Day in the life of a London baby and family photographer
Family portrait sessions tend to start at 10am, as children are often at their jolliest in the mornings, and the light is the most beautiful then too. This also makes my job really compatible with my own family life – I take my daughter to school, and still have time to answer a few emails at home before setting off.
I choose comfortable, stretchy clothing so I can get into the strange positions often called for! Down low to photograph babies crawling, and almost always at eye level with babies and children. I wear layers to cope with the combination of taking photographs both at families homes and outside in their garden or a park. I choose shoes that I don’t mind getting muddy – keeping up with scampering toddlers doesn’t often involve sticking to a path! I always take my shoes off when I arrive at a families home – even if a family doesn’t have a no-shoes policy, shoes can be very restrictive with getting into the best position to photograph little ones.
Despite generally avoiding car journeys where possible for environment reasons, I have to admit I usually drive to a family portrait session. I worry about my camera case being snatched on the tube – there are precious memories on those memory cards!
Before I arrive, I read through my notes again about the family’ priorities – whether they’re after mostly photographs of their baby or children, for example, or whether they’d like more of a mix of family shots as well as individual portraits. Each family is different and there are often subtly different priorities between what family is looking for from their portraits. Life’s busy for parents and it can be easy to run headlong into a portrait session without taking time to think about what they actually want from the photographs. That’s why I discuss the family portrait session a week or so beforehand, as it encourages parents to really think about this. That way, parents get the most out of their portrait session.
Photographs at home
When I arrive:
I make a point of saying hello to the children individually and making sure they know I’m interested in them. It’s amazing how much difference a big smile and eye contact makes with winning over babies and children. If children are shy, I’ll give them plenty of time to stay wrapped around a parents leg – there’s no rush! Asking shy children to help their parents show me round their home can be a good way of helping them relax around their being someone new in the house.
Finding the best light:
I’ll look around the family’s home to see where will work best in terms of the light – usually the rooms highest up are good options as they tend to be brighter, and whichever rooms catch the morning light. Children’s bedrooms are often great spots to photograph the littlies in as they feel most comfortable there, and can be excited to show their favourite toys. Sometimes parents worry that their home is too small or dark, but looking round together reassures them that there’s always locations that will work well.
Before babies and toddlers have become camera aware, I usually photograph the whole family together. With older children this isn’t such an issue, but I generally find that I get the most natural indoor group shots earlier on. I don’t tend to take many photographs where the whole family is looking at the camera, but grandparents do tend to like those ones the best so I’m more than happy to take them. I’ll also look to get photographs where the family are laughing and giggling – this is often the moment for parents to give their children a good tickle, or to work through some silly noises!
Following the child’s lead:
The rest of the session is led by the children – their favourite activities, whether they’re in a quieter or more boisterous mood. I gently keep things moving so that children don’t lose interest, aiming for them to feel they’re getting a lovely amount of attention rather than having to do anything special for a photograph.
Once I’ve got beautiful photographs of each child individually, as well as siblings together and parents getting involved too, I’ll suggest heading outdoors.
I love photographing families walking together, it makes for such emotive images seeing parents holding little hands. With babies who are sitting, it can be lots of fun to have them up on a parents shoulders too, and being thrown (safely!) into the air as an aeroplane. With toddlers, I love to capture their wobbly little steps and bandy legged walking. With older children, encouraging running races and peepo behind trees can be great ways of getting children to really be themselves – there’s nothing more lovely than capturing delighted giggles!
I pay careful attention to the children’s moods – once they start to tire of being photographed, we’ll call it a day. Parents want photographs of children at their best, not getting frazzled! I’m aware of not leaving parents with over-tired children, just with fun memories of a special morning.
Back-up and admin:
As soon as I’m back at the office, I upload the photographs to my computer as well as to an external hard drive and to the cloud. My entire computer also gets a complete back-up to the cloud every week – backing up family photographs is essential. My camera records photographs to two memory cards at a time, so there’s an immediate back-up that takes place as I’m shooting too.
After grabbing some lunch, I settle down to a few hours at the computer: updating the website, editing photographs, answering emails and following up with new client enquiries, processing frame and album orders, and packing up product orders. Seeing the finished products in stunning frames and albums is one of my favourite parts of the day – it’s wonderful thinking of families having these for years to come.
I might also have a client coming in for a viewing appointment, which is a real highlight for me as I get to see the delight parents feel as they see their photographs! It’s always a pleasure helping parents decide which photographs mean the most to them, and how to display them for their home.
Three days a week, I’m home in time for school pickup – it’s lovely to spend several hours with my daughter and enjoy some quality family time!
I love my job – it’s a total pleasure capturing special moments between families, and taking portraits that they’ll treasure for generations to come.