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Will your children have any pictures of you?

When your children look back at family photos, will they find any pictures of you with them?  Or are you always the one behind the camera, documenting every birthday, school play, beach trip or holiday?  Maybe you just avoid being in the picture because you hate having photo taken, or you've not reached your goal weight, or you have no make-up on? 

I'm guilty of this.  As a Cambridge photographer, my family always have a professional on hand.  It means I'm always the one behind the camera, rather than appearing in my everyday family photographs... except for the odd selfie or when my husband remembers to get his phone out!

The thing about photographs is that they are never just a quick snapshot.  When we look back on them, they unlock our memories and provide a window on a time long gone.  They keep those times fresh and alive in the mind of the viewer and provide a link to the love and connection we felt with our families at that time.

This Mother's Day, I'm making a promise to my own children - to be in more of my own family photographs.  One day, when I'm not around, I want my kids to look back on their family albums, (digital or not) and see me present and having fun with them!  And to prove it, here's one I took during February half term.

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So Mum's... whether you grab your phone and snap a few selfies with your kids, pass the camera to your husband for once, or hire a professional photographer, lets all try and be more present in our family photographs for the sake of our children.  If you'd like some hint and tips on how to take better family photographs, you can find them here.

Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer working in and around Cambridge, Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

 

 

How to take great family photos at Christmas.

It's that time of year!  We're all making our final preparations and getting together with friends and family to celebrate.  There are so many precious and magical moments during these few weeks that you'll probably want to get the camera out, but how can you make sure you 'capture the moment'?

Here are some of my top tips for taking the hassle out of photographing your family this Christmas season!

1 - It's not just about the big day

Remember to take your camera out and about and make sure the battery is charged!  I often keep mine by my front door at this time of year so I can grab it at the same time as my handbag and coat.  Most smart phones have great cameras too these days so there's no excuse not to capture your Christmas adventures.  Visiting Father Christmas is always fun! In Cambridge, we loved Scotsdales for young children and in Bury St Edmunds, Ikworth House for older ones!

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2 - Crank up your ISO

At this time of year, it's dark... a lot... and so its important to set up your camera to cope with these conditions.  If you have a digital SLR camera, find out how to increase your ISO.  The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive your camera will be to light, meaning it will be able to take better quality photos in darker conditions.  Just watch that it's not too high as this can cause 'grainy' photos.

3. Decorating the tree

Putting up the decorations is always fun and my children get super-excited that Christmas is almost upon us.  This year, I tried some more creative tree-decorating pictures using my fairy lights.  Don't be afraid to try a different perspective to capture the fun.

4 - Christmas light 'bokeh'

Bokeh is 'photographer's speak' for the gorgeous out of focus circles of light you get in the background when you focus on your subject in the foreground of a shot.  Make sure your DSLR is set to aperture priority and choose an F-stop number lower than 4 and set up your short with the Christmas lights behind.  Hey presto!

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5 - Capturing connections and real story-telling moments

What often makes a good photo great is capturing a special moment or real emotion.  Its about taking the shot as it happens rather than stopping the fun and asking everybody to pose.  The trick here is to set your camera up for the light conditions beforehand.  Often using the automatic function or shutter speed or aperture priority modes work well.  And remember, nobody is going to look their best straight out of bed on Christmas morning, but those memories are precious!

6.  Unwrapping presents

Once you set the kids loose on un-wrapping their gifts, its impossible to stop them in the middle of a paper ripping frenzy to pose for a picture.  They're just too excited.  Instead, work out beforehand where you want to be to capture the action so you're ready to click and get that reaction.

7. Include your pets

Pets are well and truly part of the family and we often buy them gifts at Christmas too, so don't forget to include them in your festive photos.

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8 - Brave the cold and head outside

If you're out for a wintery walk on Christmas day (or any other day) then remember to take the camera.  The colours at this time of year are dark - rich chocolates, mossy greens, beiges and greys - so dressing the kids in brighter colours can make photos stand out.  Get down at their level to take your shot and don't worry about making sure everybody is posed perfectly for the shot - laugh and joke along with them to capture those real smiles.

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9 - Lastly, and most importantly, PRINT IT!

Whatever you capture, don't let your photos sit on your computer hard drive gathering dust.  Make sure you print them and make something tangible you can keep for years to come.  I always make my yearly family photobooks in January as there are some fantastic post-Christmas deals available.  Try Photobox, Blurb, or Bob Books January sales.

Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer working in and around Cambridge, Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

 

The perfect Christmas gift for all the family

Now that Halloween and Bonfire night have been and gone, everybody's thoughts are turning to Christmas.  Whether you love it or loath it, you're probably already on the hunt for perfect gifts for all the family.  So I've put together some ideas for photography related gifts that might help.

1 - A family Photography Session

Whether you have the session with your own family before Christmas and give the photographs as gifts, or buy a session gift voucher to surprise a grandparent or spouse, they're guaranteed to LOVE having beautiful portraits to treasure forever!  Find out about my family sessions here.

2 - A multi-aperture Frame

The Little Square Gallery is an amazing way to display a collection of Instagram photographs, holiday snaps or even your children's treasured artwork!  Simply send off your photographs and let them collate and prepare a beautiful collection of square images in one gorgeous frame.

3 - A retro film camera

What's not to love about using a retro instant polaroid camera??  What fun to have your print straight away!  These Fujifilm INSTAX are a best seller and come in some beautiful colours.

4 - A photobook with a difference

A luxury gift for those of us who never get round to making a family album, or don't know where to start... At Last! Creative will compile and produce beautiful albums and stylish coffee table books from all your photographs - whether they are in boxes in your attic or downloaded randomly on your computer!

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5 - Phone Photography

All of us use our smartphones these days for snapping quick pics of the moments we want to remember in our lives.  For those that love a selfie, why not buy a fun 'fish-eye' lens kit to create some funky effects from the The Photography Gift Shop.  

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But if that's not your thing, you could always try a waterproof case so you can take selfies and photos underwater!

Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer working in and around Cambridge, Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

 

 

 

A beautiful Autumn Family Photography Session

I had the most wonderful message from a client yesterday.  It made me realise how important my job can be.  It read like this:

"OMG Louisa - you've rendered us speechless!  The beauty in your photos has brought tears to our eyes. You're such a talented lady and your talent has captured the most incredible images of our family, especially our four-legged members who we don't expect to be around for so much longer."

This was an average Autumn family session.  It took place at the family home.  There were no special outfits or props... just a very relaxed couple of hours hanging out together, with their pets, laughing and joking in the beautiful Autumn sunshine.  But its given this family some beautiful photographs to look back on for years to come and remember this happy time with their precious pets.

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Before any session, I always chat with my clients and find out a bit more about them - what they enjoy, if they have animals they'd like to include, if the photographs are for a special occasion.  We chat about whether to hold a session at home or find a suitable location close by.  I offer advise on how to choose an outfit.  You can see my Pinterest board about choosing clothing for an Autumn photography shoot here.  

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Having children and animals of my own, I'm very used to working with them.  When I arrive at a client's house for their session, they've had to go through dressing children in clothes they perhaps don't want to wear, forcing reluctant fathers to dress up and put on a smile for the family portrait and worrying about their children not 'behaving' well for the camera.  I reassure families that not a single child I photograph wants to sit still and pose perfectly.... but letting children and families play, relax and have fun during a session, like they normally would, creates some real emotions and personalities that show through in the final photographs.

Autumn is a beautiful time of year for outdoor family photography sessions.  The rich warm colours are stunning and with the sun lower in the sky, there is potential to shoot throughout the day.  But no matter the time of year I use the colours and textures of the seasons within my work including the darker earthy winter tones and the lush leafy greens of spring and summer.

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Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer working in and around Cambridge, Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

Print it or loose it...

We celebrated a milestone birthday in our family this weekend.  It was epic. We all took LOADS of pictures and eagerly shared them with each other across various digital platforms, congratulating ourselves on the precious moments we'd captured.

 Mum with her grandchildren this weekend.

Mum with her grandchildren this weekend.

It wasn't until Sunday evening, as I was mindlessly scrolling through social media, that I came across an article that got me really thinking.  You can read it here.  Vinton Cerf, an internet pioneer, and big chief at Google, has warned that its time to start printing out the vast quantities of digital data we produce or risk loosing it forever.  He warns that future generations will struggle to understand our society because technology is progressing so fast, old files will become inaccessible.

