South London Photographer: North London Wedding

…OK, my headline is probably a little misleading, as the wedding itself was actually rather central although hovering on the boundaries of North London.  But the reception was all the way over at RAF Northolt, which for a South Londoner seems like it might be in a whole different city. It was certainly more than worth the trip! The wedding was attended by wonderful friends and family who all made my job fun by being so lovely. And the couple, Emily and James Warrender, are a truly impressive pair. And I’m not being remotely hyperbolic. As I listened to the speeches I was rather overawed by the couple’s accomplishments. I wish Emily and James the very best and hope their marriage is as successful as both their careers. Congratulations!

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(c)SJField 2017

South London Photographer: 2017

This has been by far the busiest year I’ve had since setting up as a photographer. One of the lessons I’ve had to learn and am still learning is how best to manage my time as I navigate parenting, studies, and social as well as commercial photography. It’s a good problem to have though!

I’ve been extremely pleased to carry on working alongside local charitable organisation Just Shelter throughout 2017 and will continue documenting their trips and the situation in Northern France in 2018. Long-  and short-term volunteers I meet are involved in a number of projects devoting their time and energy to a range of causes both here and abroad. At a time when we see so much extraordinary violence both online and in the physical world it is great to be reminded there is also a lot of genuine goodness and kindness out there too.

Workwise, I was pleased to photograph teams in highly recognisable companies, such as Barclays, as well as several other groups in the same sector;  a few up and coming businesses that are doing exceptionally well such as Aurelia Skincare; and lots of self-employed people after professional headshots. I was also very pleased to be made a Preferred Supplier for British Land and am looking forward to working with them again.

I was lucky enough to exhibit my work twice this year. The first time was at The Grosvenor Arms, now sadly closed down. I am grateful to Brendan Conway for his support and encouragement and wish him the best. The second show was Oxford House, Nexus, when I was invited by Keith Greenough to work alongside him and John Umney on a project celebrating Oxford House’s history. Thanks to Honor who I captured for the project and to everyone who supported me.

I continue studying, which keeps me from resting on my laurels. I was very glad to receive over 70% for the academic module I finished earlier this year as it was incredibly challenging. I absolutely loved that course, despite its difficulty – and have moved onto a new module where I continue to be challenged.

And of course, I photographed my children constantly. I’m about to put an album together recording our lives – I’ll certainly have lots and lots to choose from, as always.

Do see my website for details if you’re after photography for work or family, or follow me on Instagram to keep up with my visual sketchbook. And if you live in or visit South London, perhaps I will photograph you during 2018 at one of the community events I usually get along to – you never know! Here is a very small handful of images I took in 2017.

Happy New Year!

All images (c)SJField 2017

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Taken in the Dunkirk Children’s Refugee Centre, but which has since burnt down.
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After the official Dunkirk camp burnt down and the Jungle was demolished, people are living in the woods across France.
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One of my very favourite images of actor and my good friend, Trudi Jackson, from a headshot session.
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Mandy who I have been working with on and off throughout 2017.
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A bridesmaid getting ready – the mirrors in this room made for some super shots.
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I was pleased to photograph the Paradise Summer Fete. This is a terrific community project that does lots and lots of wonderful work.
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I loved the light through the window combined with the dark walls in this home which made for some lovely family shots
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Before photographing Honor for Nexus, I spent time getting to know her and took quite a few photographs of her leaping through the air. She really works incredibly hard.
Some people are just great to photograph – corporate headshots
A lovely bathroom to photograph in for this product
I love capturing the hard work behind the scenes on the set of The Other Side with Valerie Hope
An inspiring new business, Strong to the Core, run by Bazz Moffat who is helping women all over South London and beyond
London based writer Ken Wilson – from a headshot session
At a christening
Too cute!
A special family shoot
As it should be …
One of my favourite landscape shots
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My oldest son can be quite strict about when I’m allowed to photograph him so thanks for this one!
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This lovely person is incredibly interested in photography although he sometimes insists on making some weird horrific faces – thankfully not here.
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Photographed intensely since birth – I’m always grateful to my youngest for his patience.
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Huge thanks to my very supportive mother who looks after my kids while I’m working, studying and just escaping for a few moments with my camera

 

South London Photographer: Shooting people shooting again

A couple of months ago I was very pleased to work for the second time with Farrena Films on their production The Other Side with Valerie Hope, written by Lucy Barrick and Kieren Grant and featuring Sinead Parker and Kate Robbins. I worked with the same production team in 2015 and was thrilled to be asked back to do stills for the scenes shot in London. I know they are currently making their way through post production and I can’t wait to see the finished product. It’s really such a clever script! I was so impressed. They did incredibly well with the last film I worked on, The Lights, so I am sure this one is destined to be just as successful. Here are a handful of behind the scene images from my time on set.

