A while back I began a little series of posts entitled Emblems where I share images that help to explain my style, approach and various observations made the years I have been photographing children and families. So to kick this off again, I thought I’d share a silhouette shot from a recent day out in Oxshott, Surrey KT2.
In any newborn, baby, family, or children’s photography session, my overriding desire is to capture images of children that will instantly transport their parents back in time to their spirit of their child at that particular age. I love to capture the unique bonds between parents and their children, the connections between siblings, as well as classic individual portraits of the children on their own. I also like to produce images that will remind parents, for example, of the physical energy of their child at that time, or a child engaged in a activity that they loved at this juncture of their childhood. In any set of images I produce on a session, I want my clients to recall all those physical memories but also the emotions and for those emotions to return for them each and every time they look at those images in the years ahead.
It is always so lovely to receive feedback from a client when they first view their images. Yesterday I had this email from Majse in reaction to her daughter’s Christening photography, and in particular the portraits I’d captured of her son Karl that morning before the family occasion commenced:
‘Anna: firstly let me say that we LOVE the pictures… we really feel that you have managed to capture the feeling of the day, but also the essence of Karl. Those pictures from the morning are just wow!’
However, on any photography session, as well aiming to produce images of their children that resonate emotionally with parents, I sometimes capture other types of pictures, sometimes quite stylised or graphic images that are more symbolic of their childhood at that point, and a silhouette is a good example of this. I’m always looking out for a opportunity to shoot something like this (one needs to anticipate the action, see the light and potential for a composition and be ready to very speedily adjust the camera settings to fool the camera’s exposure meter and go for it) but it’s well worth it as they are always loved and often end up quite large on the walls of my clients’ homes either as glass framed prints or more often as modern wood block prints, a wall display product I offer that is so suited to these kind of simple, graphic images – and has great impact on a wall
The silhouette below shows a timeless activity that young children love to do and one I see time and again on the many walks I accompany families on with my portrait sessions: a child eagerly running ahead of everyone else, delighting in their own world, and every now and then jumping in the air, invariably with stick in hand. This shot actually reminds me a little of AA Milne’s wonderful silhouetted illustration of Christopher Robin and Pooh bear jumping into the air as they skip off together into the landscape – a picture that perfectly sums up the joie de vivre and spirit of adventure that every child experiences when let loose in a landscape to be free to do as they wish.
Although this image is more generic than one that would actually show us the expression on this young boy’s face, images like this are never completely anonymous or without emotion. Indeed, sometimes there is more emotion that jumps out of an image when you actually don’t show the face. In this case, it’s the physical language of this ten year old boys body that speaks to us as he jumps into the air just before emerging from the tunnel into the sunshine and open space beyondm – and we can imagine the expression on his face and feel that spontaneous and uninhibited moment of happiness in such a simple childhood activity:
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