We love a winter walk and are fortunate enough to live close to several open spaces in or very near to South London. Just before sunset this afternoon, we traipsed about Richmond Park and almost ended up being locked in! Worth it though for these images. Incidentally, the yellow gloves were for magnet fishing – it’s a thing, apparently! (c)SJField2019 (click on individual images)
It’s been a busy year and I’ve had lots of super successful moments. My work has been chosen and published in more places than ever before. I was offered a bursary to complete the part-time art degree which I’ve been doing with The Open College of Arts, and I received a 90% grade for the last module I completed. (I hope to complete the degree this year if I can.) I also took part in several exhibitions and met lots of new people. And I finally got around to publishing a new website.
Here are a handful of images that will sum-up 2019 for me. I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings. To celebrate the New Year, I’m currently offering 5% off all shoots completed by the end of January 2020 (T&Cs apply). Get in touch on 07581 694934 or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
But most of all – Happy New Year! x
I was thrilled to be invited back to photograph a family I worked with a couple of years ago. We’d all had such a lovely time before and ended up with a great collection of images. It was no different this weekend, and I hope everyone loves these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. And what an amazing bunch of stylists everyone in this family seems to be – I might need to borrow their terrific style for all my shoots.
Get in touch for information on family shoots and event photography at email@example.com or on 07581694934.
All images (c)SJField2019
Clients always tells me they hope for lovely weather when we have shoots, but don’t completely write off rainy days for photography. The light is generally much nicer and easier to manage than when it’s bright, and cloud cover is a brilliant diffuser. I’m not sure the kids are quite as enthusiastic as me, and perhaps if it had been a bit more stormy this morning they’d have had something to say about being dragged up to Wimbledon Common. Nevertheless, they were content enough to go for a walk in the drizzle, providing hot chocolate and marshmallows were on the agenda, and even let me grab a few snaps of them as I we did. Here are a handful. (That’s my woolly hat, he’s wearing, by the way…)
Despite the weather there are definite signs of spring in the air! And to celebrate I am currently offering a 5% discount off the cost of a family shoot (as specified on my site, valid until the end of April, T&Cs apply.) Get in touch for more information.
Have a great week. SJ x
Images (c)SJField 2017
I spend so much time studying photography, practising as I go about my day and also working for other people as a photographer that I have not made time to create any personal family photo-albums for a few years, which is something I always did in the past. I decided to rectify this and am now eagerly awaiting a book I ordered this morning with just a few pictures covering the months since last December up to this one. It’s a great way to look back and take stock of all the things we’ve done together.
One of the things I feel really strongly about is the way in which we approach photographing families. These are our memories and we have this fantastically wonderful ability to record moments, so when we make the time to print images, our children will be able to look back at objects they can hold and feel in years to come. They might look at these pictures in times of sadness or big changes in their future lives. But so often when I work with young children I spend a good deal of time trying to overcome their desire to say “cheese!” because we are all so conditioned into thinking that’s the appropriate thing to do and the conditioning starts really, really young. I know it’s great to have smiley pictures to remember the happy times, and I love capturing genuine moments of joy, but life is about so much more than “cheese!” And there are much more interesting emotions to capture rather than forced smiles. We want our children to look at these pictures and see that we loved every part of them; the quite moments, the pensive ones, the cross times too. We want them to know we accepted them for who they really were and didn’t make them feel they were only acceptable when wearing weird smiles on their faces. I am also quite careful about what I Photoshop out of photographs. Cleaning up a dirty face might be the thing to do, but equally it may be that keeping in all the grubbiness makes the picture.
The other big problem we have nowadays is choosing which images to include. I take so many pictures it’s impossible to get right but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since studying is ‘less is more’. While editing my photo-album I was pretty ruthless, and not only because I’d have ended up spending a fortune if not, but also because we stop looking when there are too many images together, or too many of the same thing. It’s hard to edit when the pictures are of your children but try to avoid printing everything you’ve captured!
Here is a very small handful of the sort of images I would include in my own album. If any potential clients think this is something I could help you and your family with, do get in touch.
