery.baby gives a cheeky smile // guildford baby photographer © kate griffin photography

I love it when somebody special makes something beautiful that we can use during the session. What better way to show off baby then next to a pretty pink quilt, handmade by her godmother. Baby decides this is a perfect time to pull out some more of her gorgeous expressions. We get a re-working of the classic chewing fist pose, quickly followed by the thoughtful look with arms crossed position, rounded off perfectly with the look that makes me laugh so much I have to stop for a bit – her adorable full on giggle.baby on handmade quilt // guildford baby photographer © kate griffin photography

That quilt, so beautifully made, is also reversible (I want one!) so we head out into the garden and use the little flower side. She shows her delight by kicking those baby legs and gurgling away.baby posing // guildford baby photographer © kate griffin photography

We get towards the end of our mini-session and the light is so soft and pretty outside. We all stand round, mummy, daddy and me looking at a hint of a smile, the softest little head of fair hair and blue eyes that you could dive into. The perfect little baby girl.beautiful blue-eyed baby // guildford baby photographer © kate griffin photography

I delivered the prints today. It is a thinly veiled excuse to get back round for a cuddle if I’m honest. She greeted me with a gurgle. It amazes me how quickly they grow and develop – she’s reaching out now, loves to kick and play in her baby gym on the floor. But she is getting even stronger too – she loves to stand up, look you straight in the eye and smile. Her hair is growing longer, but it’s still so soft, and she can still chew on her hand with the best of them. And her adorable baby smell – there’s nothing like it really.

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When you book a photography session on location you get to enjoy beautiful places in locations that make stunning backdrops to your portraits. Alternatively you can just revisit the beach where as a student you feasted on a bargain bucket from KFC. Personally speaking, the proximity of a KFC to any beach would be more than enough to make me want to return there, but because Adam is a romantic sort of chap, having eaten finger-lickin chicken on West Wittering beach was not the only reason it was chosen for their maternity session.

Emily and Adam were students down by the coast before they were friends, before they were married and before they were expecting. Adam rustled up all his powers of romantic endeavour to make his marriage proposal to Emily on the beach – complete with table, chairs and dinner for two. Not bad eh? I think Emily has bagged a good un. Since they’ve managed to cook up their little bean (the little person hiding in Emily’s super sweet bump), they can’t wait to make their family complete this November.

I love to be given as a gift, so it was wonderful to hear my maternity&baby session had been given by an old friend of mine to new friends of his. Blair told me I would enjoy the session, that they were great people and always laughing. He was right. Not only were they brilliant fun and beautiful they were a joy to photograph. I never begrudge picking the sand out of my camera when I enjoy a session so much.

expecting // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photography

Standing, sitting or lying down, it was so obvious how very, very happy these two are. He can’t keep his hands off her – in a totally PG pre-watershed sort of way. And the way he looks at her – I’d often have to remind him to look at the camera for me. But then if your options are a slightly off-balance photographer who keeps stepping on sharp driftwood and sea debris, or your gorgeous, glowing pregnant wife, which would you choose?

smiling by the beach huts // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photography

It was one of those unique experiences where you feel very lucky to be sharing such a wonderful moment in the lives of other people. Here is daddy, holding his wife and then cuddling the bump. I think the little bean will be in safe hands. cuddle // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photography

During a break in the session, Adam was telling me about how he loved to see Emily on the beach, smiling, blissfully happy with the wind whipping her hair. No problemo. Here she is giving you all that and a cuddle.windswept // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photography

There were times, with the sun setting behind them, that I couldn’t help thinking about that little baby to come, how happy they would all be together, and how wonderful it was to be a small part of this new family in the making.mummy, daddy and the bean // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photographyyou can never smile too much // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photographysunset, a beautiful dress and a stroll // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photography

Now Emily is a slight little lady, even when 31 weeks pregnant so it is at this point that I burst the bubble of Adam being perfect. He found it difficult to pick Emily up and swing her round. Perhaps it is because his chosen sport is Hockey and not something else that requires a bit more strength in the upper body. He assures me that Hockey is actually a very manly, butch game. I believe him.

Sometimes you don’t have to have the bump in sight to capture a maternity picture that melts your heart a little. Here they both are, loved up, windswept and showing off that engagement ring that brought us all back down to West Wittering.bean as a bump & windswept off feet // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photographysunset hug // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photography

I’m not a props type of photographer. You’ll see from my portfolio and the other sessions on my blog that I love to capture honest, natural interactions between people – but sometimes it is lovely to include something in a shoot that has meaning to the people in the image. It might be the favourite toy of a child, or a special blanket they’ve had since birth. Or it could be the first book that daddy read to you, before you were even born, when you were just the little bean and mummy got to listen in too.

book at bedtime // surrey maternity photographer © kate griffin photography

Look at that mum to be. So beautiful, so ready to welcome baby into the world. Silly gorgeous really.

