“What do you actually do all day?” – A week in the life of a family portrait photographer

27th January 2019 Child photography , , , ,

Two questions people often ask me about my work is what I do when I’m not actually taking pictures and how I manage to balance my work with having two young kids, so I thought I’d share a week behind the scenes to shed some light on it. All photos shot on my new phone (it felt very weird not to use my proper camera, but allowed me to take photos places where I wouldn’t take a hulking great Nikon D5).

The week I chose was not a typical week – but then I don’t think I ever really have a typical week! January is usually quite a quiet time for photographers but last week ended up being really busy, with the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers Convention and two photo shoots (people have babies and move house at all times throughout the year).

Monday

The day started off with a lovely big cuddle with both my children in bed, although the eldest then turned grumpy when I had to rush him to get ready for school. On Mondays I’m at home with my nearly 2 year old daughter. Today we went for a long walk/trike ride around our local streets.

Girl riding trike.

I find walking a creative practice, a great way to allow the time for ideas to come and develop. On this walk I started mentally planning a personal project about the area I grew up in – mulling over the logistics of dusting off my medium format camera, shooting on infra-red film, and where I could process and print it. It was also inspirational watching the wonder my daughter experiences in the mundane – how excited she is when finding a nice pebble, for example. The job of a family photographer is to find the beautiful in the ordinary and watching a toddler explore the world is a great reminder of how to do that.

Mother and daughter napping together

After lunch we had a long nap together (she still doesn’t sleep fantastically at night so I grab my extra sleep where I can) and then picked up my son from school. On Mondays we usually go to Woodcraft Folk, a very positive organisation that had a large influence on my childhood. I’m privileged to have been a leader of our local group since it’s beginning. However, today my son wasn’t feeling well so instead we all played at home. There’s quite a big age gap between my kids so it can be difficult for them to play with each other but today they really enjoyed making a bed for all their cuddly toys together.

Due to one ill child and one teething child we had to be in and out of the kids rooms all evening so didn’t really have any time to relax, which is very hard.

Tuesday

My friend and very talented make up artist Amina Salahuddin popped over this morning. It is great to chat to another freelancer about things like pricing and projects we can work on together. My daughter is a cuddly little girl who was happy to sit on my lap while we chatted and to do her favourite thing – playing with play-doh.

Girl playing with play-doh.

Another long nap together in bed and then my in-laws came in the afternoon as they do every Tuesday. They played with the kids while I started the homework for an online course I’m doing. My mother in law brought dinner which meant I didn’t have to cook and got to chill out a bit in the evening.

Wednesday

My daughter was at the childminders. We’ve been very lucky to find a local husband-and-wife team with a small dog that she absolutely loves going to. I never feel bad leaving her there. They send us photos of her throughout the day so we can see what she’s up to. While she was there I went to the SWPP convention. I go every year to the trade show but this is the first time I have been for the Masterclasses and they were brilliant – really informative and inspiring.

It was a very long day. I got up and left while everyone else was still in bed and although I hate getting up early it was really nice to have a calm, quiet house to myself first thing in the morning. On the walk to the station I was struck, as always, by the amount of birdsong. When we lived in Loughborough Junction no one had front gardens and there were few birds. The first time I walked to the station early in the morning from our current house it sounded like a rainforest in comparison.

As well as all the interesting talks at the convention I met up with a few photographers – some I know but haven’t seen for years and met some new ones. Working freelance it’s really important to make connections with other photographers as you don’t have any real colleagues and it can get lonely. It was also a nice change to have lunch and dinner on my own and have some thinking time, but as soon as I got home I had to deal with a baby who had missed me all day and consequently had no evening again.

Thursday

My daughter was with the lovely childminders again. This morning I photographed the youngest newborn baby I have ever done – she was only 4 days old. It was one of my favourite types of sessions – a newborn joining a family with an older sibling. The sister was the same age as my daughter, which made it easier as I spoke her language. After I got home I downloaded the pictures from the session and got the shopping delivery.

