A couple of years ago, I took the photo above and I posted it on Instagram and Facebook. And then an intriguing comment appeared, "Ooh, that looks just like a Vermeer". At this point, please forgive my ignorance. What's a Vermeer, I thought. One quick Google later, I knew. I didn't think I'd heard his name before, but I had back in school days, I just hadn't retained it. What I did remember, in those dusty recesses of my mind, was looking at those beautiful paintings in over-sized books in the school library.
It was the start of a new year, and I'd been itching to take photos a little differently. This moment was a turning point for me, I knew I loved this image, but couldn't quite put my finger on it. I loved the tones, the simplicity of it. I've always been drawn to the dark, but a dark that's shattered by a pop of light, whether from a window, a gap in the trees, or a sunny spot on a staircase. Especially with shoots in a family home, I naturally look for this type of light. It's the light that really makes me tick. Suzi always knows when I've found it as I'll take a sharp intake of breath! Looking at more Vermeer paintings online, I was so taken with the light, the contrasts and shadows and how he managed to capture the beauty in the everyday in such a striking way.
There are a few theories that Vermeer used a camera obscura that may have helped him to create depth and composition and intensify the contrast between light and shadows. To me he is the ultimate lightseeker. The way he used light went hand hand in hand with his style.
Since then, I've been seeking a more painterly quality in my photos and using light a little differently to how I was before that photo of a mother and her new baby.
We've been discussing how we use light on our retreats too, we love passing on what we've learnt. It always seems to be the subject that people get most excited about. If you'd like to join us on our next retreats, just let us know, or take a look at the retreats page on our website here.
And keep a look out for those gorgeous pools of light spilling through curtains in the morning, illuminating your favourite walk through the trees, or highlighting the stairs. There's magic in the everyday.