Tag Archives: family

Get Your Family Loving Photography

Holding up a camera between you and your family to take a picture is to place a barrier between you and them. You’re pushing them away a little. But photography can be a shared, unifying activity – if you work at it.

‘Doing photography’ is a good thing. It forces you to look, and teaches you to see. Going about the daily round with eyes open allows the opportunity to appreciate the marvel and beauty of the ordinary. The shape of a leaf on the tree by the bus stop, the flowers opening on the hawthorn in the hedgerow, the clouds billowing over the city-centre skyscrapers, the texture of an old brick wall, the life and times engrained in the face of the elderly person resting on a bench, the body language of the courting couple, the radiant wonder in the curious eyes of the baby. Seeing and appreciating some of these small things can be a step towards finding some peace of mind and contentment.

For a family member to love photography they really need to be doing it themselves, as well as tolerating you taking their picture. I was delighted when my son chose to do Photography GCSE and bought him a little Nikon. He never used it. I assume he took pictures with his phone, I don’t know because in two years I didn’t see a single one of his photographs. My daughter developed her own interest in photography after she’d left home, so nothing to do with me, but we’re going to the Andreas Gursky photography exhibition in London’s Heywood Gallery together.

We can help our family find a love of photography, firstly by not turning them against it, and secondly by encouraging them and sharing our own knowledge and interest.


Don’t…

…be boring

Some people grow up associating photography with boredom. That’s because they’ve spent so much time waiting for dad to take a picture of the ‘view’. I saw a child being told off by his mum on the train the other day, he wanted to look out of the window at the other trains at Clapham Junction, she wanted him to smile for the camera. He’s learning to dislike the taking of photographs. On the other hand, sharing your own delight at a nice picture of your child will encourage a positive association. If you can get the picture quickly and without fuss, so much the better. There was a lovely picture to be taken of the boy looking out of the window at the trains, but it was missed. Do photography around what the child wants to do, do not drag them to a National Trust garden and then get cross when all they want to do is go on the swings.

With a young family in tow, there’s little point in having a sophisticated camera. Better to have something very portable that can be kept out and ever-ready to snap a picture. The camera on a phone fits that bill quite well, but it will let you far more often than a simple, dedicated camera on a strap around your neck.


Don’t…

 …get in their Face

Respect your family’s personal space and privacy. Don’t photograph a teenager just after they’ve got up. Even if it is in the middle of the afternoon and really funny. Remember that your kid’s social media is probably very important to them, and more complicated than we can ever image. Trust is easily lost, so don’t share pictures of your children without their knowledge. (As I’m doing for this post) Active consent to sharing is even better. In the tangled web that is modern social networking you can never be sure in whose feed the pictures might pop up. Damaging the trust between parent and child is bad at any age, but especially through the tricky teenage. But if they trust you not to embarrass them, you’ll get more acquiescence and even cooperation. Then you’ll get to take more pictures of them. Perhaps, even just after they’ve got up.


Do…

…keep your powder dry

So you want a day doing photography, and your family is the subject. So you want to keep them sweet. So this is not the day to tackle them on tidiness, homework or cleanliness. This is the day to take them somewhere they want to go to. If that’s not going to facilitate your photography, then try a compromise. They will let you take some pictures of them at a location of your choosing, and you will wait in the car while they go round the shops.


Do…

 …listen

When you’re taking pictures of your family, get them to suggest locations and poses. ‘Try to make it fun’ – is a deadening phrase, I don’t think you can make things ‘fun’. But you can have fun doing things. Smaller kids might enjoy running around looking for something for you to photograph and looking at the screen on the camera as you take the picture, or through the viewfinder. You could even let them hold the camera and take the picture. This is when they might start to develop their own interest in photography.


Do…

…get it gift wrapped

When they’re ready, or perhaps just before, give them a camera of their own for a birthday or Christmas present. Do a little research into what’s available, even secondhand if your have a trusted camera shop locally. Think what they’ll like and what they’ll use – it should look good and be no bigger than their phone. It’s for them not for you. Keep repeating that.

