A Quick Portrait in Royston by Gareth Jones

Sometimes spending just a little time (15 minutes or so) is all you need to capture portraits of your little ones.  Their attention span is not very long and so you have to be quick.  But to be honest it really doesn't need to take long at all.  If you have your camera to hand, you can always find an interesting backdrop close by.  By using a wide aperture (small number) you can throw the foreground and background out of focus to bring the attention to the subject and making the surroundings soft and subtle.

Whilst out on a run in Royston (one of those rare occasions), I turned down road I hadn't been before.  As I jogged along I noticed the different walls and textures of the old Royston buildings and I knew I wanted to come back and take some portraits.  One Facebook request later, I met a local volunteer and her mother early on a light Saturday morning for a very quick portrait session.  This gave me opportunity to test out my new 50mm prime lens and to create some really nice images for the portfolio.  

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Tiny Tiny Little Harry... by Gareth Jones

A few weekends ago I did a newborn photography session with the smallest of guys, little Harry.  Normally I like to photograph newborns within their new home environment, showing off the surroundings they now find themselves in along with their proud parents and sometimes siblings.  But this time I (and Harry's mum) wanted to try a traditional newborn photography setup with Harry swaddled and asleep.  At 10 days old we thought Harry would be an expert at sleeping, but turned out he had other ideas.  

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Using my portable studio set up I was able to carry on setting up in the living room of their Shepreth home whilst Harry's mum worked her magic at getting him to sleep.  And after a lot of cuddles and 5 courses of milk Harry was out of it.  Time was of the essence so we moved fast.  Placing Harry on the now set up faux fur blanket on top of the sofa cushions I rattled off around 20 shots before Harry woke up.  

Shepreth Cambridgeshire newborn photography session
Shepreth Cambridgeshire newborn photography session

You know what they say about working with children and animals...but Harry was great and gave us just enough time to capture some beautiful images which I am super pleased with.  When it comes to newborn photography the baby is boss.  It is all about working around their sleep patterns and mood in order to maximise the time.  To be honest even if your little one is not a big sleeper or doesn't like to stay still for long, that's what you want to capture; them being them.   

If you're interested in a newborn photography session or any family photography just get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.

 

The Great Easter Egg Hunt by Gareth Jones

These days there are so many opportunities to capture great moments with you camera, especially if you have little ones around.  Think of all the birthday parties and groups they attend with friends and family.  These are the perfect situations for natural candid family photography and for you to practise you camera skills.  Try prioritising your aperture, setting it to a wide f-stop (low number e.g. f2.8) in order to blur the background.  This singles out the subject and gives your image a focal point. 

Last weekend we attended an Easter egg Hunt hosted by our NCT group.  The premise was simple; the kids run around looking for eggs and treats in the garden, the adults then eat the said eggs and treats (well most of them anyway).  The chocolate was the perfect tool to distract the kids enough for me to grab some portraits.  The real test came at the end trying to get a group shot (herding cats comes to mind).

Altogether it was fun afternoon and one we can look back on in years to come.  Don't let the moments pass you by, take your camera with you and snap, snap, snap.

Ten minutes is all you need, grab your camera and get outside by Gareth Jones

I took Ivy into the garden the other day to let her have a run around.  She loves to explore the bushes, plants and unfortunately the wheelie bins, so I grabbed the camera and snapped away. Turns out she's learnt to say cheese when I point it towards her (more like "cheeee") which is great as she now occasionally stops and looks right into the lens.

In the past I've talked about how you can take great photos of your kids with just your phone (here).  But if you've got a digital camera floating around the house then dust it off and get outside and use it.  It only takes ten minutes to capture some great portraits of your kids doing what they do best, being kids.  

My point is it only took ten minutes to grab a handful of portraits of her on that day.  Take ten minutes every month or week and after a while you'll have a great collection of ordinary moments on ordinary days spent with the extraordinary little people in your lives.

(Sometimes DSLRs can seem a bit daunting and you might find yourself stuck on auto scared of what the other options mean.  I will be exploring the idea of offering informal tutoring to people with little or no knowledge of how to use a camera who simply want to take better photographs of their families.  I'll keep you posted) 

And after ten minutes, Ivy simply could not take anymore.

New Baby Charlotte by Gareth Jones

Recently I photographed baby Charlotte at home with her very proud Mum & Dad.  I like to photograph newborns within their home as I want the photography to remind you of a time and place rather than a staged event.  Don't get me wrong, I love studio photography and creative lighting but sometimes simple is better.