Images (c)SJField 2016
About a week ago I swapped my three boys for three little girls when I headed down to Kent to capture some of the lovely expressions in these images. I had such a laugh with everyone and could have spent a whole weekend with them. I was also treated to a lovely Sunday roast with friends who live in the area, and so by the time I returned home the next day I was really quite eager to see my own three children. “I miss you, mummy!” was the very warm welcome I received from my youngest child. I’m really not sure the others noticed I was gone. Although when they did finally put their heads up and see there was a different adult at the table with them, they told me that my mother respects them more than I do. “Really? Really?” I said sceptically. It struck me they might have been doing the same sort of thing Daisy does in a children’s series of the same name, where she and a babysitter collude with each other over what sort of mischief Daisy manages to get up to while her mother is away. Suits me, though. As long as I don’t know what is actually going on here between the four of them and I do manage to escape occasionally …
Here are just a handful of shots from my afternoon in Kent.
Images (c)SJField 2016
Don’t you hate it when people refer to unexpected babies as mistakes? “Was he a mistake?” they say with pity in their eyes. “No!! He most certainly was not. He was a wonderful surprise that took me a while to get my head around.” I suppose the word ‘mistake’ might be better than a comment I had from a women working at a playgroup I visited. “I had three. All grown now, ” she said sadly, “Wish I hadn’t bothered with the last one. He’s nothing but trouble!” Not an overly sensitive thing to say to a women heavily pregnant with her own third child. And actually, by the time No 3 arrived I was immensely grateful for the opportunity to experience those early precious days with an infant again. I’m not saying it was easy. A friend who also had a 3rd baby at the same time and I still talk about the enormous shock to our systems. Goodness, imagine all those poor women who had 8, 10, or more children in years gone by. I have no idea how they coped.
If you thought it was hard finding time to pee after having your first child, just wait until you try to manage three. Also remembering to feed everyone, walk the dog, pay the bills, and talk to grown-ups too. Prior to having children I had a verdant collection of house plants, a super-organised filing system and regularly hosted dinner parties where I impressed my friends with culinary delights. “Wow, Sarah-Jane! It’s like eating in a posh restaurant!” By the time Son No 3 arrived I had lost the ability to keep even a cactus alive, managed to misplace important court documents and am currently the less-than-proud owner of a cardboard box full of bank statements, randomly chucked in, in no particular order. My cooking skills have been reduced to the level of burnt baked beans and undercooked frozen pies. And I’m not pointing fingers or name shaming or anything, but I’m not sure being dumped by the now ex-husband before baby No. 3 reached his first birthday helped any… that aside, having three kids has proved challenging to say the least, and it was only when I started packing up my flat to move a couple of months ago that I started to appreciate just how immensely chaotic the last few years had been.
As I sorted through our belongings I realised that I must have barely unpacked when we’d moved in there two and half years previously. I seemingly just chucked overflowing boxes and bags in corners and cupboards, only took out what we couldn’t do without, and then did the best I could under the circumstances. Which is I think all any of us can hope for. As I packed up this time round, I began finding things that I had forgotten about, thought I’d lost, or never even realised I’d had. I came across all sorts of objects and items, but mostly what I discovered were shattered and disparate parts of me that had long ago been put aside, shoved away, hidden and misplaced, perhaps because being a mum and a wife made me think there was no room for them. I don’t think I’m unusual in this – it seems to be part of the process, and there are undoubtedly several groups of anthropologists dotted about the place looking at changing roles for modern Western women and how they cope with children, marriage, and work. (Especially interesting when you consider that nowadays so many have never even held a baby by the time their first one arrives.) As I packed up my home, I seemed to be unpacking myself. And guess what? I was pretty pleased to see all those parts of me resurface.
The last few weeks have been a bit strange though, as all the separate parts I recognised try find their way back into my existence. Will I ever have an organised filing system again? I’m not sure; I have been slowly trying to sort out the mess that several years of un-filing amount to, but there is always a floor to mop, a bottom to wipe, or a meal to cook that everyone will grumble about for some reason or other. I’ve been bought a beautiful plant as a moving-in present, and I’m very much hoping to keep it alive for longer than a few weeks. And I’ve invited some friends for dinner soon, who I know will be hoping for a little more than burnt baked beans and a pie that’s still frozen in the middle.