The 10 Best Cameras for Kids are listing in this Digital Camera World article.


Kids are Great Photographers

They’ll surprise you. They have a fresh perspective, their view of the world is unencumbered by experiences. But whatever they take, love it. And remember they’re not interested in how you’d have taken it. Ask them to share their pictures with you so you can share them on your social media. Get some of the pictures printed, stick them on the fridge or frame one for the wall.

A Gift for Life

Photography is a great form of self expression that’s available to everyone. It forces us to look at what’s around us and teaches us to see it. Only then can we really appreciate it.

Share Your Photographs – or They Might as Well Not Exist

DSC_5902We just relived our summer holiday. It was a nice holiday so that’s a good thing. We watched a display of photographs from the trip on our TV, they looked sharp, bright and colourful, it’s was a good way to share. I was reminded of childhood slideshows when Dad was cajoled into setting up the screen, the projector and then loading the slides. Usually it was Christmas or when Gran and Granddad came for a birthday tea. We loved it.

RGranny and Granddad at Christmasubbing shoulders is really social

Photographs of family and friends have to be shared, by which I mean looked at together, not just posted to some online ‘social network’. Huddled round the picture you can remember together, remind one another of the people, the time, the place, what happened next, what happened since. Looking at art is a solitary affair because art speaks to the soul and other people are a distraction. But snaps of family and friends speak to our emotions, sharing the looking at them can be as much of an event as the taking of them.
I post pictures in social media, sometimes people comment, which draws another comment and a conversation develops. But it’s a lop-sided, time-shifted conversation. Mostly all you get is the painfully banal ‘nice shot’ or achingly awful ‘awesome’. Neither do I like ceding part of my copyright to the platform’s owner, or that the viewer has to sign-up and log-in.

Shelf-bending dust trapsfamily photography father and son

Let’s give a nod to the traditional photo album. Peeping into an album bulging with photographs is almost irresistible, but fiddling with self-adhesive photo corners is enough to turn anyone into a digital die-hard. As soon as you turn a page of the album the picture would likely pop out of the mounts. Far fewer photographs get printed now because people are much more selective and often they want to do more with the print than leave it in a drawer. There is something about the feel of the paper in your hand, its sheen and smell.
I watched a group of tourists recently photograph themselves with one of the new generation of instant print cameras, either a Polaroid or a Fuji. They made several prints of the same picture so they could all have a copy. That’s what photography should be for – sharing!

Scrapbook – or journal?

I stumbled on this blog that shows a fantastic way to use photographs for a gift: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2014/08/gift-idea-sister-photo-book.html

Making a scrapbook-come-album will take quite a lot of time and trouble, but wouldn’t you be touched if someone went to all that effort for you? (Well unless it’s a stalker)family photography boys playing rugby
Photo books are great, I’ve made several for clients and for gifts; they always go down well. Last Christmas I made one from scans of my Dad’s slides for him and my sisters. It was a few months after my mum had died so of course, I included all the pictures of her I could find. But as mum always said ‘your Dad only ever takes views’. She was nearly right, but there were enough pictures from holidays, days out and walks in the countryside to remind us of 40, even 50 years ago when our Mum and Dad were younger than I am now.

Better on the box

The photo book is special, and a great alternative to the traditional album but it demands a bit of time and effort to make it. There’s a real chance that photographs will be left to languish unseen on hard-drives or worse still on the memory card. Since the TV is at the centre of most homes and displays pictures easily and beautifully I think it’s a great way to show off and share you pictures.
Nothing on TV worth watching? No problem, press a few buttons on the remote and you can be back on holiday.family photography on the beach at Brighton

“Every picture tells a story, make sure it’s the right one!”
Trevor Aston Photography and Video is based in Teddington, Richmond upon Thames in southwest London close Kingston, Twickenham and Surrey.

Your Child is Leaving Home – Last of the Family Portraits?

Can there be a happier day in any man’s life than the one when his daughter’s born? Well, perhaps the one when she left home for University!

