One day your children will be grown up and you'll want to look through your photo collection and remind yourself how brilliant and bonkers and beautiful their childhood was.
I don’t know about you, but my children don’t tend to run through lavender fields wearing straw hats and very clean clothes on a regular basis. When they were newborns, as far as I remember (and that time is a bit of a blur), I didn’t make a habit of bunging them in a rustic basket surrounded by daisies for a kip and they didn’t wear teeny little crowns on their heads. But so many of us rely on the annual photo shoot with a professional family photographer to capture the essence of childhood. Plus the odd snap we take of them. Smiling. Standing in front of things.
When I’m old(er) and grey(er), I want my photo album to be real. The photos that I love the most in my growing collection are the ones of our everyday existence. The ones that sum up what a quirky bunch we are, that fact that we’re pretty noisy (sorry neighbours), we like making things and pulling silly faces and dancing around the kitchen. Sometimes we’re REALLY grumpy, and shouty and messy, and we all get on each other’s nerves. Other times we’re the best of friends, pinching ourselves that we’re so bloomin’ lucky to be alive on this sunny day in our garden. Each family has its own unique character – you will have a different story to tell about yours – but I’ll take a wild guess that what unites all of us reading this is the desire to take beautiful photos that show what our family is REALLY about. Real life. Not lavender fields and charming baby receptacles. In a nutshell, while we like a *teeny* bit of rose tinting on our spectacles, we don’t want to so much that we can’t see what’s in front of our faces anymore.
Now here’s the problem. We know WHAT we want but we don’t know HOW to get it. The camera just frankly won’t play ball and all the photos just seem lacking in emotion and just a bit dull and meaningless. A friend with two young children once said to me:
“I can see in my head exactly how I want my photo to look, I just don’t know how to make my camera take it”.
I KNOW how frustrating this is. You’ve bought the flashy DSLR camera (because that will take good photos, right??), but you’re totally bewildered by the complexity of the thing and the manual might as well be written in Ancient Greek. So you turn to the Internet or a book for guidance but everyone is saying something different and it’s so complicated and you don’t know who to believe. You’re not a technical genius, you’re not trying to become a great artist and you’re not interested in taking photos of mountains, eagles or naked ladies. You don’t have time to sit down and eat lunch, let alone dig through an avalanche of information to pick out the bits you need. All you want is beautiful photos of your children so you remember it all how it really was. And you want it right away please, real life is happening right now and you need to hit the ground running.
This is why I set up the Small Beans Photo School. I teach one thing and one thing alone – how to take great photos of your children. Our courses are short, simple and suitable for beginners (I know you’ve got enough on your plate as a parent already, so I’m not going to try to turn you into the next Annie Leibovitz).
I promise three things:
1. Your photography will get (a lot) better. Quickly.
2. You’ll have fun. You’ll get to try things out rather than just sitting and listening, and share ideas with like-minded parents.
3. I’ll only teach you what you NEED to know. I won’t do photo geek on you.
4. You’ll get a nice cake (OK, that’s 4).
I would LOVE to teach you. I LOVE watching my students getting those lightbulb moments when they finally realise how to work their camera and take what’s in their head and squish it into a picture. But what’s EVEN better, the thing that makes me sing a little tune when I wake up in the morning, is seeing the AMAZING photos that they are taking and knowing that those pictures are going to be part of their family history for generations. These photos aren’t perfect, but they are beautiful and precious and unique. No props or lavender required.