(c)SJField 2017

 

 

South London Photographer: Dunkirk

Writing about the state of education today, Julian Astle*, of the Royal Society of the Arts, expressed himself so eloquently that I start by quoting his words alongside the latest series of images taken during Just Shelter’s recent trip.

“The root causes of the West’s culture wars are many and complex. But chief among them is the fact we live on a dangerously overheating and ever more densely populated planet where conflict and persecution, flooding and drought and vast inequalities of opportunity and wealth have displaced 65 million people and created a migrant population greater than that of Brazil. Amid the backlash to this unprecedented movement of people from poorer to richer nations, liberalism is in full retreat, while nationalism, nativism and protectionism are all on the rise. And with an angry populist politics on the Right feeding off, and feeding, an intolerant and censorious strain of identity politics on the Left, our ability to transcend our hardwired instinct to tribalism — to put our shared humanity before our group loyalties — is once again being severely tested.” (2017) (Bold lettering mine.)

These photographs show the area in Dunkirk which Just Shelter has been visiting to deliver donations for the last few months. They include an image of a man who said he was beaten by the police who, according to reports, regularly tear down and destroy tents, confiscate belongings and attempt to move people on. He is not the first person to show me such injuries. As we drive to the woods after disembarking from the ferry, we pass several groups of people in and around the area. There are an estimated 1000 people living rough in Calais and Dunkirk according to Care4Calais**. Each time I’ve travelled with Just Shelter I have met people who have lived in the area for over a year, several months and some who have only just arrived.

If you are interested in supporting Just Shelter you can find out how here.

*Director of Creative Learning and Development

** 3000 across France See Care4Calais‘s latest appeal

Images (c)SJField 2017

Reference

Astle, J. 2017. The Ideal School Exhibition, https://medium.com/rsa-reports/the-ideal-school-exhibition-74cee1951c75 [Accessed 26th November 2017]

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South London Photographer: Amsterdam

The night before my eldest son and I travelled to Amsterdam for two days he sent me via text message a ‘cease and desist order’. He is 13. I suspect only the abbreviated version needs relaying; henceforth, I should stop taking any photographs of him unless I was prepared to pay him – a lot! At his age he’s a far more aggressive business person than I could ever hope to be, although I have explained in the past that as a photographer it’s quite useful to be able to share personal family images from time to time. As marketeers will tell you, nowadays selling one’s services requires a story of some sort. Excuse me, but surely ever since the day and night that was his 22 hour-long entry into the world, I have paid sufficient in the form of mammary produce and sleep deprivation, not to mention anxiety – fuelled by thoughts of various emotional mines I’m inevitably laying down in preparation for some overzealous therapist to unearth in years to come.

Thankfully, without much or any persuasion from me  – as is his adolescent wont, he seemed to understand that it would have been a shame not to record our travels, and in the end he was quite amenable about image-making. Phew! We had such a nice time, I’d have been quite sad to have only the option of street photography by which to remember our brief adventure.

At 13, I understand that he needs to flex his adolescent muscles, and is very much on the cusp of a whole new era which will be a challenge for everyone at times, most of all him. Already he is taller than me, and the hormones are beginning to run riot as promised by popular tales of teenage angst. To confuse us all, at times he is incredibly grown-up and sensible, which is always reassuring and gratefully witnessed by everyone involved. However, I do like it when out of the blue he does something which reminds us he is just a little boy and still in need of his adult people. I won’t embarrass him by revealing the details, but rest assured, these moments do happen, and I just love them.

I’ve plenty of photography away from my family coming up in the weeks and months ahead, and will be sharing as always. But in the meantime here are a few moments from my recent travels, family and street shots included, published with unreserved thanks to my growing-up little boy.

All images (c)SJField 2017

Images at artists’ space W139 including work by Lydia Balke, Edward Krasiński at the Stedelijk Museum , along with various streets and interiors in Amsterdam.

