24 Jun

Musings On Photography

There’s nothing like having one’s own child to make one get into a reflective mood – especially when one seems suddenly to have many more hours in which to be reflective (translation: I think a lot during my 3am feed).

One of the things I’ve been pondering lately is my relationship to photography. Many years ago, photography was my hobby and it was really fun. Then I started my photography business. No matter how much you love something, when you make it your full-time occupation, it will sometimes feel like a job – a job you chose and a job you mostly love, but a job nonetheless.

With that in mind, I am constantly striving to keep photography interesting for myself. As soon as I start to feel that I’m getting tired of what I’m doing, I change. The philosophy that has always driven my style is “how would I want this photographed myself?” The best way to create work that others want to buy is to make something I would buy, if I were the client. It’s similar to the saying about buying gifts: the best gift to give is something that you would want yourself (unless you’re into collecting garden gnomes).

Having a child has compounded this feeling for me. Just as I wanted to explore pregnancy photography when I was carrying Baby (shoot 1, 2a, 2b, 2c, and 3), now I want to explore the kind of images a mother values of her child.

I love thinking about the variety of images that James and I can create to celebrate Baby. I feel so lucky that I have the opportunity to bring her into the studio whenever I want to play with her there, using pro backdrops, props and lights. Only in the studio would I be able to create the image at the top of this post, which I love because it captures her perfection (in my eyes, anyway). I look at this picture when I’m trying to express milk (they say it helps to get more out) because it fills my heart with love. She’s become my little muse.

But just as valuable for telling her story as these professional-grade images are the snapshots that James and I take on our iPhones. While the former photographs celebrate the beauty we see in her, the latter informal iPhone images celebrate her developing quirks and smirks. I have about 500 pics of her “poo face”. I’m already planning to put together a book after her first year with excerpts from the blog and all the images we’ve taken, whether they’re masterpieces or just-for-fun pieces.

On one of my late night Internet adventures, where I swing from link to link on my iPad while Baby breastfeeds, I came upon this wonderful site that made me feel really nostalgic. It was one of those “I wish I’d thought of that” moments and, to me, this is what photography is all about and why it’s so valuable. I love this idea of superimposing the past on the present, of revisiting where we’ve been, and it’s made me want to get my hands on my childhood photo albums and give this a go. My father and I used to travel in Europe together every summer when I was a girl and it would be a good excuse to take Baby to some amazing places, like Paris and Venice, where I spent many summers. It would also be fun to photograph Baby in these same places as I was photographed, to show the next generation.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I want Baby to have amazing family albums that will serve as a memory for her and an aide memoire for me, using words and pictures. For example, neither of my parents can remember what my first word was, but they do seem to remember that I said, “I’ll do it my way” a lot.

James and I are also working on a film for her with interviews from all of her grandparents (with two sets of divorced, mostly remarried parents, that’s a lot of people). I suppose that being in the business of recording lives has made us want to do it tenfold for ourselves.

I’ll leave you with  this bizarre link to a project involving some Freaky Friday family photos by German artist Paul Ripke. I might give this a go, just for laughs and because I can.



  1. 24 Jun

    Deborah Tracey

    I think that’s a lovely idea of putting everything together to serve as a memoire. It’s nice for you and baby to look back at in say 20 years time. Photos are the best way to remember all those little things that are so easily forgotten.

  2. 25 Jun

    Rosie Woodhouse

    As a Mum and step-mum 3 times over and with both my parents gone I can’t tell you enough how right you are about capturing those moments. My children are linked to their grandparents by the digital slideshow that plays everyday in our house of my parent’s story, my early years and my children’s precious few moments with my parents. The shots may be grainy, the composition “interesting” but they maintain a link that last forever. Damnit, I made myself cry – but I really wanted to validate what you instinctively know:)

  3. 26 Jun

    Julia from ICAWatermelon

    That’s such a lovely thought, Rosie. Thank you for sharing. It’s amazing how some of the most *imperfect* photographs are the ones we love the most.

  4. 30 Jun


    Love this post and especially love the link to that site you posted. The picture of the elderly man looking at the bench where he and his wife clearly used to sit just melted my heart! Memories are so important and baby is so lucky to have you putting so much thought into it x

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