One beautiful Autumn day, Adam and Tina got married.
By 2003 I had stopped capturing weddings, and Adam and Tina had gone on with their lives.
Six years later I was starting to take a deeper interest in photographing families.
So I reached out to my old wedding clients to see if they would be interested in a family photo session.
Adam and Tina said yes.
It was not yet called ‘Your Family Story’ and I was still finding my feet with this new idea of doing ‘family portraits’.
All I knew was that I didn’t want cheesy smiles and awkward poses, which seemed to be the order of the day for family photography.
Adam is a building designer and Tina is actively involved behind the scenes. They loved the opportunity to give their family photos some context with buildings and man-made structures that they could explore with their little girl Ella. We settled on Reconciliation Place (by the lake in Canberra) which was perfect because the whole area is dotted with fantastic shapes, lines, forms and geometry.
And let’s not forget Chilli the dog.
Following this photo session I went to the US, Canada, Europe, UK and South Africa for six months. The entire focus of the trip was to capture families in their daily life and circumstance.
The development of this concept over a concentrated period led to a clearing in my mind that this was more than just family portraits.
I wasn’t interested in the aesthetic. I was more interested in capturing who they were.
Concurrently I had been photographing the real-life journey of my sister’s growing family since 2006. It gave me that extra couple of years behind me and the chance to step back and see what I was actually doing.
I concluded that I was capturing a story as it unfolded, that each photo session represented a new chapter in a book that was being written in real time, hence the name as it now stands, Your Family Story.
Back to Adam and Tina.
Tina announced that she was expecting their second child.
Rather than capture a solitary moment, this was an excellent opportunity to delve more deeply into the circumstances, moments, personalities and connections that would arise out of the birth of a new baby over the course of six months.
We agreed to undertake four photo sessions in 2010 – pregnancy, at the hospital, newly home, and 3 months on.
Their final collection came to 180 beautiful images. Here is a sample of what we captured.
Behind the scenes
You’ll notice that there are hardly any moments of eye contact with the camera.
My role was to be there, without being there.
Their role was to talk, laugh, walk around, kiss, cuddle, play, jump, dance, interact, do their natural thing.
It’s their family’s uniqueness and magic that I wanted to capture.
I have a particular question in my mind that governs my decisions:
what’s going on here that they’ll want to see again and again, 50 years from now?
I believe when people smile for real, different muscles move in their face.
That’s why it’s important to focus on who they’re with, not the camera.
If I could be invisible, I would be.
Failing that, I always say, let’s pretend for a couple of hours that the words ‘photo’, ‘photographer’ and ‘photography’ don’t exist in the English language. That’s it.
These behind the scenes were captured by the very talented Haley Richardson.
How it was showcased
Adam and Tina’s 2010 Family Story was showcased in a beautiful leather bound mantle book. The cover and inclusions were customised. Personalised text accompanied the images to remind them of all those things they used to say.
High quality canvas framed wall art was also produced with that gorgeous picture of Ella peering into the pond from 2009.
What Tina and Adam had to say …
‘Thank you Beth for allowing us the opportunity to capture these special moments.
When we first spoke about doing a ‘pregnancy shoot with a difference’ I couldn’t wait to see what you had in mind. Having complete trust and faith in you and your approach to photography I happily ‘strutted’ my big budda belly in front of the camera, playing with Ella and letting time pass us by just hanging out and having fun in front of a bold coloured graffiti wall. Little did I know that these fun times would result in such a dynamic and lively pregnancy shoot – bring it on – we love it!
The hospital – good golly! Swollen and puffy yet blissfully happy. I wondered how these shots would turn out. As always, un-posed and natural (what we love about shoots with you) they show the purity of the first days of a new life – the shneegles, the tiredness and the pure love of all of us sharing in the moments of meeting our new family member. Take a look at our faces – they say it all! Some may think a photo shoot in the hospital might be awkward and a self conscious scary experience – we didn’t even notice that you were there – a fly on the wall so to speak, silently and unobtrusively snapping memories away for us.
You would never know that the photographs of us at home were taken at 5pm – lovingly referred to as chaos hour. The time of day when it’s all happening – dinner, breast feeding, bath, story time and finally bed ……. This is what we love about you. Life goes on and you observe. How you managed to create such fantastic, artistic and creative shots during such a busy time is beyond me!
Creating our family story with you, Beth, is fun and easy …… a fly on the wall ? Nah, you’re much lovelier than a fly ….. as Ella would say, a lady bird or maybe a butterfly!
Tina and Adam
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