I take for granted being able to look through my granny's old photograph albums whilst Mum tells me who all the people are (just like her Mum told her - and I will tell my daughter).  Its exactly why I produce a family photo-book each year too.  And its not just the beautifully posed shots that get put in... its the quick phone snaps too that I want to remember.

Our generation feels that if we digitalise our precious photographs, it will preserve them for ever and we can access them whenever we choose.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  Mr Cert says unless companies like his take further steps, technology will move so fast that out only option will be the information we've printed and precious digital images, documents and records will be lost forever.  Just think about the info you used on a floppy disk a few years ago... how could you access that now?

Most of my clients are keen to have their photographs from our sessions digitally on a USB, and I understand why - its useful to have them all easily accessible on your computer to email to Granny or post on Facebook.  BUT, all my packages contain prints of some kind as I strongly believe we all need to print the photographs we want to preserve.

 All of us at Mum's birthday celebrations

All of us at Mum's birthday celebrations

If, like me, you're keen to put together your own yearly photo-book, I'd recommend trying Photobox, Bob Books or Blurb.

Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer based near Newmarket in Suffolk, covering Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

 

 

 

Autumn Colours

The first signs of Autumn are on their way, and I'm getting excited!  With its rich vibrant hues and warm golden sunshine, Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year for outdoor photography.

Clients often ask what to wear for their sessions and I love advising on colours for Autumn shoots.... warm rich tones such as deep reds, browns, oranges and yellows really add an Autumnal feel, whereas contrasting colours such as blues and purples add a vibrant contrast.  I've created a Pinterest board that you can see here where my clients can get inspiration on what to wear for their Autumn sessions.

As the nights draw in and the weather becomes more changeable, its important to be flexible for Autumn shoots.  I ask clients to bring plenty of layers so that nobody gets cold and we always have a second date in place just in case the weather turns!  I also carry a secret stash of small waterproofs mats so nobody has to sit on wet or muddy grass!

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Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer based near Newmarket in Suffolk, covering Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

"Behind the scenes" - Light beats Location

People often remark about what beautiful locations I use to photograph the children and families I work with.  I've photographed my subjects in some truly stunning homes and gardens which provide a perfect backdrop.... BUT, this post is all about showing you the perfect location is not always necessary.  The right light, however is a MUST.  I want to show you behind the scenes of some of my photographs...  

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This portrait of my daughter was taken on my driveway around 7.30pm.  I stood her on a stepladder so she was standing almost inside the blue flowering shrub.  When taken from the right angle with the sun coming in from behind, and using the correct framing, you can't see the rest of her surroundings.

This family shoot took place on a wet wild day in March.  At one point during the session, it started raining quite heavily.  I asked the family sit together on a small stool inside their woodshed whilst I pulled on my rain gear! I stood outside and was able to get this great shot of them with the dark logs piled high behind them and beautifully front-lit faces.  

This was a styled 'fine art' image I entered for a competition.  It won a bronze bar from The Guild of Photographers!  I knew I wanted a colourful background to emphasise the red book so the pink outbuilding at the model's home was the perfect choice.  The peeling paint, moss and creeping ivy provided the texture I wanted too!

My son often rides his bike around this car park near us when its not being used.  There are old crates, overhead power cables and lots of stinging nettles.  I took this shot of him here one evening around 7.00pm.  He is sitting on the wood you can see in the foreground having a break from his bike, and the sun is setting behind him.

I walk past these beautiful hollyhocks most days with my dog and an idea about a picture came to mind.  One night when the sun was setting and the light was gorgeous, I grabbed my daughter to take this beautiful portrait of her sniffing the pink flowers.

Whilst bluebell woods and poppy fields provide perfect picturesque backdrops, they are certainly not necessary to create beautiful family portraits.  Finding pretty light and working creatively with the location you have can produce stunning results.

Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer based near Newmarket in Suffolk, covering Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

The things I want to remember

Sometimes.... when I've been working loads... the last thing I feel like doing is photographing my own children.  Especially as they tend towards a behaviour called "photographer's child disorder" whereby they've been practised on and photographed so much, they are now incapable of behaving normally in front of my camera!

But today was different.  I took some shots... just for me...

We hung out with great friends and played in the fields.  Despite the workload I have piled up, I remembered how important it is to document the small everyday things I don't want to forget once they're grown up... like playing hide-and-seek in the long grass, and running in the late afternoon sunlight.