I then picked up my son from school. He usually has a swimming lesson on Thursdays that I take him to and try to cram in as many lengths as I can myself. However, he still wasn’t feeling great so we took advantage of the time his sister was at the childminders to make badges together at home instead and my day was a lot less rushed as a result. 

Home made badges

Friday

On Fridays my parents come to help with the kids – we are so lucky to have both sets of grandparents living nearby. Our kids have a very close relationship with all their grandparents and love spending time with them. This allows me to have Friday morning as my time to do my favourite thing – swimming at Tooting Bec Lido. It’s my favourite place in the world and I’m so lucky that I can go so regularly. On a weekday morning it is full of freelancers and retired people so there are always some interesting conversations in the sauna – a few weeks ago I was hearing about working in the Fire Brigade all over London from an ex-firefighter. I used to feel bad about taking this time for myself when I should be working or looking after the kids but then I signed up for the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships, which took place yesterday. I competed in my first ever swimming race, the 30 meters head up breaststroke (in the 40-49 age group, which is a bit of a shock). No wetsuits, gloves or socks allowed – just swimming costume and swim hat. To make sure I was able do this I had to stay acclimatised to the cold water so simply had to prioritise going to the lido every week. No more feeling guilty. (The water was 3.5 degrees yesterday and I came 2nd in my race and 13th overall in my age group, which I was very pleased with).

Temperature board at Tooting Bec Lido

After a hot drink and big lunch (swimming makes me really hungry) I went to photograph house interiors for my friend Hannah’s property management company. I then caught up with her over a cuppa and saw her newly landscaped garden. When I got back I worked on the coursework for my online course.

Dinner was my mum’s fabulous Spaghetti Bolognese and a lovely opportunity to spend some time with my family (kids, husband, and parents) all talking over each other at the table like the family in Saturday Night Fever (or our own English/Greek/Indian version of it). My parents also tidied up while we put the kids to bed, so me and my husband actually had time to chill out and watch a whole episode of True Detective together.

Saturday

Another early start for another full day of seminars at the SWPP.

Julia Boggio's talk at SWPP convention

I spent the breaks between seminars choosing a new album supplier and stopped to chat to the makers of Light Blue, the amazing studio management software I use to run my business. The show finished early so I got home in time to see the kids, which made everyone very happy. My youngest was quite unsettled in the evening so my husband and I only had time to watch a quick episode of The Mighty Boosh before bedtime.

Sunday

Finally, a relaxing morning. My husband took our son to Ninja School and my daughter and I had a nap.

In the late afternoon we all went to see the Winter Lights at Canary Wharf. It’s a thing me and my son usually do together but it was so much more crowded this year than when we have been previously, which made it difficult with a toddler who was insisting on walking. It’s also quite a late night for the kids so we didn’t manage to see much of it and I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures this year, but the kids enjoyed the adventure of going to London on the tube at night and went to sleep really quickly when we got back. Still, a pretty tiring end to a very tiring but fun week.

Boy's face at Winter Lights in Canary Wharf

 


Three brothers on a sofa lit my ambient light. Photographed by Anna Hindocha/Warm Glow Photo

Lifestyle family photo session, Streatham

17th October 2018 Child photography , , , ,

How to keep three young boys, who don’t particularly like having their photos taken and who definitely don’t smile on demand, engaged for a whole session? And get good photos of them?

These were questions that the mum of these boys had obviously asked herself in advance and had come up with great solutions to. Firstly, I had already met all the family, which really helps everyone to relax. Secondly, ample snacks were on hand so that the kids weren’t hungry. Thirdly, games and toys were set up in a couple of different rooms in the house, with both parents around playing with the kids. This meant that I could focus for a bit on one kid, and the others were doing something enjoyable and engaging rather than getting bored while waiting for their turn. It also meant that I could get natural action shots of the kids playing games they enjoy, meaning that the smiles are genuine as they are doing something that is fun for them. For the kids it was more like a day of games with their parents and brothers, the photography was incidental.

As a result of all this the session ran like a dream and I even got smiley photos of the child who doesn’t normally smile much.


