WHY IS PHOTOGRAPHY IMPORTANT TO US?

March 23rd 2017

why is photography important

Sitting here at my desk this morning,  I am surrounded by images of the people I love;  some are a part of my every day life  (my family, my friends, my godchildren) and others  (such as my grandparents) are long gone.  

But all of them hold a place close to my heart. If our lives are a sum of our relationships, then these images represent the people that make me who I am today.

So it's little surprise to know that when people are asked what they'd rescue if their house was on fire, many say it would be their photographs.   

What does this tell us about the role of photography in our lives?  

Aside from the fact that I run my own photography business, and can express myself creatively through it, it has an importance for almost everyone I know.  

Today I'm going to dive into 3 reasons: 

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1. Photography conveys emotion without words

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Just over a year ago my wonderful, charismatic father lost the ability to speak, read or write.  

Just like that.

In the space of 20 minutes he suffered an acute stroke and his life was changed forever. He carries his loss with such grace and dignity, but at times it has been very hard.

I see him a few times a week, and a huge part of our communication is done through the visual vocabulary provided by photography and art.  Art has always been his driving passion,  and it's provided a vital key to his communication.   

Almost every time I see him, we'll go through an art book together, or look at photographs in an album, or on my telephone.   Pictures of the places I've been to, and the things I've done, or we'll simply look up something beautiful.  Last week we went on a visual journey through the buildings of my favourite mid century architect, Donald Wexler.  

We pour through these images together, without the need for conversation.  We laugh, and connect in a way that is sometimes otherwise difficult.  

So yes, photography can convey emotions without words.  For both my father and myself,  it's provided a key strategy to learning to live without the ability to speak.  

 

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2. Photography tells our story, and allows us to convey what's important to us 

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Like a piece of music, photography can transport us back to a particular moment in time, in an instant. 

It can make us feel connected to whoever is in the photograph, and can move us in a way that sometimes words cannot.

Now I'm not an artist or a writer, but from a young age photography has allowed me to express myself creatively in a way that I probably couldn't have done otherwise.  It requires me to slow down, to think, and to really look at everything around me.

It opens my eyes to new possibilities, and allows me to share the narrative of my life, and record the places and people that I love.

 

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3. Photography captures memories, and creates your family legacy for your children

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This is probably the most obvious one, but photography captures memories.

It allows us to dive into our past, capture our present, and create a legacy for our future.

I look back at the albums that my parents made for me when I was young; they are irreplaceable.

If you can start to really document the delicious moments of your children's lives as they grow up, imagine the treasures you will be giving them in years to come.  

At times, the photographs I take don't seem to be that important.  The boys will be making me laugh and I'll whip out my iPhone and take a snap.  Or maybe the light is irresistible.  Or maybe, for a split second - I spot something that I just can't not record.

Often, I find the importance of these moments is lost at the time, but - and here's the interesting part - as the years go by, their significance grows.  Together, these photographs start to have a narrative all of their own.  

Nothing can ever equal the value of the memories that you create.  They are, quite literally, priceless. 

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Alrighty,  my friends,  I hope that's inspired you to pick up your camera this Spring and start capturing some gorgeous pictures!  And the good news?  I've got a 100% FREE mini photography course made just for YOU,  to get you started.  

If you love taking pictures of your family,  but sometimes struggle with the technical side of photography, or just look at other people's pictures and think "How did they do that?!!" then this course is for you!  Maybe you're just super busy and just don't have enough time to figure out the fundamentals, and I've got you covered.  

It's delivered via e mail and is a step by step guide to some of the key techniques that I use every single day.  You can access the course at any time by clicking right here.  

 

It's jam packed with tips, it's fun and it's 100 % FREE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIVER STORIES: HAMPSHIRE FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY

March 7th 2017

As we inch our way towards Spring,  I thought it was time to post this gorgeous session here on the blog.  I took these photographs last year on the River Itchen in Hampshire, surrounded by lush greenery and the clearest water you can imagine.  It was the perfect backdrop for one of my favourite sessions, and perfectly sums up why I love photographing outdoors, using natural light.  The girls ran around exploring, we played pooh sticks, and dipped our feet in the water.  We did some running races on the rickety wooden bridges, and of course danced at every opportunity! 

