South London Photographer: Family albums and Son No 1 being mean…or just being a normal child… or something

Son No 1 left the house this morning telling me I was a disgusting mother who didn’t love him and only cared about myself. This as I was trying desperately to get him and Son No 2 out the house on time so they were not late for school, despite their best efforts to sabotage me, because I think it’s really important to be on time and want them to grow up knowing that. And all because I said for the about the 10 0000th time (and I’m sure I’m not exaggerating!) “Put your shoes on now and brush your teeth” – I mean come on; It’s not like I was asking them to amputate their left arms, or worse, do my domestic chores, or even go to work down a mine or up a chimney. Apparently, however, I’m being a truly unreasonable harridan from hell, because I beg each morning and then when I sense I’m not being heard at all resort to yelling abrasively and far too loudly (ask Ms. B about my loudness…), “make sure you’re ready before you go on the computer in the morning as per the well established house rule which you insist on ignoring”. More fool me, of course, for allowing the same argument to happen each and every day and for being such a bloody ineffectual mother who apparently has a real problem keeping firm boundaries in place.

So, not sure this Monday morning was the best start to a week.  It would have been quite tempting to make myself a cup of tea and crawl back under the duvet, put Son No 3 in front of his favourite film and pretend I didn’t have, as usual, an incredibly long list of things to be getting on with, not to mention putting our home back together post weekend chaos.

One of those things is finishing off the last of my assignments for the course I’ve been doing which in retrospect has been an incredibly useful and important journey all about exploring how I might use photography. I’m always surprised when people question my motivation for doing the course in the first place. I think some of it is because people don’t quite understand the course is not about learning how to use a camera; I did such a course a while ago and very useful it was too. The point of this course for me has been about broadening my expectations and certainly by the end of it I can look back and see that the projects I did would never have entered my mind had I not had the support of structured, organised learning.

For the final project we had to create a series of photographs that together form a clear narrative. I thought this was a great opportunity to connect some of the commercial and artistic ideas I’ve been having. So, this week I am posting some of the photographs I will be using in the final project, which record my own family on holiday in Italy. I am putting together an album and when it’s ready I will be posting that here too. These images here are a little ‘trailer’.   And in time I will offer something similar to clients. In the meantime I am looking for two families who would be interested in having me tag along with them for a weekend or two and recording day to day life, maybe including an event or trip out as well as just existing at home. I’m happy to negotiate the charge for these first two experimental projects so if this is something that interests you please get in touch, and we’ll take it from there.

Perhaps your children will scream and shout like mine did this morning, and perhaps you will too, just like I did this morning. I’d like to record these moments as well as the less stressful, happier moments we traditionally like to photograph. I’d like to record your family as it is. When I look at the photos I took of my own family I can imagine how grateful I will be to have them later when we’ve changed and grown and life has taken us on journeys that will have transformed us all one way or another.

A photographer I follow on Twitter recently said one the most profound things you can do is pass your photos on to your family for future generations and I think there is something very important there.  Photography is an amazing language and one which we all speak nowadays; it’s capacity for storytelling is immense so creating an album that captures your family as it is now might be a wonderful way to give your children and future generations something truly precious and important.

I end this week thinking about my delightful son telling me I was so awful as he left the house this morning. Regular readers will know Son No 1 can also be clever, mature, understanding and incredibly wonderful too. For me the biggest conundrum and challenge of being a mum is accepting our children as real human beings and ourselves too; all the good stuff but also all the less than good stuff that we humans all have.  I’d like to develop a photography package that aims to capture all of those aspects of ourselves in images and then put them together in an album really worth keeping.

There…Monday morning is already better because I’ve achieved the first few things on my list including writing this blog, and I’m sure Son No 1 will be in better mood too when he gets home later. Either way, I’ll love him and accept him because he’s my little boy and that’s what it’s all about.  Although I will of course have strong words that are indicative of clearly defined boundaries as I do my best to do an impression of an effective and in control mother who knows exactly what she’s doing.  Have a great week!

If you are interested in having a photography album made of your family please get in touch with me at photo@sarahjanefield.co.uk or call me on 07581694934

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South London Photographer: Some precious family portraits and a special offer

Son No 1 is learning about how the world works and doing a bit of shopping.  He also likes looking at photographs and finding out about his relatives – more below.   Image (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2014

I am a bit slow when it comes to understanding things properly. Blame it on the three pregnancies and years of baby-rearing, or the smart phone addiction, now scientifically proven to be making us all a lot less smart than we once were, or perhaps I was just born that way.

Despite the fact that taking family portraits has been part of my job for the last 15 months or so, I don’t think I fully grasped just why such photographs might be so very important to people until recently. Maybe I’m beginning to comprehend the value of photography because I’ve been studying and thinking about it rather a lot. Perhaps the afternoon that Son No 3 and my mother spent some time looking at old family photographs did it for me. Or the fact I am able to show my sons pictures of my late father, who at the end of his life was a rather lonely old man whose only exercise was to limp awkwardly from his flat in the centre of Bournemouth to the bookies round the corner and back again; mumbling to himself and clutching his betting slips on the way there and usually nothing on his return, or if anything at all, always far too little to make any difference to his life.