It was a sunny, Sussex, Sunday afternoon the day we took our eldest to begin her degree. Luggage-loaded cars jostling in the car park, everywhere families helping move bags of clothes, boxes of food, TV’s, loudspeakers and guitars as their 18 year-olds, buoyed with excitement and promise find their places in their Uni hall. A happy, happy day – the result of, and reward for hard work.

A few weeks before I’d set up my camera on a tripod to shoot a portrait of our family. It was someone’s birthday and we’d been to a restaurant for dinner. We got home at about 11pm a little the worse for wear. I wanted to get a picture after the style of a Vermeer painting, luckily I’d set up before we went out!

Five years on, it’s a lovely memory of a phase in our family life that was about to end – when we were still the parents of two children, unaware that we were about to become the parents of one child and a fantastic, independent, young adult. Best of all, who seemed to have decided she quite, liked us.

Trevor's family portrait photography Richmond Surrey London

 

Message or call me on 020 8977 2529 and let’s capture an image like of your family like these!

Don’t Forget to Photograph Family and Friends this Christmas, it’s the Best Time to Catch Them!

A present from me to all my friends and family over the holiday period is to always have my camera to hand.

David with skateboard at xmas

When they get what they want, they’re happy!

I’m going to make more effort to photograph family and friends this Christmas.  Whether or not they want me too!

Looking back at Christmases past there are plenty of photographs showing our children when they were small.  Toddlers only have to be tearing wrapping from presents to look sweet. Still more cute when they’re wearing the jumper knit by Granny. Unsurprisingly there are fewer pictures in our family collection of the children as teenagers.  “Dad! Stop taking pictures!”  It’s not just the awkwardness of adolescents that stopped me snapping pics of Christmas celebrations, it’s a bit of laziness.  Well lethargy at least. Often it’s such a relief to get to the 25th December with work finished and presents bought, wrapped, hidden and delivered (to Santa obviously) that it’s easy to forget about the camera.

Emma opening a present fom Gran at Christmas

Is the dress made out of Christmas wrapping?

It seems to me that concealed inside the Christmas routine are some great photo opportunities. Especially for anyone who likes photographing people. The good humour that pervades most souls makes them a little more patient with the persistent photographer.  Playing with a new toy, or exploring a new gadget is very distracting anyway – so there’s a good chance to capture pictures of people while they concentrate on the operating system or lose themselves in their new book.  There are better pictures to be taken if you can encourage people to sit by a window in natural light.  Generally, don’t bother with the camera’s built-in flash.  Sometimes by chance the light from a standard or table lamp will light a face nicely, if the camera’s ready you needn’t miss it.

If you’re getting together with family or friends it’s a real shame not to get a picture of everyone, especially if you don’t often see each other. Open the door to visitors with a camera in your hands. There’s a lovely picture of smiles, kisses and handshakes as guests arrive. It also establishes from the start that you intend to take pictures, and of course gives the visitors permission to do the same. When you’re the visitor you have to make a judgment about the appropriateness of taking the camera.  Usually I find people are pleased when they see my Nikon round my neck.  Perhaps because they know they’re looking good and the house is tidy!

Granny and Granddad at Christmas

Memories to treasure

The secret is knowing when to stop taking pictures, I don’t like photographs of people eating. In between courses, while one person is holding everyone’s attention with a good story, you can quietly turn the lens towards the listeners. But then it’s time to put the camera down.  Except for getting everyone to pose for a group picture, that’s always fun. Prop the camera on some books and use the self-timer. In years to come the pictures will develop all the more poignance.

Christmas walk

Grandma and mum, daughter and mum, granddaughter and daughter

Along with millions of others we go for a walk after lunch on Christmas day.  New bikes and scooters usually abound, but best not to take pictures of children falling off. Have the camera at the ready for the unexpected encounter with a neighbour in their Christmas jumper.  No one will mind you taking pictures. They can’t, it’s Christmas!

Make-Up for Your Portrait Shoot

It’s surprising how often people don’t make any special effort with their appearance before a photo shoot.