And when that baby arrives, this is what it will remember from being just a bump: caterpillars and butterflies, mummy laughing at daddy, a lot of giggling in fact, the odd rude joke, and many lovely things being whispered into mummy’s ear. I’m a firm believer that they get to know you before they’re born, so this little bean will arrive smiling, I’m sure.

Feeling inspired to capture your bump on the beach? Or up a hill, in the woods, along a river. Or how about at home? If you have something or someone special you want to capture in a photograph, let’s chat. I’d love to hear about you and your family.

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  • September 20, 2010 - 3:29 pm

    Danielle - Gorgeous couple – they look so in love! Fab location too!ReplyCancel

  • September 21, 2010 - 3:03 pm

    Pamela Casaudoumecq - The best maternity shoot I have ever seen. Beautiful and meaningful. And your commentary kept me chuckling throughout. Great work Kate!ReplyCancel

  • September 23, 2010 - 5:08 pm

    Kate - Thanks ladies. Hard to get it wrong with a gorgeous couple like this. I’m finding more and more that I love the combination maternity&baby sessions because you get the chance to know people, watch their family grow and tell their stories. A total treat for a closet storyteller like me!ReplyCancel

  • September 24, 2010 - 1:14 pm

    Fiona Humberstone - Utterly gorgeous. You’ve done it again. And I love the commentary!ReplyCancel

Is it only me that swims fully clothed? Apparently this practice is odd, according to my friend Laura. I think it cuts down on preparation time. Plus it is certainly easier on the eye.

I’ve done it once before on Brighton Beach, on a ridiculously hot day after a good meeting in my old job. Hadn’t planned on a dip in the ocean. Hadn’t packed a costume. What was I supposed to do? Swelter and dream of the sea? I don’t think so.

I waded in all Reggie Perrin style. My antics drew the odd perplexed stare. But I know, somewhere just under the surface of their slightly sweaty brows, they were jealous. They were trying to look chic and dry. I was happy to look slightly mad and cool. Anyway, I had trained for this moment having once dived into the deep end of the local swimming pool to collect a brick in my pyjamas. I tell you, if you haven’t swum fully clothed before, you are missing out.

A note of caution however. You will require more than one towel to dry off. I’ve found clothes to be very absorbant and capable of taking a lot of water with them. So if my splashing about in the sea was full of gay abandon, the slow dragging of my self out of the water, up across the perilous pebble beach and into my car was less the little mermaid, more creature from the deep.

But enough of me.

What on earth do you do when you live next to an indoor swimming pool? Don your “Hello Kitty” armbands and get splashing of course.

swimming in the pool // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

Off season, it is cheaper to hire a four-legged lifeguard. She may wander over to lick you but at least she doesn’t spin her whistle round and round her finger. All the time. Annoyingly.the lifeguard lick // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

But not everyone appreciates a quick kiss from Ella.the unhappy swimmer // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

So Laura swims over to put the smile back on our little splasher. I’ve just noticed – exactly the same nose creases when widely grinning. That’s the old DNA for you.smiling and swimming with mummy // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

Those flags were made for grabbing. And that’s just what she’ll do. Very nearly.little sophie reaching up // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

Swim time over – towel down done – time to play on the side. Erm. No, I don’t think so. No ball games allowed according to Lifeguard Ella. Unless it’s her ball game.no ball games allowed // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

Not to worry. Sophie will just wander up to me and give me the eye – like any right-thinking youth-in-a-hoodie would.youth in a hoodie // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

Swimming, splashing, trying to grab flags, trying to avoid Ella, telling Ella “No! Stay Ella. Down Ella!” will really take it out of you. Best get warm, get wrapped up and get ready for tea.the big yawn // surrey child photographer © kate griffin photography

I should add that Sophie found nothing strange at all about me swimming fully clothed. But then she is only nearly 2 and doesn’t know any better.

The nights are drawing in, the extra layers are going on and I LOVE IT! As you can tell by my choice of swimming attire, being fully dressed is how I choose to present myself in public. So now I can start to think of scarves, gloves and boots I get a lot happier about the day to day weather. I’ve had a preview of Sophie’s Autumn 2010 wardrobe and it is looking fabulous. Can’t wait for woodland walks and adventuring.

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  • September 17, 2010 - 5:15 pm

    Shannon Sewell - love all your stories & anecdotes to bring your beautiful images to life… so lovely. (& swimming fully clothed sounds amazing!!)