Photographing Family - 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.





Stories Of The Everyday - Frames

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For us, in our photographs, we’re always tying to create a feeling of depth. We’re taking images in 2D of a 3D scene, and using various compositional elements in photos can really help to recreate this. So we thought it would be great to experiment with one of these elements for our next Stories Of The Everyday monthly theme.

You have the frame of your actual image, but we wanted to explore FRAMES within that frame. We’re thinking trees, windows, mirrors, shooting through objects, using people in the foreground, doorways, curtains. Once you start seeing frames around you, both indoors and out, it can really help bring your images to life. We wanted to share a few examples that you might like to try. We hope it gives you a bit of inspiration to go out there and try your own frame shots. We’d love to see your photos this month using the hashtag #storiesoftheeveryday_frames

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Thanks to our friend Dean for braving the cold so I could take the following shots, using the frame of the car windscreen.

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And switched focus between the two for a different feel.

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I used the frame of the doorway into Olive’s room to take a before and after shot…

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You will often see this technique below on TV or in films. When 2 people are having a conversation, the camera position is often over the shoulder of one of the characters. When the conversation shifts, the shot changes to over the shoulder of the other character. It’s a great technique to lead your eye in, frame, and create depth. I framed over Suzi’s shoulder with the washing clothes horse blurred out in the background left.

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Framing can be coupled with other compositional elements, for example, leading lines…

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And I love how you can subtly frame a subject by shooting through something. More often than not for me, this is leaves. I have the leaves pretty much touching the lens, get right in there!

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There’s nothing subtle about this frame, those silver birch trees made the perfect window.

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If you’ve just got your phone, try it there too. I held my phone right up to this wooden post to shoot through to the view on the opposite side of the valley.

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We went for a little walk around our village looking for different frames. We knew there were some strong stone frames at the church, but I found this frame of light too.

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Once you start seeing frames, it can really lift your photography. You’ve probably already been using them, but maybe this post will whet your appetite for trying a few more! We hope you find it useful, we’d love to hear your thoughts, and of course, see your photos! The hashtag to use on Instagram is #storiesoftheeveryday_frames. We’ll do a round up of all our shots at the end of the month.

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Capturing Childhood

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When me and Suzi talk about our business together, and why we do what we do, it always comes down to how we’d like everyone to be able to capture family life now, either by a pro, or in their own photographs, as these moments we’re documenting are the ones our future families will be holding close. There’s never been a time when there’s so much emphasis on this, to celebrate lives and tell their unique stories, catching the beauty of the everyday as well as the things that make you you.

On the 30th & 31st of March, we’re running our third CAPTURING CHILDHOOD photography retreat. You can click on this link to find all about it. As family photographers, we wanted to pass on what we’ve learnt over the last 10 years to other photographers who might just be setting up their business, or to parents who’d like to be able to document their own family life.

Nestled on the edge of woodland and moor, our retreats take place in a beautiful barn just above Hebden Bridge. It’s the perfect place to relax, learn, feast, and be inspired. Over the weekend there are a number of shoots we’ll do together with different aged children, and this culminates in a family shoot on the Sunday.

Over the weekend we look at how to use different light, capturing movement and connections, editing photos, finding your style, and you’ll leave with a portfolio of images from the shoots we have.

We wanted to share some photos taken by the people who’ve been on our capturing childhood weekends, so the following photos were all taken by our retreatees.

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If you’d like to learn with us, we’d love to have you. You can find more information and book your place on the Capturing Childhood weekend here.

‘The practical exercises and shoots with children and families of all ages were essential in boosting our confidence and also learning on the go. It was incredibly helpful to look through Sarah and Suzi's work and ask questions about logistics, kit, technique and lighting - seeking out pockets of natural light has been a game changer!  However, for me, the retreat went much further than the settings of the camera. I am so grateful for the opportunity to explore my photography on a much deeper level and start to understand not only how to take pictures, but question why I am taking them and what feeling I want to evoke when other people look at them. I would recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in capturing childhood moments - either as a parent or a photographer.’ Rosie




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