But most of those people are men. Most women realise that make-up for your portrait shoot is worth the trouble….

profile portrait photograph

even when you’re beautiful, it’s worth paying a little extra attention to your make-up

Writer and broadcaster Vanessa Feltz once asked me what I thought about the colour of her eye shadow. The make-up artist had just stepped away. I didn’t think anything, I had no opinions on any aspect of eye shadow or make-up in general but because I was directing this BBC film shoot I had to express opinions on this and anything else I was asked. “Well I think you look great Vanessa, but I can see why you’re questioning it.” I was playing for time, then the make-up artist returned and Vanessa asked what other colours she had. I helped choose by not saying much.
Having photographed hundreds of people I do now have opinions on make up, simply because my job as a photographer is much harder if the make up is wrong. I know how my lighting works with the flesh tones and face shapes as they’re hidden or exaggerated by make up. I’ve garnered my knowledge by being flattering.  It’s helps distract people so they forget about the camera.  I say how good they look and ask if they’ve used much make up, because I really can’t tell! So here are some of the general thoughts and  some specific bits of advice.

profile portrait photography

a portrait photography session is special occasion, why wouldn’t you make a special effort?

  1. Do make a special effort with your make-up for your photo shoot: it’s a special occasion.
  2. If you can get professional help; do. Otherwise do it yourself because you know what works on you.
  3. Look like you, don’t try anything knew but be the best you possible.
  4. Be restrained.
  5. Choose a foundation as close to your skin colour as you can find.
  6. Don’t use mineral-based cosmetics because the camera sees them as shiny.
  7. Line both top and bottom eyelids.
  8. Use mascara.
  9. Avoid shiny eye shadow.
  10. Putting lip stain under the lip-gloss will be more stable and is less likely to need touching up
  11. Avoid very glossy lips; less can be more in a photograph
  12. Use a hair spray with glue-like properties.
  13. Take a brush or comb to the shoot.
good profile portrait photographs

let your natural loveliness shine through by using make-up, but sparingly!

It’s hard to look your best in photographs if you’re not feeling good about yourself so it’s worth doing your best to look your best. Of course there’s more to feeling good than slapping on a bit of lippie, but it’s a good start!

Getting Better Group Portraits

Act like a new teacher demanding attention from an unruly class – it’ll help getting better group portraits.

group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-02There are many occasions when both amateur and professional photographers find themselves trying get a group portrait – caralling a bunch of people to pose for a photograph. It can be a lot of fun, get a crowd laughing and you can do anything with them. Or it can be like herding cats….

The ability to slide shadow-like into the background can help get great candid photographs. But like a conductor imposing their will and their interpretation of the music on an orchestra, photographing a group of people is one of those times when any desire to blend in has to be put aside. Instead, you should be like the new teacher at the start of term demanding the attention of an unruly class, or act as a the sergeant major commanding compliance from a platoon of new recruits or perform as an actor on the stage as the curtain goes up after the interval. Of a bad play!

Crowd photography is first and foremost crowd control, sometimes getting a good photograph of a group depends on the strength of the rapport you create with the people you’re photographing.
group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-9650.jpgTo keep the group on your side it’s vital to be efficient and as quick as possible, so know the precise location you want to use and have the lights set up before they arrive. If you have the choice, stage the shoot outside, a bit of fresh air can waken them up and put some colour in their cheeks. Ask the venue staff where photographers usually take group-shots, it’s likely to be the best place in the grounds. Otherwise think about posing the group within a natural frame like a doorway. Position them with the sun to the side to avoid squints or silhouettes.

getting-better-group-portraits-conferenceAlways use a flash to fill in the shadows on a sunny day, or punch up the colour on a dull day. Soften the flash through a photographic umbrella if it’s a small group, this will help avoid the flat, ‘flash’ look. If the weather drives you indoors use flash to give you the flexibility to stop down the lens for depth-of-field, or look for a light-coloured ceiling or wall to bounce the light from. Maybe you’re a lucky person and you’ll find a large indoor space with discreet decoration to stage the picture.

 group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-257.jpgOr perhaps you’ll be confined in a room with too much furniture, violently patterned wallpaper and a low ceiling. Well, you’ve still got to get the picture so there’s no choice but to get on with it and use what you got, and always remember that group shots are about the faces, not the art direction.