Toddler girl sat in autumn leaves in Brockwell Park. Photographed by Anna Hindocha/Warm Glow Photo

It’s autumn!

12th October 2018 Child photography , , , ,

My favourite time of year for photography is back.

The light is beautiful: soft, golden, warm and glowing. The colours of the leaves create a varied, ever-changing, natural backdrop for photographs. I love immersing myself in them, which I can do most intensely when swimming through a floating carpet of them at Tooting Bec Lido. I also love watching children enjoy them, whether it is making leaf art with the kids at my Woodcraft Folk group or collecting the prettiest ones with my daughter as we walk to pick up her older brother from school. But my favourite way to enjoy them is photographing toddlers experiencing them fully on their own two feet for the first time, because the pleasure of this is twofold. The fun of the photo shoot itself and the ability to freeze those amazing colours forever, so that they can be looked back on in bare winter and more harshly lit summer and savoured again.

These pictures are from a session in Brockwell Park last October. We had some concerns about how the weather was going to be and if we might have to postpone the shoot but, as you can see, it turned out glorious.

If your family would like to come and play in the leaves with me this October, please get in touch.


Twins sitting on sofa. Photographed by Anna Hindocha/Warm Glow Photo

I love photographing twins!

4th October 2018 Child photography , , , ,

This mum initially got in touch with me about a newborn shoot but ended up booking a session when the twins were six months old. It was a great time to photograph this family. The twins were sitting up, smiling and interacting with each other. It also meant that we were able to do the session in their recently decorated, beautiful home. I love the dark blue wall and leather sofa combination.

I visited the family earlier in the week to meet them all and look at the space. This allowed me to consider the light in different areas of the house and identify the best places to take pictures. A pre-shoot visit like this always makes the session run much more smoothly and successfully, so please discuss it with me if you are considering making a booking.

Because I love photographing twins so much I offer a special package for them, so if you or anyone you know has twins get in touch for more details.


Head shots

12th September 2018 Head shots

 

This year the head shot side of my work has really grown. As a woman who runs her own business, word of mouth has brought other female freelancers and entrepreneurs who need good portraits for their websites and social media to me. I love taking these photographs because it gives me the opportunity to find out more about what other people do and why. It’s fascinating working closely with someone else to help them present themselves as they want to be presented.

I follow the same gentle approach with head shots as I do with family photography. The session is unhurried and my priority is making my client feel comfortable in front of the camera so that they can show the best of themselves. In the studio I work with the camera linked to a computer so that we can constantly review the images on screen together and decide what lighting to tweak, what poses and facial expressions are working best, if an outfit change would improve the pictures. We go back and forth between looking at the images and shooting more until my client is completely happy with the results, which I then gently retouch to bring out the best in them whilst still looking very natural. I also offer head shots on location, if that is more relevant to your business. I have a make up artist that I work with regularly if you’d like a little help in that department.

If you’d like to have a chat about my head shot packages, please get in touch.


Young girl standing in Battersea Park in autumn.

Autumn family portrait session in Battersea Park

1st November 2017 Child photography , , , ,

I have been so busy doing outdoor autumn photo sessions for the last couple of weeks that I haven’t had time to put any of the images online, but I had to share these.

This is the final session in my first year package with a wonderful family whose daughter I photographed at 7 months and as a newborn. As many families choose to, they had each one of their three sessions in different locations. So they now have studio images of their daughter, photographs taken at home and images taken at a favourite location. And what a great idea it was to do the location session in Battersea Park in the autumn.

Despite it being nearby, I’d never actually been to Battersea Park before. London has so many amazing parks that I am slowly working my way through but I think it may take me a lifetime. We postponed the session by a week, as the weather wasn’t good on the day we had originally booked it for. I’m really passionate about doing outdoor portrait shoots using beautiful available light so am always happy to rearrange to ensure we get the best pictures possible. I’m very glad we did this time. The colours of the leaves lit by the low sun were amazing.

