Hair by maxine smith
Hair by maxine smith
The snow has been and gone, as fast as it came. A week ago we had clouds of snow & sledging and shooting (I do everywhere I can) was part of our Sunday. My version of a snow angel, otherwise how can I get away with making a child lie in the snow..
We live a life that is constantly rushing and striving forward. We have the world at our fingertips with the technology that we can access in a second. That’s great but I often think that it comes at a cost. I don’t think we stop often enough and just exist. This week has been a draining one & I’ve found comfort in looking backwards to last summer. The days were long and we spend so much in my sisters garden. The kids were unplugged from iPads and played, as my sister and I had as children. There is so much more pleasure to me in being outside, soaking up the light, instead of absorbing it from a blue screen. My nephews remind me of the fun of being little. Something that I’m holding onto right now.
All girls are secret magpies. Over this summers shoots I have taken my glitter ball each time and the sequin cape. These 2 props are something that every girl has picked out & wanted to be shot with. The challenge then comes to make each image feel unique to the child that I am photographing. I don’t want to “cookie cut” when taking photographs. You can use the same elements but they have to look different. I’ll just have to get more imaginative each time I guess!!
I get asked a lot about how I get the shots of the children in the way that I do. It is like children are programmed to smile at the camera as soon as they see it. This is something I actively work against. My shoots are fun & we laugh but when it comes to what I shoot I prefer for the camera not to take centre stage.
I don’t think about what I do generally but when photographing this boy, we didn’t even speak the same language. It is an image that sits in my style. Despite our language barriers I have been let into the child’s space & trusted with a camera there.
It made me realise, in the same way as when photographing animals, sometimes the connection isn’t about language but more about time. I take time to interact with those that I photograph, I get let into their spaces & the results say so much more to me because of this.
Children’s photography is a genre dominated but cliques. I’m glad that I get to share my view of their worlds in a slightly different way.
Sometimes my future feels a long long way away. I made the decision to focus on the photography that I love, children’s photography. I shoot commercially for fashion brands & also do portraiture shoots by commission. It is scary sometimes to let everything else go.
There is so much that I love to photograph in this world but when it comes down to the essence of what makes me happy, it is photo shoots with children. I say it a million times but the freshness with which they view the world makes me smile & remember that it is the perspective that we apply that makes us see the positives in life.
Being freelance & actively narrowing your opportunities feels counter productive but at the same time it could just mean I focus completely on where I want to reach. Shooting children’s commercial photography, i’m not going to stop until i’m shooting International campaigns!
* I will still be photographing food, but this is my therapy!!
Hair Styling Vicky M Hair
I can’t stop with the Black and whites at the moment. I think this is because they strip all of the emotions out that colour makes our minds trigger. A black and white photograph is about the raw essence of what the film has recorded. The eyes are for me the ultimate connector. You see who a person is.
This image was always going to be a colour edit but as I worked today I was thinking about the power of how an image can be changed & as Kaya is growing he is changing every minute. This image in black and white kind of stops time for me at this point in the summer.
I will never stop loving black and white. It’s where i feel at home. & it is somewhere that i can re-visit as Kaya grows up (and stops letting me photograph him)!
So this is what happens when you are photographing more than one child on a shoot. The others find the body paint pens & draw on each other! Still going in a different direction sometimes has my favourite results. Followed by a very deep bath!
The baby photography industry is a saturated one. There are so many ‘cute’ examples of babies in plant pots, swaddled tightly sleeping or a little girl in a tutu and headband. Although often gorgeous, they just aren’t how I see babies.
I see the world how I see the world. I’ve read how we are the sum of every book that we have ever read, every film that we have ever seen, every song that we have ever heard & how there can never be another one of us as our life experiences are subjective & therefore unique.
My viewpoint of the world doesn’t differ, however old the subject that I photograph. I approach children, as I would adults, as I do babies. This seems to be an unusual approach. I am differing from industry norms because I don’t change my approach for the age of whom I am photographing. I see the world how I see the world & when photographing babies this is how I see it.
Someone asked me this week and asked how I got all the children that I photographed to look so “moody & sad”. I have a tone and a mood that I want to achieve in a proportion of the images that I shoot but I guess the upside is that we do have a lot of fun on shoots. This is how most of the shoot actually looks!
Photographing children is a process of patience, not for this model, she is fab! but this shoot involved a lot going off plan with some of the other models! It all came good in the end, work i’m editing now
I select certain images for my portfolio, but behind the scenes this is what’s happening! A rare glimpse into the behind the scenes of children’s photography!!
they say the one that leaves first protects themselves…. but what is that from?
Hair by Vicky Millington
I don’t often write much here, as I let my images tell my stories. Today though I am going to share an experience I got to be part of yesterday… My nephew, Kaya, got to have his first haircut. Well his first haircut in a barbers. A really cool place in Manchesters’, Northern Quarter, called Close Male Grooming Salon
Close have 4 salons across Manchester & are a chilled environment with experienced & talented stylists. Alex, who cut & styled Kaya, made it fun for him & taught him how to style his hair with products. He ultimately did what I try to do when photographing children.. he treated Kaya like an equal, his opinion counted.
Kaya is aware of the camera, he’s not had a lot of choice, he was who I started photographing & he was the reason I first started to work for others, as they saw the images I created of him & his brother. He had started gelling his hair in the last few weeks & was desperate to have it all cut off to look like singers in bands, or to just express himself. My sister was ace letting me take Kaya to Alex. But this was all about what Kaya wanted. He loved his new cut & loved Alex & can’t wait to go again. I felt lucky to be part of his growing up.
Ultimately what I want all my images share is connection. I always used to say that a good image is made up of 3 parts. Part of me, as the photographer, my viewpoint & narrative. Part of the subject that I am photographing, child, adult or animal. The third part I used to describe as ‘the magic’, ‘the magic’ being the part that made a good image.
As I have evolved I now know there is no such thing as magic, well there is, but it isn’t something as vague as ‘magic’. In fact what makes a good image is in fact a connection.
Photography is an intimate thing. The people that you photograph are letting you into their space, they trust you. Lifting a camera between you is like standing with a sheet of glass between you & the subject being photographed. As a photographer I am constantly talking to whoever I am photographing. I am connecting, it’s humans, it’s what we do. Someone that is being photographed has to trust you. The sheet of glass has to be broken through.
Not just that you understand the light and how to work your camera, but trust that you will show them in the way they want to be seen. This might not stand in the same way with animals or children, but it still matters. They have to buy into what you are creating. I love animals and kids, as I think they let you in & are happy to share their worlds. Obviously some prefer to be photographed over others but when you do break through it is worth it.
I took some pictures of Kaya after his hair cut where he felt very grown up & was so so proud of how he looked. Sometimes though it’s not about how my images look. It’s about the connection. I have them in the black & white images but the image below is my absolute favourite. Kaya is showing how happy he is with his eyes. It’s the image that I will print & put on my wall, as the connection is so strong. It’s one of Kaya’s firsts in his life; feeling ‘like a grown up man.’ I love that everything is still exciting when you are little.
Thanks to Close for letting me photograph, as per my life! & thanks for making Kaya so happy!! He really thinks he looks like a mini Alex!! Check out their Facebook page to see!
The summer of ’76 was a heatwave. I never shoot with an era in place. I want my images to float in some kind of place in history.. but then sometimes a shoot just stops time and routes itself somewhere.
I’m so excited to shoot with these models again, they were a dream!