Documenting the everyday joys of family life
We’ve all seen the awkward family photos – everyone in matching chinos and white shirts, faces contorted into fake smiles. Some people must like it, becuase there’s a lot of it about. Well, I do the opposite of that – natural relaxed photographs taken in a documentary style. No costumes, limited instructions, just you and your children hanging out, being yourselves and me there to photograph it.
Simply put, my aim is that there should be more good family and children’s photographs in the world.
Here’s how I think I can help, in my small way:
It started with my daughter
When I was a kid the family myth was that I could write and my sister was the visual artist. There was some truth to this – I wasn’t much good at drawing and could definitely write – but it made me think I was visually illiterate for way too long. And this despite loving photography in college, and spending lots of time first with my Dad’s old Practica and then an early Canon autofocus SLR (that I still have in my office).
It wasn’t all bad. I’ve spent large chunks of my working life as a words person, writing books and articles, and designing websites. I still write articles for New Mexico Magazine (only now I photograph them as well).
Seven years ago our daughter was born and I picked up a real camera again (after years with a point-and-shoot). I immediately felt at home, and now photography is an important part of my life and my living. So don’t listen to the family myths
What I shoot
As befits someone whose daughter got him taking photographs again, I enjoy family photography immensely, especially shooting in the kid’s real surroundings to capture the child’s real character – not posing them awkwardly in front of a cheesy backdrop with a bunch of lights. That’s not how I think of my daughter, and I’m sure it’s not how you think of your children.
It’s about telling the real story of your family – creating a set of images that is a valuable record of that smile your son had talking about his Lego figures, or the way your daughter played with your mischievous terrier.
My other work is for magazines and organizations, taking a similar documentary style approach. To help improve my craft, I’ve studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice. You can learn more about my work telling stories for organizations and publications here.
Clients and Recognition
The clients I most like working for are parents and grandparents who want some authentic and beautiful images of their little ones being themselves. The images might not have as wide a reach as published photos, but they mean much more to the people that commissioned them. It makes me happy to think of my work becoming treasured possessions in people’s houses, the way my photos of my daughter have become for us.
That said, the more grown-up side of my work is rewarding too, and my editorial photographs have been used by New Mexico Magazine, the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the Santa Fe Reporter, the Albuquerque Journal, the Lensic Performing Arts Center, and Outside In Productions.
I’m originally from England by way of a dozen years in Ireland, and now nearly ten in New Mexico.
My blog – now entering its 5th year and with well over 20 posts and articles – has lots of tips, stories, images and thoughts on my approach to photography in general, and making images of children and families in particular.
It’s a lot of me in one place, but here are some good posts to start with that outline more of what I’m about:
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