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South London Photographer: Dunkirk

Yesterday at 6am I set off with Wandsworth based organisation Just Shelter heading for Dunkirk to deliver donations to families living in and around the area. Since the demolition of the Calais camp (the Jungle) last year and the burning of the official Dunkirk camp, there is nowhere for people to be. People are still arriving nevertheless, or being ejected from one country and sent back to another only to be rejected by them too. So, as predicted by charities and media, there are now smaller unofficial camps springing up and life is unimaginably hard for anyone living there. Just Shelter have published a moving and informative account of our time in Dunkirk, which describes very well some of the challenges people face as well as the woefully inadequate provision just about being allowed in.

Here are a selection of images from yesterday. As always I have avoided revealing any individual identities due to potential risks to people escaping terror.

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When we arrive a midday meal has been delivered and people are queuing. This process is often disrupted by police and for a long while until recently could only be done illicitly.
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This is the only way to wash and this contraption has just recently arrived.  Four to 6 people can fit at a time, although there are an estimated 600 people staying here. Sixteen hundred people are believed to be living this way in the Dunkirk area.
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We spoke to a number people who had just arrived here with absolutely nothing to their names. Sleeping bags and blankets are handed out by Care4Calais wherever possible, but there are nowhere near enough tents for everyone, so many people must sleep with no cover at all.
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I took this photograph in a wood where a small group of families were sheltering.
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There is nothing to do here but sit and wait
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The surreal manicured motorway landscape is changed by the people who find themselves trapped here.

After we had been in the camp for a couple of hours we went to the nearby supermarket with two truly amazing young women, who have been supporting people. There we bought some additional provisions with money donated by residents of Wandsworth.

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These women are extremely generous with their time, guiding and supporting us. Read more in the Just Shelter blog.
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Just Shelter volunteers making sure the people we had spoken to in the camp receive what they have asked for.
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Just Shelter funds are used to buy small parcels of treats for children living in the camp.

 

After our visit to the supermarket we return to the camp and hand out parcels as well provide activities for the children.

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There are several families struggling to exist in the area we visit.
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Blankets are laid out above a stream to collect and filter water.
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A man I met wanted me to see where and how he lives. As we walk to his tent he talks of beheadings, his own injuries and lost family members.
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In this section of the woods I am told about police brutality, suspicion of corruption between various authorities, heavy-handed threats from smugglers and again, the loss of family members. Most of the time I get on with my job, but it is more difficult when someone describes how they lost their daughter in a bomb blast, and how he, his wife and their two surviving children nearly suffocated in a lorry.
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Staying connected is critical. So many people I spoke to asked me if I have a charger. There were electric points availabe in the camp that burnt down but here it is only available sometimes and not everyone is able to make use of the generators that arrive.
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At certain times in the day someone (not official) brings electricity. This image was taken on my previous visit.
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I spend time talking to various people and am reminded of the links people have. These mementoes are significant to the person wearing them as they are gifts from family he has left behind.
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Not everyone has tents but those who do are grateful. It rained heavily the night before we visited.
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I am careful to avoid identities.
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Camp fires burn all day keeping people warm and will certainly be needed by evening time. On the day we are visiting, despite being August, we feel the chill later when we wait for our ferry.
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By the time we leave a second meal has been delivered. I am always overawed by the charity that provide these meals. It is run entirely by volunteers and one of the most positive aspects of this ongoing situation.
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As we drive to get our ferry back to the UK I think about all the people we have spoken to during the day. Many, many talked of police dogs attacking them, one man showed me a video of himself being held in a van as he watched the ferry leave Calais port. Another man told me how he was restrained with four belt-like contraptions in the UK and shows me the marks left on his body. His companion tells me how he was hit in the eye by UK border police. Some people have broken limbs and there are sick children. And without fail, each person I spoke to told me about the loss of family members, or their homes, and their desperate desire to live in safety. Every time I drive past this extraordinarily expensive fence near Calais, I think about how the money could have been spent helping people fleeing wars and climate change instead of turning this part of Northern France into a strange prison landscape.