I guess the point is that having a family, navigating life, and just getting from one moment to another isn’t always straightforward. Perhaps it’s not easy to accept that in a world where the general consensus seems to be that we should be aiming to have it all NOW!! And be damn good at every aspect. Perfect parents who never shout, with successful happy children and blossoming careers too. I’m pretty sure that’s not how life works all the time though, despite the plethora of articles in women’s magazine telling us otherwise. So let’s recognise the good stuff, work through the difficult and just be a bit more realistic with ourselves. I’ve had some other really good surprises recently; like when I lost my phone and found it still lying in the gutter half an hour later, where it had presumably fallen out of my pocket as I yanked a sullen, sulky child out of the car so we wouldn’t be late. Or the beautiful foggy morning we had yesterday so that I was able to take photographs in some of my favourite weather conditions. Neither of those of course even come close to the best surprise of recent years, my amazingly cute and funny Son No 3 who celebrated his 4th birthday last week. He’s an absolute pain in the arse sometimes but I am so very glad I bothered. And if anyone refers to him as a mistake again I might be compelled to slap them. Hard!
Image (c)SJField 2016
Last week as I walked away from big boys’ nursery school, having just dropped my youngest son off, No 1 said to me, “So, this is the first time in nearly 12 years you will be free…” I don’t know what to say about the fact that at the tender age of eleven he had decided his presence no longer counts in the mix of small boys I am responsible for, but anyway, I did try to answer at the time without twitching and also maintaining a clear and reasonably calm modulated voice, “YES!!!” Not that I was excited by the prospect of a few hours of daily uninterrupted work time available to me from now on, or anything. Oh no, I’m lying. I was!!
Later that day Son No 3 who had waved me away so cheerily that morning, and with so much confidence and a genuine sense of happy independence, put his head in his hands over supper and moaned, “I haven’t got a life!”
Oh, my god, I thought. One day at school and he has obviously realised that this is it for him; the start of a life long journey, which for many of us is made up of going to school, then possibly university, then work, then retirement followed only by the inevitable end.
I was just about to quote Woody Allen, who’s alter ego Alvy Singer, says in the opening gambit of Annie Hall, “Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering – and it’s all over much too soon” followed by “so stop your wailing small boy and make the most of it!” when I noticed the plastic cutlery he had thrown on the floor ….
…Aaaah, yes, he wasn’t actually having an existential crisis. He simply can’t pronounce the word ‘knife’ properly and was merely expressing his sadness about the fact that he (and no one else, take note) threw his knife on the floor and was really quite annoyed that it hadn’t magically jumped back up on table ready for his grubby little paw to grab hold of.
Phew! I mean I do like a thinker and all, but there is a limit and succumbing to the futility of a modern, Western, materialist-driven existence when you’ve not reached your 4th birthday is under-stepping the mark, surely. I don’t think he can have overstepped it at this stage, but of course I may be wrong. And actually, even if I do say so myself, he looks to have a fantastic life from where I’m sitting, which at that time was not as near as he was to the knife/life he’d discarded, and so I said to him, “Well, pick up the knife you’ve belligerently and churlishly chucked on the floor then. And your problem will be marvellously solved!” He did.
This morning Son No 1 started secondary school and so now I truly do have a great deal more time than I’ve had before to get on with work and studies, and, oh yes, that other murky thing I don’t quite get…domesticity. Yes, time for that too. I have a million things to do though before I begin balling socks and folding clothes; such as editing clients’ baby and wedding photos as well as setting up a blog for my new course, which all come at the top of the list.
Last week I photographed a little boy who was just 5 weeks old. His mummy and daddy look like they’re doing amazingly – They won’t believe how fast it all goes. I remember so very clearly, like most parents, bringing home Son No 1 for the first time and wondering what on god’s earth I was meant to do next. Thankfully, almost twelve years later the two of us are able to muddle through together, which sometimes results in minor scrapes and mishaps, like this morning when he left his brand new school bag on the doorstep at home, as we drove off to the start of his first day. “Oh, crap!” he announced when he realised and we were already half way there.
Here are some of the images from the baby shoot. I love these jobs and I do absolutely adore babies. But having tasted what is now nearly 4 hours of my newfound freedom I am certain that photographing other people’s tiny people is the way forward. My latest baby is my photography and that is just perfect for me.