If you're interested in learning some of the techniques I used in this session then my brand new 100% FREE mini photography course is for you!   It's called COMPOSE. CAPTURE. CREATE and is packed with in depth, step-by-step lessons such as how to create that lovely blurry background in your photographs, how to freeze motion, how to make your children relax in front of the lens, and much more!  The 6 lessons are delivered via e mail and will help you become more confident with your camera.   Check it out today - it's fun, it's jam packed with juicy tips, and ... yes, it's FREE :)  Click here to find out more. 

Carefree summer days, here we come!

Don't forget to check out my brand new 100% FREE mini photography course if you want to learn some of the techniques I used at this session.

Next week on the blog I'm writing about the three most common reasons why your pictures may be blurry, and how to fix it!

Have a great week friends!

Sophie X

LAVENDER FIELD MINI SESSIONS | 12th and 18th July, Hampshire

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Wasn't it beautiful?!  We went on some very long walks and I managed to squeeze in several photo sessions in the breathtaking late afternoon light. 

Things are definitely beginning to warm up and the freckles are starting to appear! Colours everywhere are slowly beginning to pop - we've been enjoying the incredible bluebell woods all around us, as well as the many fields of rape which dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Without doubt it's my favourite time of year; both the boys were born around now, and we got married in May as well!

If it's colour and warmth you're after then why not book one of my mini sessions in the lavender fields in July? They provide the most stunning backdrop and the children love it; the smells, the sound of the buzzing bees, the sea of purple - they are always amazed!

This year I'm holding them at the Lavender Fields in Hampshire, close to Alton, on Tuesday 12th July and Monday 18th July. It's only 45 miles from London and takes no more than an hour. These 35 minute long sessions are suitable for families with up to 2 children and cost £50 each.

Times available are:

  • Tuesday 12th July - 9.40am, 10.15am, 11.25am, 1pm, 1.35pm
  • Monday 18th July - 10am, 10.35am, 11.10am, 11.45am, 12.15pm

To book your session simply contact me with your preferred time. If it rains, the session will be rescheduled to the following day at a similar time (though not necessarily the exact same time) so please make sure that you're available then as well.

What is included in the session?
- 25 minute photography session with up to 2 children
- My 'Work with me' PDF guide packed with info on how to prepare and what to expect at our session
- My time editing and preparing the images to a high standard
- Online gallery with 15 edited images (accessible for 6 days)
- The location fee that the Lavender Fields charge

Afterwards you'll be able to buy prints, frames or digital images, and I'll be with you every step of the way to help you decide what will look beautiful. Please contact me directly for my comprehensive mini session price list.

So if you want to refresh your family photos, or know of anyone who might be interested, please share this with them. It's a wonderful, quick and cost efficient way to bring a little colour and love to your home!

If you want to know more of what's going on behind the scenes, you can keep up to date on my instagram account. 

With love,

Sophie X

5 TIPS TO TAKE NATURAL PHOTOGRAPHS OF YOUR CHILDREN | Dorset family photography

Hi!  I hope you had a wonderful Easter.  Ours was low-key and cosy - we've just about come to the end of the chocolate mountain and now for ready for life without chocolate.  For a day or two at least.

Today's post is about something that so many of you ask me about - namely, how to take natural, relaxed photos of our own children. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every photograph we took of our family was a beautiful and authentic image full of genuine emotion? Where everyone was completely natural and relaxed, super happy to be in front of the lens for as long as you needed, simply being themselves.

No pulling faces or awkward posing.   No eye rolling or fake smiles.  

Unfortunately, the default position for 99% of people is the latter - me included.  You’d think by now that I might have actually mastered the art of being photographed but I am laughably bad at it! Regardless, I still make sure that I’m photographed with my family every year,  and they remain some of my most treasured possessions.   

So,  unless I employ some clever ninja like tactics during a photo shoot, I would expect many of my sitters (young and old alike) to fall back to the default setting.

