At The Kitchen Table

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This week, Olive sat in her shiny new high chair and took her first chomps of avocado, carrot and sweet potato. Although we don’t want to wish time away, this is one thing me and Suzi have been really looking forward to. Sitting down at the table in the kitchen and eating our food together.

I’ve been creating a body of work ‘At the Kitchen Table’. I’m not sure yet if it might be a chapter in our book or an exhibition in the future, i just felt it was the right time to start talking about it, and to ask you for your stories, and if you’d like to take part?

It all started a couple of years ago when I did a shoot with jeweller Toby Cotterill and he told me about the history of his work bench. His Dad is a furniture maker, and he made their childhood kitchen table. It became the centre of their family life, as it is to many families. But this kitchen table evolved, and after some alterations, Toby now uses this table as his work bench.

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It felt very poignant as my Mum and Dad were just moving out of our childhood home, and I remembered all those times sitting at the table. We had a set time for tea every night. While Mum cooked, me and my sister laid the table and Dad hovered. After tea, we’d clear the plates, and I’d sit down back at the table to do my homework, and Dad would read the paper.

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Since doing our family shoots, I’ve noticed how many photos I take of families there. It is so central to life. We usually start shoots at the table, having a chat and a cup of tea before the camera comes out of my bag. It’s good to see the family interacting around the space. I guess I’ve become a bit fascinated by them, these places where we’re nourished both in food and conversation. Since chatting about it on Instagram, I’ve had people sending me stories of their kitchen tables. A common theme are the rules of the table. No phones, all sitting down at the same time to eat, chatting about our days. Family feasts where spare tables are brought down from the loft. This reminded me of our own family get togethers at Grandma & Grandad’s house. The adults would sit at the big table, and the children would sit at the kiddies table. As the oldest cousin, I was still sitting at the kiddies table until I was around 18!

I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be involved in my project (Yorkshire area for now but there may be a table tour later this year!). What do you use your table for? Is it a place you sit and watch the world go by? Have your tea, work, read? Plan big adventures? Play table tennis, look at your family photographs? Have arm wrestles, play board games, craft, chat? If you’re in the Yorkshire area, I’d love to add to the collection of images I have. Would you like to be a part of the project?

Here are a collection of shots and ideas so far.

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The tables themselves also have a story to tell. The grains and stains, the chips, the marker pen that doesn’t quite rub off. We swapped our kitchen table with our friends, and on there are felt tip marks from drawings and crafting projects, we don’t want to get rid of them.

These tables are where we eat together, talk together, take time to be alone. Laugh, play and plan. Would you like to be a part of it? We’d love to hear about you and your table.

Ethel & Mabel

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Ethel and her sister Mabel, have such a sense of old world charm and style. I started documenting their life, (well actually at the time it was just Ethel), back in early 2015. I’d heard Ethel liked a cup of tea, and I wanted to record a Saturday morning with her at her house. If you’ve been following my new project on Instagram, I guess she was my first Tea For Two! And then, a year later, Mabel came into the world. Spending a morning with them was the first step into filmmaking for me, and the film I made still has such a special place in my heart. Roll on three years, and I went back up to document their morning together recently. I hope they’ll cherish these photos of them in their childhood home as much as I’ve loved documenting their life there. My style and edit choices might have changed a bit, but the sentiment remains the same. Here’s Ethel and Mabel, a story in mornings, so far.

It starts with Ethel. When I first arrived at her house, she took me by the hand, sat me down, and started to recount stories about her summer holiday. Her morning unfolded - reading books, dunking buttery biscuits into steaming cups of tea, all to the soundtrack of Saturday morning tunes on the record player.  

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And then, along came Mabel….

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And our latest shoot together…

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This is what we love about our portrait shoots, documenting these moments in life that may feel insignificant at the time, but looking back, are so poignant.  Beauty in the small things, beauty in the everyday.

If you’d like us to document your family life, we’ve just added some new packages. If you’d like to take a look, just click on the photo link below. We’d love to tell your story.





Capturing Childhood - Taking Better Photos Of Your Kids Part 3

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If you've been following our tips for taking better photos of your kids over the holidays, and beyond, here's the last part. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In this part we'll look at movement, the details, shooting through the seasons, and finding your style. 

THE DETAILS
It's great  to take photos of the little details. It might be a favourite toy, little feet, sandy hands. Important details that make up the essence of a child.

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And then on the other hand, show the child in their environment, a small person in a big world.

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THE SEASONS

Shooting through the seasons can be a great way to document your family's story over a year. If you're starting out as a portrait photographer, it's a great way to build your portfolio. Maybe ask family and friends if you can take photos of them. Just having images of these different times of year can give your work a cohesive feel, and think about all that lovely light you're going to get! We always get very excited when a family books us for a winter shoot. Not only those big coats and bobble hats, but maybe there might be mittens on string, wellies, a flurry of snow, and of course, that gorgeous low light! You can always start or end the shoot at home where big mugs of cocoa are on hand.

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MOVEMENT

There is inevitably going to be some running and racing around, on our shoots we actively encourage it! If you have a DSLR, you will most probably have a setting on your camera that will continuously focus if this is what you’d like to go for. I like to freeze movement so I will have my shutter speed quite high.

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But sometimes I like to show movement too, so my shutter speed will be set to show running or a jumping on the bed moment!

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SETTINGS VS CREATIVITY

We talked about this a lot on our last capturing childhood retreat. The technical aspects are important so you're shooting knowing you're in control of your camera, but sometimes I think we can be panicking so much about what aperture and shutter speed we're on that we can miss moments. Those shots that even though may be 'technically imperfect', will still shine through as it gives you those goosebumps. I love this quote by Peter Adams; 'Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field'.

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FINDING YOUR STYLE

It would be boring if we all took the same shot. That’s what makes me tick as a photographer, people’s interpretations. Try things out, experiment. You’ll start to see and feel something in your photos that you love, maybe it's the kind of light you like. Some of you will know that I've been enjoying taking freleensed shots in some of my portrait shoots. I detach the lens and then hold it close to the camera body. It can give a photo an ethereal, dreamy feel with different focal points and light leaks.

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PRINT YOUR IMAGES!

You often hear people saying that their most treasured possessions are their photos. For me, it’s the images of me and my sister growing up over the years, and the adventures we had. We still love to huddle around the photo albums, reminiscing days gone by. I'm so grateful for having these images printed. Something tangible to hold and touch. This feeling me and Suzi both had about our photos led us to create our own photo wallets for clients.

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We really hope you've enjoyed the Capturing Childhood blogs, and that they have been useful to you. We still have a couple of places left on our next Capturing Childhood Photography Retreat over the weekend of September 22nd & 23rd. Looks like we've got a lovely bunch of people coming from all over the country, and if you'd like to be part of it, we'd love to have you along. I can't tell you how much me and Suzi love these weekends, it's a safe learning environment with lots of practicals, discussions and lovely homemade grub! You can have a look at more information and book your place here.

In the meantime, if you do have any questions, me and Suzi would be happy to help, just ask away. Happy photographing, and maybe we'll see some of you on a retreat soon!

All the best

Sarah & Suzi x

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