(c)Sarah-Jane Field 2015
When I was living out my extended adolescence during the 90s and ‘noughties’ I had what you might call an absurd yearning to have been born during a different era. I say absurd because there really is no point yearning for something quite so impossible; surely it would be better/less crazy to utilize one’s time dreaming about something more plausible, like flying to another planet for instance.
I wished with quite a lot of energy that I had been about when it was all flower power, peace, love and being infatuated with Jim Morrison. I had this (thinking about it now) really quite embarrassing Janice Joplin affectation going on. Ridiculous, if only because, even if I had been about then, chances are I would have been working in Boots or something and not sitting about in a field at Woodstock staring at the pretty colours in the sky. Not that there is anything wrong with working at Boots – in fact, I’m sure I went for an interview when I was 17 to do just that (I ended up at Pizza Hut instead though). Nevertheless I have always been somewhat envious of people who lived (and loved) through that time and actually experienced it. But the point is, my fantasy was all about a fairly hedonistic, self-absorbed paradigm which would probably have landed me in a rehabilitating or psychiatric institution at some point. If indeed it had been at all possible to get in a time machine and find myself living during another decade. And also ridiculous, as the reality is that the 70s hippie ideal was a lot more altruistic than my fantasies were.
Dede, whose 70th birthday celebration I photographed last week, told us in a very informal and lovely speech all about how she arrived in London aged 22 from North America with not much more than her guitar, which of course was covered in flowers. Before long she had hooked up with an amazing bunch of people who hailed from all over the world, including South Africa (where I grew up), and formed a band called the Solid British Hat Band. The songs they sung were absolutely NOT about lying around selfishly in a muddy field pretending to be a pixie (I’ve abandoned such notions, now, honest… not to have done so would be quite ludicrous, wouldn’t it?). Instead they were about protecting the world in which we live. In fact Dede and her band mates, one of whom has been her husband for a pretty amazingly long time, sang songs from their albums Mister Monday and Goodbye Rainbow at the party and it was so interesting to hear the very contemporary themes, warning of the damage we humans do to the world and reminding people to take care.
Today Dede continues to care passionately about her world and is standing as a candidate representing the National Health Action Party in her home borough of Fulham, a group which is currently fighting the proposed selling off of Charing Cross Hospital. Fulhamites can vote for Dede on the 22nd March and help send a strong message to the powers that be.
Dede used her 70th to publicise this cause and others and I can only say that she seems like a pretty wonderful woman. I really enjoyed listening to the Solid British Hat Band doing their thing in central London last week and chatting with some of Dede’s friends afterwards.
So, of course, I didn’t grow up in the 60s and certainly wasn’t part of any hippie revolution, and never arrived anywhere with not much more than a guitar covered in flowers. Instead my extended adolescence took place later, but even so I spent my time listening to Bob Dylan and Janice Ian pretending otherwise. For some reason, and always a bit behind the times, I have recently been catching up with my own generation and listening to Radiohead a lot, which is from my era. Son No 1 told me off for having it on too loudly in the car and Son No 2 was appalled by the expletives on the Pablo Honey album.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t listen to this when you’re in the car,” I said.
He greeted my mother with “You’re so f-word special….”
He said f-word and not the ‘f’ word, I’m relieved to say. The fact that he does know it’s out of bounds and stays within that boundary despite my lax attitude with my in-car musical choices is a great source of pride for me with my impressive parenting skills!
“Pardon?” said my mother.
“Mum’s been listening to songs with swear words in!!”
Sometimes you just want loud guitars and mournful Radiohead songs in the car though, don’t you?
At least I’ve long given up my nonsensical, slightly delusional dreams of having been born during a completely different decade, which is undoubtedly a good thing. But if I’m honest, I am still rather struggling to be a proper grown-up even though I very much have my feet on the ground in this era. Of course, I still sometimes hanker after a life as an eternal pixie with flowers in my hair dancing in some muddy field somewhere (Mrs. G, I’m kinda desperate to get in that fantasy camper van with you) – but I’m also aware the reality of that might send me a little bit loopy! You see, not so delusional after all.
Here are some images from Dede’s fantastic wonderful fundraising 70th.
Have a great week! SJ
All images (c)Sarah-Jane Field