Here are 5 tips that you can use every day when photographing your family.  I'm excited to share some of my tricks and hope they'll give you some inspiration throughout the rest of the holidays - they don't require any special equipment or big fancy camera's, just a love of natural, authentic photography.

1.  Encourage them to engage or interact with each other

This is an easy one but obviously requires two or more children, or a parent and child.  See below for tips when shooting children on their own.  I love photographing siblings together because you can make them do the work, and with a few simple pointers they relax very quickly.  I always start out shooting the larger groups because I don’t want to single anyone out at the beginning of a session - that’s easier once everyone has warmed up and has got into the swing of things.

Idea’s for interaction can be as simple as getting one of them to tickle the other.  It's an oldie, I admit, but it works! Make sure you’ve got them in the right position with good lighting and a nice clean background, preferably sitting down next to each other. I will make it into a game and only tell one of them, and give them a secret signal when I’m absolutely ready, because the moment will only last a couple of seconds. 

Another way to make them engage with each other and forget they're being photographed is to tell one of them to think of a silly word and then whisper it to the person next to them - like Chinese whispers. This works as well for 2 siblings as it does for large groups. Once the word has been passed down through everyone,  I count to 3 and they all shout the word out loud.

Permission to shout the naughty words they're never normally allowed to say - how much fun is that?!

2. Step back and observe the quiet moments


Once children become absorbed in an activity and aren’t looking at the camera it’s incredibly easy to capture natural images of them being themselves.  The quiet images are as important as the laughing ones, and often make for some of my favourite portraits.  The easiest way to capture these quiet moments is to step back and observe.  Often during a shoot I’ll look behind me and see one of the other children absorbed in something and I’ll quickly take some photographs without them knowing.  Or we’ll be on our way to a new location, and moving from one place to another - they have no idea that I’m still quietly shooting.

 Other times I’ll set it up - I’ll tell the children to go and count how many flowers there are underneath the tree, or just to simply wait somewhere whilst I pretend I’ve got to do something important with my equipment. They instantly 'switch off’ and that’s the perfect moment for a shot.

3.  Movement


This one is probably the easiest;  it requires very little effort on your part, you’ve just got to spot the opportunity and make the most of your surroundings. It works brilliantly when the session is getting a bit stuck and the children are getting bored, and immediately injects a boost of energy.

The no-brainer is jumping on the bed or sofa.  Guaranteed fun!!  

For younger children you simply have to throw them in the air for instant radiance - even the very shyest of my sitters will laugh when we do this.  Good work out for the biceps too :)  

And the failsafe ”Run to that tree and back - I’ll time you” works every time. 

Why did I always fall for that when I was little?

4. Ask a question


When shooting children or adults I talk.  A lot.  And one of the quickest ways to get people to relax is to ask them a question. It momentarily makes them think about something else and nearly always makes them relax.  The questions can be about them, or things they like doing, or just silly things.

Do you like ketchup on your cornflakes?

What was the best thing you did yesterday?

What’s your favourite superpower?  

Who is cooler - Hans Solo* or Luke Skywalker?   (*Hans obvs)

Ask a few questions and you should be able to capture some thoughtful, natural expressions.  

5. Play, Play, Play


Probably the most obvious one of all, but often over looked.  It’s what children do best, after all! I like to give children free reign to come up with their own ideas - this gives them a sense of independence and make them feel part of the session.

Find a branch to swing on, do a headstand, turn the music up loud and dance. 

Have a cartwheel competition.  Leapfrog ten times. 

All lie on top of each other and squiiiish. 

The sillier the better.  

I hope this has inspired you to go and take some lovely family photos, and above all, have FUN.  Because if it’s not fun, then it’s not worth doing!

Do you want some fun-filled, sun-drenched, and above all genuine images of your family? If so you can get in touch to find out more about how I work. You can also find lots of info on my FAQ page. 

Now I'd love to hear from you in the comments below what you do to have fun and capture genuine emotion when photographing your family or clients. Have you got any great tips that work every time? And if you think that Luke is cooler than Hans then you can tell me that too - we will still be friends, I promise.

