Childhood passes so quickly and families grow so fast – from those first moments of wonder (and excited terror) at the first newborn baby to packing off the fourth child to University, the months and years fly by in what can seem to be the blink of the eye.
Taking time to create a record of some of the moments along the way is a wonderful gift to the whole family – from proud grandparents with pictures on the mantelpiece, to the children looking back at photographs with their own families in the future – it’s a gift for now and for the future, and something that will grow in value as the years pass.
Photography has an incredible power to span the generations, to crystalise moments in time, and to capture the imagination of the viewer, transporting the subjects back in time to old houses, old friends, old toys – the building blocks that make us who we are. These are things we can ensure are not forgotten. If you look back at an old photo, sometimes it’s the moment it was taken that is remembered, but more often it’s a feeling for the time – for the endless summers of childhood, for the squidgy sofa that was the best for watching television, for the long walks with Grandma and playing trains with Grandpa. These memories are what make a picture such a precious thing – it’s no coincidence that people often cite photo albums as being the first thing that they would save from a burning building.
Now with cameras at our fingertips and the sharing possibilities of the internet, photography has become more of an everyday activity – which can only be a good thing. It has also become more disposable, with poor quality pictures that aren’t printed, get lost on old hard drives or disappear when a phone is lost. There is definitely still a place for having professional portraits taken, pictures which show everybody at their very best and yet which capture the essence of your family. Pictures that are printed, enjoyed up on the wall and in high quality albums – pictures that you know will last. Having a photographer visit also ensures that everyone is included, as so often the parent who takes the pictures becomes absent in the record of important times.
Looking back on these photographs, they can’t help but bring joy. I love to look back over photographs of the families I have come to know so well over the years, to look at pictures of tiny newborn babies and recognise expressions that will become so characteristic as they grow older – future echoes of the personality to come. I also love to look back at photos of babies, old enough to sit up and play, interact with their parents and siblings, and to laugh; smiles that can look so like a parent or grandparent, but each child bringing something new to the equation, some spark of their own that marks them out as individuals. I love how a grumpy face can be as characteristic as a smile – the stony faced sulk of a toddler making its appearance regularly once again in the teenage years. These pictures never fail to elicit emotion – laugher, smiles and sometimes the bittersweet sadness of an image of a child enjoying time with a grandparent who is no longer with us – these pictures are so important to have.
There is never a right or a wrong number of photo shoots to have as children grow up, but grasping the opportunity to record your family will always be something you will be pleased you have done. You can’t go back in time to capture record the moments that have past. These pictures from one family’s photo shoots over the years will give an indication of just some of the ages you can capture of your own family – the different types of things you can do and, as you can see, the fun we have doing it.
I hope this might tempt you to make this year the year of your family portraits. I have worked with more than a thousand families and have over ten years’ experience, so you can be sure that I will capture the very best photographs of your family. To find out more about my approach, please visit my website at www.helenbartlett.co.uk or call 0845 603 1373.
Telephone: 0845 603 1373
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