While some of these photographs may not go up on my wall, they'll certainly make it into my albums.  Then for years to come I will remember how her hair was wild and unruly and caught the sunlight beautifully, and how he was always smiley with his hands and face grubby from playing outside all day.

Louisa Williams is a child and family portrait photographer based near Newmarket in Suffolk covering Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas.  

The prefect present for Dad this Father's Day

It's Father's Day on Sunday, and my thoughts turned to the times we spend with our Dad's - the important life lessons they teach us, the silly Dad moments, and the love they give us. 

I hope you've planned something special for the father or Grandfather in your life??  If not, don't worry.  There's still time - perhaps I can help you...

Why not book a family photography session?   Any Father or Grandfather would be delighted with a set of beautiful images capturing the most precious moments with his children and family.

My family photography sessions are very relaxed and take place at your home or venue of your choice.  Even the most camera-shy Dad will enjoy spending quality time with his family during the session! 

Gift vouchers are available from £100 and are valid for 12 months, so he can even choose a date that suits him and the rest of the family.  It's the perfect gift for that special Dad in your life this Father's Day.

Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer based near Newmarket in Suffolk, covering Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

 

8 top tips for getting the best photographs of your children

Last week, I was chatting with a friend who'd bought an expensive new DSLR Camera.  She was eager to road-test it, and planned a big day out with her children and husband, full of expectation of the wonderful memories she would capture.  On downloading the images, she was sadly disappointed that the photos were not as beautiful and magical as she'd hoped - despite the fancy new camera!

It's not the first time I've heard this story.  So many Mums ask me how they can take better pictures of their children so I thought I'd share some of my top tips for photographing your own kids.

1. Learn about your camera

First and foremost, get to know your DSLR camera.  Take it off automatic mode and learn about apertures, shutter speeds and ISO.  Its no good buying a top notch camera and expecting it to take better photos - its like buying a better oven and expecting it to cook better meals!  I recommend a book called 'Understanding Exposure' by Brian Peterson.  Its great at explaining all your camera settings in an easily digestible format so you can use them to take the pictures you want.

2. Never say 'cheese'!

Never as your children to 'stand still, look at the camera and say cheese!'  Unless you have model children, this guarantees fake smiles and bored looking kids.  Instead, I always try to engage with my children whilst taking their picture.  Chat with them, joke with them, get them to look at Daddy behind you making funny faces - anything to get the real smile.  

3. Go Low

Get down to their level.  A photo taken at their height is usually much better than one taken from above looking down on them.  Or try capturing them whilst they're busy doing what they enjoy rather than making them stop and stand still for a photo.  Allowing them to carry on doing what they love will also guarantee real smiles!

4. Timing

You wouldn't want to pose for photographs when you're exhausted or feeling unwell and its the same for your kids.  Try to schedule photos after mealtimes and naps to make sure everybody is full of energy and feeling happy.

5. Light

Think about the light in your photo. Is it bright and sunny, is it too dark, is the light dappled over their faces casting shadows and bright patches?  Positioning them in the best light is key.  On a bright sunny day, facing kids towards the sun means they will squint and screw up their faces trying to look at the camera in bright sunlight.  Instead, try and find some open shade so they can easily look at you without squinting.  Turn off the flash when taking pictures inside and try to place them near a window that will light them naturally and give great 'catchlights' (the reflection you can see in people's eyes that makes them look 'alive').

6. Look out behind you

Background is key - think about what's behind the kids and visible in the frame of the image.  Do you really want the sunburnt bald man sitting next to you at the beach in your family photo or a pile of dirty dishes piled up near the sink??

7. What to wear?

If you know you're going to be taking pictures of the children that are important, choose clothes that are quite plain, not too bright and avoid any big patterns, logos or images on t-shirts.  Think about the colours of your surroundings and what colours compliment them.  Here's a link to a Pinterest board I send to potential clients about choosing what to wear for their photoshoot.

8. Quantity leads to quality

Lastly, take as many photos as you can!  Children never stay still for long so if you catch them at the right moment, take as many as you can! Expect to take around 50 shots to get that one great one when you're first starting out... 

Louisa Williams is a family portrait photographer based near Newmarket in Suffolk, covering Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding areas.  You can see more of her current work and enquire about commissions here and can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can always learn more...