Indoors or outdoors, there is one great secret to composing a group of people; arrange them in a way that you looks nice. Simple. You’re the photographer – trust your eye, it’s as good as anyone else’s. Be assertive – arrange them how you want them. Symmetry can help, so can the rule of thirds. Look out for light fittings, red fire alarms, green exit instructions, signs pointing to the toilets. But the most important thing in arranging a group is making sure you can see everyone’s face.

group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames--2.jpgLook out for the shy ones trying to hide at the back. Moving an individual whose name you don’t know is a problem, so if eye contact doesn’t work then forget good manners and point. Directing with a light touch gets a better response than the heavy hand; boss people around with a smile and joke! Sometimes there’s someone you can safely pick on, “I knew you were going to be trouble” “There’s one in every group”. But be careful, don’t comment on appearance or body shape, a crowd can turn very quickly! Of course people want to help and co-operate, if they are not playing along ask them to do it as a favour for the hosts or their friends, even for the boss! And point out that they won’t get their dinner until the photography’s finished!group corporate portrait photography Kingston upon Thames-8465.jpg

 

 

A Perfect Family Portrait

You Don’t Need A Perfect Family For A Perfect Family Portrait

Any idea how many pictures you have on your phone or on your computer? How often do you look at them? Most of us have hundreds of photographs of our family that chart growth on development, but how many can qualify as a perfect family portrait?

It’s great to snap away while your kids are small; once mine got bigger they stopped being quite so co-operative. Now I tell myself that one day I’ll sort through the folders and folders of photos lurking in every corner and crevice of my computer’s hard-drives. If not during the long winter nights then I’ll do it when I retire. Of course going through old pictures of your family is a sheer delight, a luxuriant bathe in nostalgia. “Oh look at this picture.” I’ll say to my daughter. “That’s a picture of you when you were nice.” And she’ll reply; “You should remember who’ll be choosing your nursing home in a few years!” If we take enough, we’re bound to get some good pictures. Surely?
Just occasionally it’s worth investing a little more time to get a really special portrait of your family. It can be a lovely present for grandparents, or a picture of the kids with the grandparents for mum on Mother’s Day or dad on Father’s day can make great presents for your partner. They’ll all love it, they have to!

So how to get that special picture? It’s got to be more than just clicking away for longer. Firstly, make everyone aware that it’s important to you and get their co-operation. Bribery, blackmail and coercion are the most useful tools. Plan it for some time ahead so no one has to change a plan they’ve made to go to the skate-park or out with a boyfriend. Remind everyone of how much the picture will be appreciated by mum/dad/grandparents. Think carefully about where and when to stage the portrait. Do it in the daytime to take advantage of natural light. 

Beware that direct sunlight will look horrible with strong contrast and shadows. Positioning people in or near a north or east facing window will give a lovely soft light that still shows the shapes and textures. Try to include things like photographs of late relatives, souvenirs from holidays, odd bits of sports or hobby equipment or anything that represents your lives. These are the touches that will make the picture much more meaningful and poignant as the years pass.

If you’re to be in the picture yourself, you’ll need a camera with a shutter time delay or a remote control. A tripod is useful but you can balance the camera on a chair, table or even a stepladder. You could set up the shot and then get your daughter’s boyfriend to press the button; it’s a good excuse to leave him out of the picture! Compose the picture with care so that everyone can be seen and be in focus. The more natural the shot looks the better, and you can overcome some of the awkwardness by getting everyone to play the family’s favourite board game. Keep everyone in position for as long as possible; as they get bored they’ll stop posing for the camera, then as conversations start and niggles begin to reveal themselves you’ll get photographs that look much more real. The portrait will show everyone interacting with each other and being a family. Of course small children won’t keep still for very long, so best to just let them move around, they’ll add some spontaneity and help distract everyone from the camera. The important thing is to keep shooting so you’ve got lots of shots to choose from, and save the bad shots for blackmail next time!

family portrait Richmond photographer