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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A swearing (feral?) toddler, language and discovering other mothers who are OK with being real – South London Photographer

One of the things I enjoy about becoming a photographer is looking out for work by others that I find interesting, effective, beautiful or thought-provoking.  There are so many different uses of and for photography, comparing one with another is often a pointless exercise.  As I study as well as work as a photographer, my understanding of what is possible for me is changing and developing all the time.  Do I want to  concentrate on observational photography or creating my own images that might communicate something to someone? Studying introduces to me to a wide variety of styles and photographic languages and it’s good to have begun appreciating just how much there is out there.

I know photographing families commercially, as I do, gives immense joy and pleasure to parents when they see the images of their children and families.  The funny little scribbles I do on my phone and post to Flickr are like a kind of instant art, colouring-ins that give me immense pleasure and joy as I create them but are ultimately somewhat ephemeral.  I’m still trying to work out how I can use photography to express myself and even what it is I want to express although the college work seems be informing that in some ways.  (I don’t mind saying I was really rather chuffed to be referred to as an ‘artist, thinker and photographer’ by my tutor in my latest feedback!)   I recently stumbled across a highly effective short online film made by photographer, Dana Spaeth, who has put a collection of photographs together to voice her concern about gun violence in the States. It’s a powerful film and the message is stark and alarming – share it, American friends; it is useful for me to see photography being used in this way.

I stumbled across the film on Twitter where it had been shared by a site called Scary Mommy. I’ve not looked at the site fully but my initial reaction was, ‘great, a site that promotes the reality of being a parent’.  There are so many messages out there about being impossibly perfect that it’s somewhat refreshing to come across something that promotes a more truthful message.  My youngest child is at that amazing age where new language just tumbles out of his mouth every day.  As we listen to his developing syntax we are all constantly going ‘cute!!” It’s slightly disconcerting however that he is under the impression when we’re in the car that all people outside the car are called ‘bucking nankers’.  To be fair to me I only tend to use the term ‘bucking nankers’ about motorbike riders who nearly crash into my new car (crazy fools because it’s most likely them that would have come off worse; the bonnet of my car could be fixed or replaced whereas their necks are more tricky to deal with) or suicidal pedestrians who step out in front of my moving vehicle.  Oh, and the occasional ‘bucking’ aggressive driver who thinks he/she owns the ‘bucking’ road!  Still, I probably need to temper my in-car road-rage when the 2 year old is with me.

Here are a couple of photos of my own kids for this week’s blog.  They’re not at all like the commercial family stuff I do but I love the reality about them.  I discussed whether or not to post the second one of my oldest son with him, and he said he liked the styling so I could go ahead – he was having a bad moment, just as any 10 year old boy (well all of us really) does from time to time.  This is the reality of childhood and family life and I do find it quite satisfying to record.  The first image is of my middle son teaching my youngest who has just moved out of nappies how to have a pee when there isn’t a loo around. “Thanks, dude,” said the baby!

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Trying to get to grips with all this self promotion stuff…

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Today I am photographing some children for a surprise gift.  I won’t be able to post the images here for a while because even though the likelihood of the recipient stumbling across this blog is probably rather slim – you just never know!

 

However, I have been thinking a lot about all this online self-promotion stuff, Twitter, blogs, Facebook and the like and I think I’ve really got to start getting to grips with it a bit more.  A fellow art student recently commented that it was very time consuming and I guess it is but it seems an integral part of any photography venture if you want to get your work out there for any reason, so rather than see it as a distraction I think it helps to view it as crucial.  So with that in mind I am going to aim to post a bit more often and also go for a rounded approach – i.e. not just posting examples of work but also personal photos, thoughts about my learning process and decisions and updates on the my development.

 

Last night I felt compelled to sign up for the advanced wedding module with The Photography Institute.  I have one, possibly 2 weddings coming up – something I never really thought I’d end up doing at all to be honest.  But it seems like one of the hardest type of photography to get right so I felt the additional cost and work would be justified.  I did the main course with the institute last year before signing up with The Open College of the Arts in January to study The Art of Photography.  I can’t guarantee all this studying will make me a better photographer, although I sincerely hope it does (and think it has already done so!) but it certainly demonstrates a level of commitment on my part to be as good as I possibly can.

 

The photo at the top here is of my youngest son.  Again, I’ve decided to leave his face as it was rather than wipe away the dirt in Photoshop.  For me this will be a genuine memory of how he was when I look back in years to come. I love the lighting and mood in this photo – it really captures his soft and tender side.