Documentary family portraits

While a documentary family photo session is all about the fun, unposed and natural photos, I often get asked to also take a few more traditional pictures of the family. I am more than happy to do so, but I also always try to catch the entire family in one picture during my documentary family photoshoots. This can sometimes be quite challenging, but I do believe that a more dynamic and natural photo of the whole family will tell your family story in a better way. 

A great family portrait preserves the story of your family life right now. Nothing directed or posed. Maybe it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of family portraits, but I’d like you to think beyond the “posed, all look into the camera and smile” family portrait. Paul Caponigro, an American photographer from Boston, once said: ”It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” And I could not agree more. 

Life in Lockdown | East Dulwich | personal project

When lockdown kicked in, I saw my bookings disappear and I really didn’t know what do to. I promised myself I would keep shooting - so I took lots AND LOTS of pictures of Ivy and her dad at home. Whilst this is something I don’t regret for one minute - in fact I just created a Fine Art Album which hopefully one day will be a beautiful memory for Ivy of that time the whole world was in lockdown - I did still miss photographing other people and families.

And so I decided to take my camera with me on my daily exercise allowance - and photograph local East Dulwich families for my personal “Life in Lockdown” project. It started off quite small, but soon became very popular within our local community and I ended up photographing over 100 families! The project was even featured in local magazines and newspapers.

I learned a lot during these shoots. First of all you only have a couple of minutes to figure out how you’d like to portray the family. You need to come up with some ideas FAST. We’ve also had some really sunny days in lockdown, which was lovely, but bright sunlight can make a photographer’s life quite tricky too. 

And then there’s the challenge of trying to create a bond with the child(ren) whilst social distancing at the same time. I am extremely pleased with the result though, I met so many wonderful families and this project really helped me getting through this difficult time. I also like to think it gave the local community something to take part in, to look forward to and enjoy, and perhaps even to look back on with a more positive memory than you might expect from these challenging times. Interested in seeing the whole project? Check out my Life in Lockdown gallery here!

Lockdown Life at casa Arrowsmith

It took me a while to write this one - I really needed some time to get used to this whole living in lockdown situation. It all happened so fast and the first couple of weeks I think I was both partly in denial and in shock. I imagine I’m not the only one who felt this way. 

I did my last family photoshoot in early March. Since then all my shoots have either been postponed or cancelled. With no other projects on my hands except entertaining our nearly 2 year old (which is a separate full-time project on its own) I started to think of ways to keep myself creatively challenged. Because, let’s be honest, a five minute arts and crafts activity (read: cleaning glue and glitter off your table) with Ivy is just… well… it’s just not the same. 

And so, like several other family photographers, I turned the camera on my own family and started to  document our life in lockdown. This is super challenging if you only have (in my case) a small London flat and you’re dealing with the same subjects ALL the time. But it’s fun and it makes you look at your environment in a totally different way. 

Once all of this is finally over I’m planning to make a book out of this photo diary - and one day we can show the pictures to Ivy and tell her all about the time the whole world was in lockdown…

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