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The Family Portrait

by Ally

Week 4 of my photo challenge – Family

One of the reasons I started this 52 week challenge and this blog was to connect with you better … any by you I mean whoever you are reading this: my followers, my past, present and future clients. I wanted to get you know you better, and by the reverse coin I wanted to allow you into my life so you can get to know me better – the girl behind the lens.

But when is too much information too much? I’m sure none of you particularly want to know what day of the week I do my laundry? … Incidentally, it’s whenever the washing basket is too full.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a family is “a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit”. This did somewhat surprise me! For someone who has been a single parent for a number of years, the requirement of having two parents to form a family seems at best outdated!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed my post yesterday which contained a very different definition of family. If you don’t follow me on Instagram yet, then you totally should. Have a look at the top right hand corner of this page and you will notice a little Instagram symbol. Click on it, then click follow.

In my opinion families are all different and they are fluid. What your family looks like now, may be different to what it looked like a few years ago, and may still be different to what it will look like in a few years’ time. People may come into your family, others may leave. Families are not always linked by blood relations or by marriage. Families often include friends, pets, neighbours, exes. Families are complicated.

This is a photograph of what my family looks like right now. For the purpose of clarification, from left to right we have … Ralph, the black labrador who really doesn’t like the sound a saxophone, Mark who actually enjoys washing up (he’s weird, I know!), yours truly, and 8 year old Max whose bedroom looks like a bomb has hit it!

I took my inspiration for this photograph from Sue Bryce, who is a fantastic portrait photographer and educator. I had the huge pleasure of meeting Sue at the SWPP convention a couple of years ago. She was an inspiration before, and has been an even bigger inspiration since.

What I wanted to achieve with this photograph was a fine art family portrait, with muted tones and a timeless feel. One that looks almost like a painting. One that you can imagine having framed and hung on a wall in your living room.

Usually I would have used different height chairs for a family portrait, but I knew this wouldn’t work with Ralph. The sofa is his most favourite place in the whole house, so I knew that if I wanted to capture Ralph at his best, the sofa would be the only solution.

Next we had to set up my new extra wide black background behind the sofa, set up the tripod, do my hair and get everyone to change into something black. Ralph was ready first!

They say that you should never work with animals or children, but I like a challenge! And surprisingly this was quite possibly one of the easiest family photo sessions I have ever done. And the most fun!

Oh, and if you are wondering how we managed to get Ralph to look at the camera when there was nobody behind it? Just balance a dog treat on top of the camera … works wonders!!!

The moral of the story? There is no such thing as a perfect family, but there will always be one that is perfect for you! So don’t wait! Capture the moment! Take that family photograph! And if not, come over to my studio and allow me to capture your family for you. Because one day, these photographs are all your children and grandchildren will have of you.

And on that note, I shall leave you with some outtakes from our imperfectly perfect family session … I think I prefer them to the actual family portrait!

When Ralph had enough
And then he came back to sit ON us!
The boys are chillin’ … being a model is really hard work!

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