I recently had the good fortune to snap up a last minute place on a training course with the brilliant family photographer Nina Mace.  I thought I already knew lots about photographing children and families outdoors but I learnt SO much. 

This is my favourite image from the day.  Although it was taken at around 3.30pm, it looks like dusk when the sun begins to set and the fairy lights come on.  I achieved this with Nina's expert guidance on finding the right light.  It's absolutely CRUCIAL when photographing children and families outdoors.

I'm certainly going to take all the techniques Nina taught me that day and put them into practise during my own client sessions.  In fact, I've already had the opportunity as you can see...

For any photographers interested in training with Nina Mace, you can find out more information here:

A bluebell story.

I live in a tiny village just outside Newmarket and I'm lucky enough to have a bluebell wood right on my doorstep - its a photographer's dream come true! The walk through the fields to get there is also pretty picturesque.  With all the beautiful rural landscape around Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds I'm spoiled for choice when my clients ask where we should go for their shoot.  

This family wanted me to photograph their gorgeous girl in the bluebells, but the weather had been rather chilly and they were worried about her being cold in dresses and socks.  In the end we went ahead anyway, despite the drizzle and chilly wind wrapping her up well in between the shots.  

Her mummy was super organised and brought a selection of adorable dresses, coats, hair bows, wipes (as the cold makes your nose run!) and plenty of snacks.  Despite the drizzle and the blustery winds, we got some beautiful images.

If you're interested in planning a children's or family photoshoot, you can contact me on louisafrenchphotography@gmail.com or see more of my work on https://www.instagram.com/louisafrenchphotography or https://www.facebook.com/louisafrenchphotography 

Boys will be boys.

These cute brothers were such fun to photograph.  Close in age, but such different personalities.

The family were keen to capture some casual images of the boys and include their puppy Lottie, a gorgeous energetic 10-month black Labrador.  Who said never work with children and animals??  Well I love doing both!  

If you're interested in booking a child or family photoshoot, please get in touch on louisafrenchphotography@gmail.com

Why let the weather get in the way?

"I want to wait and book my pictures when the weather is much better" is something I hear a lot.  And I get it... I really do.  When you invest a sizeable amount of money, time and effort into commissioning a family photograph that will hang in your home for years to come, its vital to get it right!

Everybody wants the perfect Summer's day with bright sunshine and clear blue skies.  But lets face facts - we can't control the weather.  And actually,  I would always choose to take portraits on a less than perfect day with plenty of cloud cover and a hefty breeze!

This gorgeous family were bought a session with me as a birthday gift and travelled over two hours for their shoot.  On the day it was dark and cloudy.  It rained on and off and it was terribly windy but there was no alternative to re-arrange.

We sought shelter in the woods when it rained and got some great candid family shots!

I love that the wind blew the girl's hair off their faces...

And soon, we all stopped worrying about how bad the weather was and just got on with having a fun session...

As a natural light photographer, I host the majority of my family shoots in the first few or last few hours of daylight when the sun is low in the sky and gives a softer warmer hue.  If you have very young children, it is worth considering a spring or Autumn shoot as during mid-summer, sessions may start around 7.30pm. 

 

 

 

Get in the picture with your Mum this Mother's Day.

Are you a 'ghost Mum'?  Are you the one in your family always taking the pictures but have very few family photographs with you in them? 

It got me thinking... Mums are always snapping away.  We have hundreds of pictures of our kids - often including our husbands - but why are we never in them?  I know I'm guilty of it!  Sometimes I have no make-up on.  Sometimes I'm still in my PJs. Sometimes I feel bloated and can't bear the thought of how I will look in the picture.  But are these REALLY valid excuses?

I love going through old photos of my own childhood.  Our family holidays, my first day at school, every Christmas - my Mum is in them all.  I wonder how I'd feel if she didn't feature in these old photos because she was worried about how she looked or because Dad never offered to take the camera?  I certainly don't want my children growing up, looking back at our family albums, and wondering why I was never in the picture with them!

So this Mother's Day I'm making myself a promise - to pass my camera to my husband and be in more of the family pictures - despite what I'm wearing or whether I think I look overweight!

Why not treat the special Mum in your life this Mother's Day to a family photo session and a set of beautiful natural photographs she can treasure forever.  Contact me at louisafrenchphotography@gmail.com for session information and availability.