As always, thank you so much for dropping by, and for your support!

Sophie X

P.S As the light starts to get better, look out for a post next month about how I shoot/ create amazing soft light,  plus a bumper piece about iPhone photography.  They say that the best camera is the one that's with you, and I've done the hard work for you.  It'll come out just before the summer holidays and will take your iPhone photography to the next level, including my favourite 5 apps, some great accessories and lots of tips. I'm VERY excited about this one! 

 

WOODLAND ADVENTURE|Dorset family photography

Spring is round the corner.  With more little pops of colour emerging every day it really does feel like winter is finally coming to an end. Everything is slowly waking up,  and I may be imagining it but even the birds are singing louder! 

I'm loving this gorgeous weather and the longer days, and the fact that it's actually light in the morning when the alarm goes off :)  For the last couple of weekends we've been busy exploring secret hideaways and hidden valleys in these beautiful North Dorset downs.  I've got lots of bookings for my outdoor family sessions and can't wait to start shooting in some of these amazing locations with their wild meadows, meandering chalk streams, quiet woodlands and much more.     

Hooray to those of you who live in London and have booked your session down here :)  I can't wait to show you how beautiful Dorset is!  I've compiled a list of gorgeous places to stay in the area, from Georgian country houses to uber comfy pubs with great food,  and will  be writing a post on them soon, but do drop me a line if you'd like to hear my recommendations in the meantime. 

Today's post is from a sweet session I photographed last August in Somerset.  L&L have access to a magical place that can only be reached on foot - we had to hike through the woods until it suddenly opened out into a copse of huge ancient oak trees that sat on the side of a steep hill. The view dropped away dramatically in front of us and we could see for miles over the rolling Somerset landscape.  We picnicked amongst these magnificent trees, and then wandered home in time for tea. My kind of day! 

I've still got sessions available both in London and throughout the South West,  so if you're interested or just want to find out more about how I work you can either visit my INFO page or by all means do get in touch

In my next post I'm going to be discussing some really simple and fun tips on how to capture genuine emotion when photographing your children.  The tips are easy and have even been known to work on grown ups too ;) 

Have a wonderful Easter!  X

WHAT DOES 'THE REVENANT' AND MY PHOTOGRAPHY HAVE IN COMMON?

Spoiler Alert: it's not angry bears.

natural light photography

Have you seen the new feature film The Revenant yet? Set in the nineteenth century snowy Canadian wilderness,  it's a starkly beautiful film, if not gruelling and relentlessly intense. 

I was interested to discover that it was shot almost entirely using natural light. This is quite a feat for any film, more so for one where the crew and actors are at the mercy of an extreme and remote environment.  

Shooting children and family portraits with natural light is often more challenging than shooting with professional lighting, and there’s no denying that it has it’s drawbacks. By it’s nature it is constantly changing, and this inconsistency can be demanding.  Ironically, not using lights doesn’t make the work easier, it simply shifts the workload elsewhere.  While I may save time not having to carry and set up lighting, I always need to plan a session carefully and research where the sun will be, and indeed what the weather will be doing that day.  Changing weather or time of day will completely alter the look of an image, whether it be harsh mid day sun, cloud cover, or the golden hour at sunset. 

So with so much professional lighting out there, and the consistency it affords,  why do film makers and photographers like myself still choose to shoot with natural light?  

Simply put, nothing can replace the warmth and delicate subtleties of natural light.  Whether you are indoors or outdoors, there is a richness to it that simply can’t be replicated with artificial lighting.   

In the coming months here on the blog I’m really excited to be sharing some of my top tips on understanding different light, so that hopefully you’ll be inspired to take amazing photographs of your children, wherever you are.  With step by step instructions and a few simple pointers,  you'll see how easy it is to make the best of whatever light you have. 

Do you have any questions about lighting your photos that you'd like to ask me? Any queries on what makes a great shot, anything you've always wanted to know but weren't sure who to ask? I'd love to hear from you!  Just leave me a comment below or drop me an e mail me and I look forward to hearing from you. 