As I said before, it’s always sad to finish a one year package but I’m very glad that we were able to do such a fun session as the last one with this family and that I got to see their daughter walking and looking so grown up.


Young boy exploring Sydenham Woods in Autumn photographed by Anna Hindocha/Warm Glow Photo.

In praise of autumn

3rd October 2017 Child photography , , , ,

I have just got back from my first truly autumnal swim of the year at Tooting Bec Lido. Small golden leaves softly rained down upon me as I swam and more floated on the surface of the water and lay on the bottom of the pool. I love the heat of summer, so always have a little disappointment to get over before I remember that autumn is the best time of year for outdoor photography.

It is particularly special for me, as it was after a lovely autumn session with three toddlers in the woods about five years ago that I came up with the name Warm Glow Photo. The combination of the amazing light you get at this time of year with the variety of golds, reds, yellows and browns of the trees and the leaves underfoot, as well as the freedom and excitement the children felt as they explored it, showed me the type of photographer I wanted to be.

I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite autumn pictures. If you’re interested in booking a session please get in touch. I really love photographing outside at this time of year and would like to do it as much as possible.


7 month old baby girl in tutu sitting on bed.

First Year Package: Seven months old

27th September 2017 Child photography , , , ,

This weekend I am doing the final session from a First Year Package with a wonderful family. This reminded me that I hadn’t shared their seven month session yet, as it was just before I went on maternity leave.

Of all the work I do, I love First Year Packages the most. Photographing the same family three times means I really get to know them and they become more comfortable with me, so the pictures get better and better. Even if the baby can’t remember me from one session to the next they see how their parents respond to me, which helps them to relax. I also get to see the child grow up, which is truly magical.

It has been lovely to get to know this family, who are very warm, friendly and welcoming. The fact that I did their newborn session when I had just discovered I was pregnant and this session when I was quite heavily pregnant made it extra special for me. I’m really excited to see their daughter again this weekend as she grows into a toddler. She already had such a wonderful character last time I photographed her, this time her personality will shine even more brightly.

This family are great to work with because they have lots of ideas for fun photos and really get into the session. What I enjoy most about photographing them is how clearly the parents’ love for their daughter shows in the images.


Family lit by ambient light in front of window.

Newborn photo session

19th September 2017 Child photography , , , ,

I’ve just been working on an order from this newborn session that I did right at the end of my pregnancy. Photographing so many newborns while I was pregnant was a massive privilege that I feel very grateful for. It put me in the right frame of mind to welcome my own daughter into the world.

Looking back on these pictures today is a little bittersweet as it reminds me just how quickly babies grow up. It wasn’t that long ago but this little girl will never be that tiny newborn again, that moment is gone forever. The baby that was in my tummy when I took these pictures is now on the cusp of crawling and about to start eating food!

On a less emotional and more practical note, I love using over-exposed windows as a background. It’s almost plain white but if you look closely you can see London buses, which shows where the family live.


Woman in vintage style diner dress in a bar.

Vintage Fashion Bowling Shoot

12th September 2017 Fashion , , , ,

Late last year I did a very exciting fashion shoot for Campbell Crafts. In our first time working on location together, we did a bowling themed shoot at All Star Lanes in Bayswater with Miss Victory Violet modelling Campbell Crafts latest creations. The venue was amazing. The decor was so beautifully evocative of another era. The staff were great to work with: nothing was too much trouble and they make a mean milkshake. Miss Victory Violet was very professional, friendly, easy to work with and looked amazing in the clothes.

However, the shoot was a little challenging. The lighting in the bowling alley, while perfect for a night out, was much to dark for photography. When I set up my portable studio flash I discovered that pretty much everything in a bowling alley is reflective (polished floors, chrome fittings, shiny balls), so avoiding reflections and glare was pretty tricky. I was also five months pregnant at the time, but thankfully everyone helped me get my massive amount of kit from the roof top car park to the basement bowling alley!

I love the variety and different experiences that this type of work brings, in addition to getting a chance to work with such interesting and creative people.

Here’s how the pictures looked when published in the spring issue of In Retrospect magazine.