New Studio Light to test......Cue Ivy by Gareth Jones

I love buying kit.  It's one of my weaknesses.  Recently I got my hands on a new Elinchrom Dlite and needed as subject to test it on.  Ivy has come a long way in her modelling career.  Her attention span has rocketed from 5 seconds to around 8 or 9 seconds.  Plenty of time to snap some portraits of her looking cute.  I also wanted to try out my new 95cm Octabox (an octagon shaped soft box) which when shot from the centre gives a nice soft(ish) light source.  Perfect for funny faces and giggles.

After 5 minutes she'd had enough and decided to show us in the only way she knows how...

 

 

 

"Let them eat cake" by Gareth Jones

When your little one hits the grand old age of 1 often we like to celebrate with an old fashioned party or family gathering.  Nice good clean fun for all those invited.  These days there is a new tradition which seems to be bedding itself in - the 'Cake Smash'.

When Ivy turned one we decided to have a go.  And so Lauren (my wife) baked two cakes, one to be eaten sensibly washed down with a cuppa; the other was to be attacked from all angles by Ivy. Being slightly neurotic parents we took precautions and stripped her off and moved into the garden; luckily it was a warm sunny day.  Once strapped into her high chair we presented her with the most chocolatey cake in memory.  As family stared in anticipation Ivy seemed slightly bemused but after a few minutes she dived right in.

Moments like these are so much fun and perfect for capturing with photography.  Often I am asked if I photograph parties, smash cakes and other events.  Simply put if people are there, then I will photograph it.

If you've got an upcoming event in Royston or the surrounding counties you want photographing, lets talk....

Remember when digital didn't exist...? by Gareth Jones

Back when I started photography digital didn't exist.  I learnt the basics of photography through the darkroom. All of these were shot on medium format cameras (either a Mamiya RB67 or a Bronica SQa) using Ilford Delta 100 and under exposed at 50 iso to boost the contrast. Once I realised it was people who were my preferred subject, I would find any excuse to photograph them.

From the days of Spot Studio, Shoreditch by Gareth Jones

My first job in photography was as a studio assistant for Spot Studio in East London.  My job was to make the coffee, clean the studio and help the main photographer throughout the day.  But it also came with the chance to make my own work and take prospective subjects out for a shoot in the natural light, thus freeing up the time of the main photographer to work with other clients.  I mainly used an old Canon 10D which struggled at the best of times unless it was the sunniest of days.  However the result were often pleasing, proving that it’s not all about the kit.  This shot is one of my favourites and has survived the portfolio cull I am currently going through.

Emma at the Mill... by Gareth Jones

When it comes to photographing a two year old, ten minutes is all you get.  With Emma it was more like five.  The scattergun approach is needed for such young kids as they don't want to stay still or do what you ask.  The Brailsford Water Mill near Derby was the venue for my Grandfather's 90th Birthday celebration get away with all the family.  I took the opportunity to photograph Emma in the surroundings of the mill and came away with these.

The Blue Staff by Gareth Jones

The trick to a good dog portrait?  Treats.  Bribery is often the best tool when photographing dogs especially when they are as lively as this one.  Between shots I was getting a face full of dog slobber.  Luckily I managed to get my camera out of the way in time and captured these.  My favourites are always the ones where they seem to be thinking...about what I wonder...

Keeping it in the family by Gareth Jones

When I began to focus on portraiture back at university I often found it hard to find people to photograph.  Even though there is no shortage of people (they're everywhere these days), I would always tend to ask my family as it was an easy and quick solution and they would never say no.  

My Grandad has been the subject of my work many times.  He never minds but always says "If you can take a good picture of me you'll be a good photographer".

And so the other day whilst at my parent's for Sunday lunch I asked if I could take another portrait of Grandad as I had all my kit with me from a recent job.  Grandad obliged and sat in the dining room without any fuss.  I had to keep the setup really simple as lunch was nearly ready and I only had my small camera bag.  So with one off camera flash and a 60cm square soft box we made these.

A cold walk in Cambridge by Gareth Jones

Recently I was luck enough to photograph little Hettie in Cambridge.  It was one of the coldest days so we all wrapped up and set off for a walk.  We went to the Lammas Land near to the town centre and even though it was freezing there were so many people out and about.  As I always like to do I kept things simple and relaxed, not asking to much of Hettie other than smile (sometimes).  We wandered around for about an hour, by the time we finished I couldn't feel my fingers.  However it was well worth it as I managed to capture these shots I'm really pleased with.