"Light makes photography.   Embrace it.   Admire it.   Love it.   But above all, know light.                      Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography".

George Eastman, born 1854, founder of the Kodak Company

MOTHER'S DAY PHOTO SESSIONS

One of the great things about being a photographer is that it's so easy for me to take photos of my family.   Batteries are charged, memory cards are empty, lenses are clean and my gear is always close to hand.  

Thunderbirds are go.

I have so many images of my boys, maybe too many! It's the most natural thing in the world  to pick up my camera and document our lives as and when I'm in the mood (which is often).   

The boys have to put up with me lugging my camera everywhere, poor things.  It's a huge investment of time and effort but it does mean that as a family we have a wonderful bank of memories from over the years. 

It also means that unless I book someone to take pictures of us, I am rarely in the photographs.  

I am the ghost that was never there (read: behind the lens).  

I always talk a lot to my clients about what it means to have a family legacy, and why it's so important not only to take photographs, to print photographs, but also to make sure that we are in the photographs ourselves.  What a gift that is to give to our children.  

Are you the photographer in your family?  

Well if so, then my Mother's Day Mini Sessions are for you.  

I'm holding my annual Mother's Day studio sessions at the very lovely Cranborne Garden Centre in Dorset on Saturday 5th March.  The session are 30 minutes long,  in a beautiful light filled studio in The Garden Room, and I'll capture some gorgeous photographs of you all together, along with the children together and individually.  Up to 3 children and one parent included.  

Date : Saturday 5th March, 10am - 2.30pm

Location: The Garden Room, Cranborne Garden Centre, Dorset BH21 5PP

Cost: £195 (includes 30 minute studio session and 6 black and white high res images)

Sessions can be booked directly right here

For more info or if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. 

 

 

 

 

GOODBYE JANUARY, HELLO FEBRUARY

Well hello February.  How's 2016 going so far for you?! Do you love or hate this time of year? Personally I like it very much.  January,  with all your moody fog and short days and crisp mornings. It's been peaceful here and I was quite sad to see you go.  You've given me the time to make some much needed changes to my business; every year I look forward to these few precious months of not picking up a camera to recharge and reboot. 

2015 was a big year, to say the least.  We have spent the better part of the last 6 months upping sticks and moving from London to Dorset. So here I am, living in a new part of the world, in a cosy light filled cottage with crackling log fires and a thatched roof.  We have an owl in the garden, and an apple tree.  And far too many rabbits. 

What better way to kick off the new year/ new home with a new website, which I hope reflects a fresher and more simple design. Let me know what you think.

I've also released my shoot schedule right up until November - you'll find the BOOK A SESSION section in the connect page.  There are two options on the page, either for a country session or a London session, and you can click on either one to find out more,  to check my availability and book in a session directly. 

I'm being much more organised with my time and have been ruthless about how many slots I release each month.  On average I'll only be coming up to London once a month, and once the sessions are gone, they're gone - unless you want to fly me somewhere on a jet, then I might rethink ;)

Either way, I'm hoping I'll be seeing you soon! There are SO many gorgeous locations around here in Dorset and I am so excited to start shooting full time as Spring starts to emerge. If you live in London and want to book a session down here, it's easy. We have lots of insanely lovely places to stay, come and check out what Dorset has to offer, make a weekend of it and I promise it will be fun. I am soon going to write a piece on some of the great things to do nearby, and places to stay, to lure all you London folk out of the big smoke!

Here's to a wonderful 2016.

Sophie x

SUMMER DAYS

Long hazy afternoons running barefoot through long grass, bubbling with the sound of laughter, sunlight on our backs.    It feels like a world away now,  but all too soon the days will start to get longer and we will be enjoying the warmth of the sun once again.  

Although we were shooting in Chelsea,  on that quiet, hot, still afternoon it felt a world away from the hustle and bustle.  We had our very own mini adventures, exploring and discovering all there was to find.  

These pictures were taken in the heart of  one of the busiest cities in the world, and yet if you stop for a minute,  you realise you don’t need to go far to find some peace and quiet.