 

All images (c)Sarah-Jane Field 2017

South London Photographer: A flying visit to Paradise Co-Op Fete

Paradise Co-Op held another amazing and fantastically organised fete on Saturday. You may recall I photographed the previous one two years ago. In between doing plenty of other things during a super-busy weekend, I popped by to record some moments for them. I was so glad I did and also pleased to see the rain didn’t stop anyone from enjoying themselves. By the time I left the sun was shining and people were still having a brilliant time. Here are a few shots from my time there. All images (c)SJField 2017

South London Photographer: With Just Shelter in Northern France

Views my own

It’s hard to know how to begin this blog. In the last year so much has happened in and away from the UK, and that moment in 2015 when Alan Kurdi’s body triggered a wave of empathy followed by supportive action in the west seems a long time ago. Today we are bombarded by news telling us the UK is intolerant of non-British born people; the only way we can move forward is in a state of isolation. And that our nation is split between those who want closed borders and those who prefer for them to remain open. I think we should be wary of what our own politicians tell us about who we think we might be.

Last year the well-publicised Calais refugee camp, the Jungle, was razed and just a few months ago the official camp in Dunkirk was burned and destroyed. Yet people have been traveling from all over the world to Northern France in the hope of coming to the UK for more 20 years and despite state sponsored efforts to stop the trend, people continue to arrive. Knowing that I travel to the area with Earlsfield based organisation, Just Shelter, people constantly ask me what is happening over there. Some say, “but what has it got to do with us? Why should it be our responsibility?” There are arguments to suggest it has a great deal to do with us and our imperial history has much to answer for. Nevertheless, human beings are living in fields, right next to motorways and hidden behind shopping centres in Northern France, with virtually nothing. Existing as if in the Middle Ages long before there was anything like a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Simply hoping the issue is going to go away isn’t working. Bombs continue to fall in far away places. Temperatures keep rising making some countries uninhabitable. People continue to drown in the Mediterranean as they flee towards a better life. The figure for drownings just this year is 1,650 people. (June, 2017)

Many do want to help. But this issue is almost off the news radar for now. And so  charities based in France are struggling to find volunteers and funds to feed people. Just Shelter continues to raise awareness and money and you can find out how you can help by visiting their Facebook page.

Here are some of my impressions from my time there as I travelled with Just Shelter last Sunday.

Images (c)SJField 2017

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Just Shelter volunteers are briefed at the beginning of the day by a long term Help Refugees volunteer
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Just Shelter volunteers pack food parcels in a carpark near Dunkirk with volunteers from Help Refugees Children
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An image of a smiling child looks down on volunteers as they help, reminding them of why they are there.
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Adele, a volunteer we met in Calais, and Laura who joined Just Shelter for the day working together in the kitchen
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The authorities are being more exacting and demanding of people and organisations who run the warehouse, but it was good to see some of the improvements and a newly ordered warehouse. They will be well prepared as numbers increase.
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Biscuits were being prepared for an Eid supper when we visited.
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Children are children wherever you go in the world and treats are a welcome distraction.
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People cooking are all wearing what you’d expect them to when preparing food in the warehouse.
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Chichu was volunteering for a week and we met him on his very first day. He was pleased to be there.
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Elle from Help Refugees Children and Vanessa who heads up Just Shelter putting together children’s lunch packs. Many refugees arrive in France with hardly anything and money is scarce.

The rest of the images are taken in an odd no-man’s land just off a motorway slip road where a number of people, including children, are living; some in tents, some without any cover. It is one of several spots in Calais where people can be found living without any of the most basic requirements most of us take for granted. One of Just Shelter’s partners, Help Refugees Children took arts and crafts for the children but adults also enjoyed some of the activities. Ways to alleviate endless boredom is always welcome.

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Reference:

Townsend, M 2017. Mediterranean death rate doubles as migrant crossings fall. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/03/mediterranean-refugees-migrants-deaths (Accessed 28/06/2017)

South London Photographer: Working with inspiring companies

A few weeks ago I returned to Aurelia Skincare, having worked with them in 2015 when I photographed their inspiring founder and CEO, Claire Vero. This time we were capturing their new product Little Aurelia which you can read about in Smallish Magazine, a publication aimed at parents. The article tells you how the new product came about and includes some lovely images of Claire and her son, and you can also see more on Little Aurelia’s webpage and social media streams. I have to say the product looks, smells and feels absolutely lovely and it was a pleasure to work with the Aurelia team again.