Little Baby Blake by Gareth Jones

Born on boxing day, little Blake was the subject of my first photography session of 2017.  A nice calm start to the year.  The session was at his home in Church Langley with his very proud Mum and Dad.  The aim was to keep things as natural as possible, I wasn't looking to put a flowerpot on his head or dress him up as an elf.  Blake pretty much sailed through the process like a pro.  It always tends to help when babies are between 7 and 14 days old as they stay pretty much still and sleep most of the time.
Here are a selection of images from that morning.

A Walk In Lindfield by Gareth Jones

A visit to see friends before Christmas gave me the chance to photograph Ada-Emily again.  I think this is now the 4th or 5th time I have used her as a subject, and who could blame me she's so cute.  No flash this time just natural light and a foggy backdrop (and of course lots of leaves to chuck around).  

So as 2016 comes to a close, my plan next year is to continue photographing, continue pushing my art and building my business.  So if you've taken a peek at the blog, looked at the website or commented on a post; thank you.  Merry Christmas and happy 2017!

A new project by Gareth Jones

Something I've been wanting to photograph for a long time are portraits using old style backdrops.  You remember having your school photograph taken sat in front of a tie dyed muslin, making the photos seem completely out of fashion the following year.  Well I kind of love them, and so I have spent the last couple of months looking for this type of backdrop.  Turns out they're really expensive, often hand painted and quite scarce.  I thought about making my own which I've seen done on YouTube using a white muslin, dye and elastic bands; but I could face the wasted effort when it turned out to look like a 70's t-shirt.  Finally I found on Amazon a supplier in China selling vinyl printed photographic backdrops for around £15 and thought it was worth a punt.  However it arrived folded down to the size of a sheet of paper and I was left with a lovely gridded backdrop.  With a bit of trial and error I managed to iron out (melting once or twice) the backdrop and rolled it onto a piece of white plumbers pipe; voila an inexpensive vintage backdrop.

The next step was to see how it looked.  So I grabbed my resident model (Ivy), a single off camera flash with shoot through umbrella and got these initial results.

 

With a Little Help from Peppa Pig by Gareth Jones

At 7 months, Ivy hasn't quite got the hang of sitting still.  So with a lot of cooing, waving and Peppa Pig on the TV, I managed to get a handful of shots I'm really happy with.  Bless her.

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This was taken in the lounge on a sunny day sat on the floor below our large window with a pop up reflector as a backdrop.  Surprising the results you can get with natural light.

Print, Print, Print by Gareth Jones

Did I mention you should print?

I have said it many times before, but a photograph is not a photograph until it is printed.  I honestly believe you get so much more from your images if you print them or frame them.  I am guilty myself of looking through old photos on my phone over and over again, promising to print them one day until it's too late and you sell your phone or they get wiped because you've run out of space.

When I speak to client about their next photo session with me, I am always explaining that I shoot with the idea of printing.  Of course I can supply images on a disc or USB stick, but I always find it a bit of an anticlimax.  Having spent hours on post production, working on the details of the images I want to see them printed.  I want them to feel the paper and see the texture.  And so far I have never had a client say they prefer their family photographs on a small screen to being held in front of them or displayed on their walls.

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A couple of posts back I talked about a recent family session I did over the summer (take a look).  I received their prints back and they looked stunning and now they have a tangible record of that day.

A portrait at the Heath by Gareth Jones

Back again at the Heath in Royston last weekend.  This time we were with good friends who were visiting; and when any guests come to see us in Royston we tend to take them to the Heath.  I like to use these opportunities to grab a quick photo or two.  Ada-Emily is nearly 3 now and has been photographed by me a few times in the past.  It's interesting seeing how much she has grown up since the last time I photographed her (see my portfolio).  Normally my portraits are taken with natural light to keep things simple and soft.  But this time I wanted to try out some off camera flash (kit list below).  Using flash is great, it makes things so versatile.  However I remember trying to learn the basics of flash back at university; trying to get my head around fill in flash, exposures and all that jazz nearly sent me mad.  These days I find it easy (practice n' all that) but find I rarely use it and yet it makes such a big difference, really making the subject pop from the background.  Anyway here's some of the shots, enjoy.

kit:
Nikon D800
Tamron 24-70mm
1x Neewer tt860 flash
Godox X1n trigger and receiver
human light stand (the wife)
Godox pop up softbox

A family at the Heath by Gareth Jones

Back in the summer I had the pleasure of photographing a local family at one of my favourite spots in Royston, Therfield Heath.  The challenge of the day was the heat.  Being one of the hottest days in the summer it was important to find a nice shady spot where the kids could relax and play.  With a picnic in tow, we sat under the tree and captured some great natural images of them being a family.  
I like to keep my sessions stress free and simple.  Children don't often give you the luxury of time, so it is important to work fast and keep things low key.  If you would like to book a family session please get in touch