I would describe myself first and foremost as a family photographer. While I photograph newborns every week, bringing a baby in to the world is all about family. Of course being a newborn photographer is a particular skill and one that I am proud to have, however in my opinion it is essential to have a photograph or two of that newborn with their family and that is another skill in itself.
Besides photographing newborns regularly, I also photograph family sessions, adult portraits and children’s portraits. I undertake a fair bit of commercial photography work for some regular clients including product work, fashion, corporate work including headshots and conceptual work. However I rarely, if ever put this work out there on my website simply as I feel it clutters everything up and I don’t tend to advertise this side.
But putting my other work aside, the fact remains that I love being a family photographer the most. This is because for me, photography is all about real people and relationships.
This image above is one I took of my daughter. We were playing around in the studio on Halloween (two days ago!) and trying to think of spooky images, just for fun. I came up with this concept and she loved it! So she sat with me while I photoshopped it, giving me her opinions and it has turned out to be one of my favourite images of her that I have ever taken! Funny, since I photoshopped it very quickly as she was impatiently sitting next to me asking if I had finished it. This image will absolutely make it on to the wall, although before I print it up big I might just tweek any sloppy editing bits out of the image, as I am sure it is not perfect by any means.
The reason why this is now one of my favourite images is because it is just so very her. Firstly, she is a very loud and extroverted child. So, having her mouth open and talking loudly is pretty much her natural state. Secondly she loves movement and dancing and to me this image alludes to this. It certainly has a feeling of fluidity that I love to see in children’s portraits because lets face it, most kids are rarely still. And thirdly, the hair and the outfit are just her. She likes her hair down wild and free and she loves wearing really simple leggings that are comfy. From an aesthetic point of view I love the toning and the lighting too (for this image I used a big window in the same way I would sometimes use my big softbox).
Photographing families allows me to sometimes be able to things that are a bit more kooky. I don’t get to do that as often as I would like. Perhaps I need to put more kooky work out there so people see it and want it to!
But really, and like I said earlier, it is all about relationships. Whether that relationship be between people with other people, or people with landscape or buildings or other objects, or a place or their pets or even other people who have since passed away. It is the people that interest me and continue to inspire me.
People and their lives have always fascinated me. For as long as I can remember I have been an image maker and a recorder and documenter of life in some way. Sometimes its just as much about the words as it is the images. At one time in my childhood probably around the age of 10, I thought I would become a writer or a reporter and I spent hours interviewing people and recording them. I’m sure that I still have these recordings somewhere, on tape (yes that is how old I am!). I discovered the joy of photography pretty early on and I also loved to draw and paint. So when I wasn’t writing down memories or recording them for other people, I was image making in some way or another. It has always been a passion of mine and I never tire of it.
If I am ever having a lull in terms of enthusiasm for working (because lets face it, this happens to all of us – I firmly believe that everyone goes through lulls in work no matter how enthusiastic a person you are) I find that if I reset my brain a bit in terms of my main motivators for my work and why I was drawn to it, I am able to have a new lease of enthusiasm.
Apart from the relationships between people, the other thing I love about family photography is that it is never just the same old same old. There are always new subjects, new dynamics, new locations. You can photograph two different families at the same location however the images will be completely different due to the different dynamic and personality of the family members. When I photograph families we might start out with some standard “poses” to get everyone warmed up and comfortable but it is the images from towards the end of the session that we all like the best because by this stage everyone is relaxed and being themselves and often the kids start suggesting things and this is when we see the family at their most authentic.
I have always favoured simple images and clean lines without too much clutter or overt symbolism going on. What I mean by symbolism is that I am not someone who is drawn to photographing a subject with a lot of objects or other elements in the image to tell a story. Often I like an image to be a bit more ambiguous or open to interpretation and subtle in its messages or stories. I am not saying my images are always like this, but these are the types of images that I am most drawn to when I see work from other photographers. I am not the sort of person who feels the drive to photograph a girl in a forest and then photoshop in a lion or a fairy or some other fantasy element. While I appreciate the work that goes in to these and admire the Photographers who do this, I am not interested in doing this type of work myself. I would rather use the environment as a compositional element and leave the interpretation up to the viewer in terms of what fantasy elements the little girl would imagine rather than photoshopping in a unicorn.
I am also drawn to the weird, the eccentric and slightly macabre.
This was another image that I took two days ago on Halloween with my two kids. I will say that a dolly was harmed during the making of this image! We tried as hard as could, but we couldn’t put the head back on so this dolly is going permanently in the prop cupboard! Lucky for me, they weren’t too worried about this and they didn’t think the photo was as freaky as I did!
I am also very much drawn to movement in photography. Photographing dancers is one of my other passions, perhaps as I spent many years dancing myself. But this is a whole other blog post.
Black and white images for me will always be a classic favourite. As any lover of photography will attest, sometimes you cannot go past the depth of light and shade, or the striking contrast, or the elegant simplicity of black and white imagery. Beautiful black and white images are a feast for the eyes and I certainly use black and white photography a lot in my newborn photography. Lucky for me, the majority of people who commission me to work for them also love black and white images and have been drawn to me also because of that.
If you are looking for a family photographer to capture some images of you and your family, I would love to hear from you. I currently work mainly in the Mornington Peninsula and melbourne areas both in studio and outdoor family photography on location.
There are many great locations for family photos. I would welcome the opportunity to have a chat with you about some images that would be perfect for you and your family.