This is how I remember my father as that is how he was for the majority of my grown-up life but he wasn’t always quite like that and in fact had a fantastically interesting, albeit difficult, life. It’s great to be able to show the children more positive images of my dad and see them myself too, as well as more recent images.

Son No 3 who never met my father asks questions about my dad all the time, and about other members of our family, as he grows and tries to make sense of where he fits in the world with no living older relatives other than my mother, who is thankfully a very young granny. How she hates that word! And you might be able to see why when you look the photograph of her below in her 20s holding the baby me. Nevertheless she is a good granny and when she and Son No 3 looked through the old albums he recognised family resemblances and was quite convinced that my long dead grandmother was me – although she seems to have been much more elegant than I could ever be.

These old photographs have become really important for my children and perhaps when they are older they will be more so. Nearly all families possess such collections and perhaps they don’t get looked at very often but they become incredibly precious over time, poured over during moments of change or upheaval. Or just now and again when people can find half an hour to tear themselves away from their smart phones and chat through who everyone is or was with an inquisitive two-year-old.

If you’re thinking about having some family portraits done, do get in touch. We can discuss what sort of thing you’re after and make sure you’ve got some great images for relatives to have today or for your kids to look at when they’re older, and for their kids and further generations to do the same in years to come. Share this blog post via WordPress, Facebook or Twitter and receive a 5% discount on family portraits – offer available until 31st April 2015. (Conditions apply. Please see my Terms and Conditions at www.sarahjanefield.co.uk.)

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A very young mum and dad at some posh do where he was the stand-up; described by himself as a short fat Jewish comedian, which is what what he was.
Fam 3 001
A leaping mother holding the baby-me for some article in a Johannesburg newspaper in 1971, about what no-one can quite remember.
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My grandmother, working at a florist called Smee’s in Southsea, dressed beautifully – not at all like the yummy mummy uniform of today.  Little Son No 1 thought it was me!
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My dad in Rickmansworth as a child – he said the circular patterned carpet was one of his earliest memories but perhaps the photograph informed that somehow.

South London Photographer: What’s so great about photographing babies?

Everything!!

I love, love, LOVE taking photographs of newborns. It’s such a precious and fleeting time. When I am around tiny people who are only a few days old I am reminded in quite a visceral way of my own babies’ early moments.

Don’t tell the new mums but you know, they don’t stay tiny newborns for long and the wonder of being vomited, defecated and urinated on regularly does begin to wear thin. It isn’t long before they develop language and learn to tell you that they hate you – it’s devastating when it first happens but by the third child you will have developed a thicker skin, and if you were in a particularly childish mood you might even stick your tongue out and say back to them a little sarcastically  – “I don’t care!!”  They also hold their hands over their ears when you sing and then they scream, “No! Don’t make that noise” (and even start crying – geez, it’s not that bad!); they drop entire boxes of cereal on carpets that were just cleaned by a very lovely, helpful man called Stuart* who had only just finished the job of removing all the grime twenty minutes earlier, and which they were responsible for in the first place; they lose their homework and then blame you – actually, they blame you for every little thing that goes wrong in their lives; they climb on your head when you’re sleeping and demand that you get up at 5.30 in the morning – “but it’s da cwack ‘a dawn!!!” – which is precisely why, you tell them, they should still be sleeping. They scream and cry and bawl for literally no reason at all sometimes.

But they’re sweet occasionally too. Son No. 1 has taken to telling me I’m the best mummy in his whole wide world. Son No. 2 thinks I’m the softest mummy ever – damn, he’s right, no wonder they’re so feral. And this morning son No. 1 decided he would make me a cup of tea and some toast in bed. Aaaah – so sweet. It was all his idea, although it has to be said I was being charged for this treat – £2, and I think he felt a little exploited by that. Unfortunately for me he actually dropped and broke the cup on the kitchen floor, along with half a sliced loaf and a collection of plastic cutlery. Happily, there was no tea in the cup at the time, nor could there ever have been since he didn’t put any water in the kettle prior to boiling it. He still wants paying though because apparently none of that calamity was his fault. I imagine it was mine, sitting in my bed upstairs with no tea but plenty of hope and expectation.

I managed to escape briefly on Friday evening when I went to the Swaffield PTA Quiz night. So much fun! I thought Michael, Quiz Master from our great local, The Old Sergeant, was terrific and he even asked some questions I knew the answers to. Woo hoo!  Thank you very much to the fantastic PTA for a brilliant evening.

The mummy in these pictures has all of this to look forward to. There is so much to learn. One thing I would say to new mums is, if you are reading any kind of parenting book that makes you think the methodology contained within it is the only way, chuck it out with the dirty nappies. In the meantime know that the hormonal storm that’s currently battering your entire being gives way to all sorts of weather; calm, breezy, temperate moments as well as wet, wild torrential periods too.  There are times when you want to literally throw them across the room but there is also joy, laughter and lots of fun. No wonder, I went “Oh! – so that’s what it’s all about…” after my first child was born.

Very cute baby alert so if you’re prone to broodiness you might want to look away now.

*Stuart the carpet cleaner can be reached on 07908 302437 if your carpet and upholstery are as grubby as mine were.  He’s ever so helpful!

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All images ©Sarah-Jane Field