Here are a few of my favourites. If you have a company and need photography, do get in touch for examples of other product-promotion, and lifestyle/editorial images.

Images (c)SJField 2017

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South London Photographer: At the foot of a mountain in Italy

It’s taking me a little while to get my head back into every day life. Sitting in the spring sunshine reading books while the kids went completely feral was much needed and I made the most of it, but I think I might have fried some cells just beneath my skull. Ever since we returned my brain has felt like sludge which is not ideal when you’re trying to do things where you actually need a fully functioning head.

It wasn’t all play and no work. I had taken more camera equipment than I usually do when I visit my mother in Italy especially so I could experiment with how I photograph my family. I guess I also needed to work out if wandering round with heavier gear in my bag or over my shoulder felt acceptable. I’ve always used a relatively small albeit very decent camera on holiday, most likely because I was carrying quite enough to be getting on with when the boys were very young, such as extra nappies and the rest of it. Plus I remember having an SLR over my shoulder, bending down to help a child and whacking him in the bonce with it, which wasn’t ideal, obviously. It was my child I hasten to add, not a client’s. But lately I’ve sort of gone off my little camera. I must state now, this is not a product review. I don’t do those and if I did I’d have to give the camera I’m referring to an excellent review. It’s takes terrific pictures. And ultimately you have the equipment you have – the whole constant sell, sell, sell we live with is trying, so I’m not on about specific brands here.

Nevertheless, I’ve begun to feel limited by the camera I have used for a while when I’m with the boys as I wasn’t always getting the images I was after. Frustrating! So a couple of months ago I started using the camera I use for work, a full frame SLR, more and more when I was out with the family. I immediately felt happier with it and have since been taking that camera out fairly frequently for personal images.  But one of the good thing with my smaller camera is that it has a fixed prime lens. Which may sound annoying, but actually it stops you from needing or wanting to take out extra lenses, and if you have to get closer or move further away, then you’re forced to do exactly that… shift your position. Which I like. In fact, whenever I work for myself on long term projects rather than for a client with the main ‘work’ camera, I prefer a lens that doesn’t zoom. That way, you get to know your frame which can be a really beneficial, especially when you’re working on a series of images and you’re after a cohesive feel for the whole set. I do, of course, have a choice of lenses to choose from when working commercially, and so I took a choice with me on holiday this time. Yup, definitely due to the fact there are no longer nappies and buggies to think about, extra camera equipment seems more doable and less like an intolerable and terrible nuisance. So with all my clobber, I experimented each day and tried to work out which scenario I prefer when with the boys going forward. I can’t say I have any definitive answers and, despite what I just said, I did really like using the ridiculously long zoom lens that is heavy as Hades, even though there is absolutely no way you can be shy about the fact you’re taking photographs in public when you’re pointing it at someone.

Before I went away I was convinced I’d get rid of my small camera soon and put the funds towards a new lens which I’ve wanted for years. But looking through my pictures I’m not sure now. I probably should and probably will but I’m terrible at making decisions. I know I will stick with using the SLR more and more when I’m out and about though. And aren’t I lucky to have a choice at all!

I have said a little about each camera I used for the images below. It is not a cohesive set. In fact it’s not a set at all but each has elements worth comparing. (c)SJField 2017

PS-  You can check out an earlier blog where I shared some images from Italy at Easter in 2015 here. The weather was very different that time as you can see. These are taken with the little camera and it makes me think, oh no, I’ll need a wider prime lens to replace it if I sold … best keep hold of it, heh?

1) The first couple were with the camera I have used for a few years when out and about with my family. It’s small and light with a fixed lens so hangs over my shoulders without getting in the way. It takes good pictures but is slower than it might be to find focus in low light. I’ve always really enjoyed the fact I can just grab it and go.

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2) Taken with my SLR on a 50mm lens which is probably my favourite to use. I suspect I get overexcited by the very low apertures but it’s great for me because it’s light and easy to carry round. I am also pleased to have used this in Calais and Dunkirk as it is less of a huge in-your-face object.

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3. Finally, taken with a zoom which means you can be quite far away when taking the images if necessary. This lens is actually really great with kids. I love using it but it’s heavy and not always practical if you don’t really feel like standing out. Also the size and weight make a tripod worth considering which isn’t always desirable when chasing children round and trying to capture moments rather than setting up posed images  – and so means you have to develop a very steady hand.

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