Part II: Landscape Speaks + The Travelling Mustard Dress project | Personal Self-portraiture {#P52Radness} | Cambridgeshire Wedding and Family photographer

I mentioned before how I am part of a global community of female photographers (#P52radness) who participate in a weekly self-portrait project. It’s become a project that is dear to my heart, simply because everybody in the group has their own battles in getting themselves in front of the camera and yet is so supportive of others who do get in the frame. It is that kindness and encouragement that helps us overcome our fear and also see past the perception we have of ourselves. Something that I would happily give my female clients if they feel anxious about themselves during their photoshoots. I have also written about some of those feelings and shared the reasons of the importance to be in your own pictures, not just for creating a physical memory for your loved ones but also for yourself, in a blog article here

Last month, the P52radness group had a theme called ‘Let the landscape speak’. The idea of this theme is that the environment or our surroundings take up the centre stage of our images, as opposed to our own portraits dominating the picture. This can be appealing if you find having your pictures taken intimidating, or you just want to have the beauty of the landscape tell the story whilst being in the photo. It's conducive to making an evironmental portrait and helps to set the context of the person in the photo, which I will always try to make a few for my clients using my wide-angle lens. Before I begin a photoshoot, I like to ask each of my clients to pick a location that can be home or outdoors, which are familiar to you and perhaps one of your favourite places to spend time in. We spend most of that time in that location on your photoshoot. By being in familiar surroundings this would put you at ease to be yourself and allow me to capture beautiful pictures that will truly portray you and your personality. 

For my self-portraits below, I wore a yellow summer maxi dress from New Look that a friend of mine got for a travelling dress ('Travelling Mustard') project. I am doing this project along with nearly forty other British and Irish female photographers. Each photographer takes a self-portrait in the same yellow mustard dress. I did a collaboration with a couple of these women recently, which I will share later on or you can see them on the Travelling Mustard blog. My own self-portraits were taken using the technique of freelensing with the help of my husband, who acted as a stand-in tripod when it was a windy day on the beach during our family trip to Old Hunstanton Cliffs.

Black and white portrait of Diana Hagues photographer at Hunstan
Colour portrait of Diana Hagues photographer in yellow dress at
Stepping onto the sand at Hunstanton beach in yellow dress and b
Black and white portrait of Cambridgeshire photographer Diana Ha
Self portrait of Cambridgeshire Photographer Diana Hagues at Hun
Self portrait of Cambridgeshire Photographer Diana Hagues with h
Dancing portrait of Cambridgeshire Photographer Diana Hagues in
British Travelling dress project - artist Diana Hagues in yellow
Toes on the beach next to a razor shell
Travelling mustard dress - Self portraiture - photographer Diana

Part I: Family beach photos at Old Hunstanton cliffs | Free 52 project {June} personal work | Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Family photographer

It was my oldest son’s birthday a few weeks ago and, every year without fail, we go to the beach around this time to celebrate his birthday. I even had my maternity beach photoshoot at Wells-next-the-Sea, when I was seven months pregnant with him. So, the Norfolk coast has a special place in our hearts and where we have many fond family memories being on the beach.

With it’s beautiful coastline and long stretches of sandy beaches, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing which beach to go to in north and west Norfolk. The dog-friendly beaches also makes it convenient for us to bring our Scottie dog, Barney, onto the beach all year round. We decided to go to Old Hunstanton as we had hoped it would be quieter than being by the seaside promenade at Hunstanton beach. The beach at Old Hunstanton was not quite deserted as we had thought it would be, even though it was a weekday when we went because of a school inset day. Nevertheless, we got to spend several hours on the beach, playing in the sea, climbing the rocks around Hunstanton chalk cliffs, kite-flying and even finding a jellyfish too.

It was a very good day and we had made a ton of memories by the end of our trip, as well as taken hundreds of pictures to remember this day. 

My big camera was at the Nikon service centre having some repair, so I only had my D3300 that I normally use for freelensing to capture some family photographs on the beach. With the exception of a small handful of images at the end here, the rest were taken by freelensing with the lens held close but detached from the camera body. I have had friends advise me not to do this as there is a danger that grains of sand can get inside and damage the camera, especially if it was windy on the beach too (which it was!). I have been freelensing for over a year now, so I can be adept at getting my shot and quickly putting my lens back onto the camera when I want to steal a quick photo. Although it is by no means foolproof, so only attempt this at your own risk! The results, however, are worth it in my opinion and I was very happy to have made some beautiful beach photos with a dreamy blur effect that you get in freelensing.

I have a few more freelensed pictures from our beach trip to share, but I will save those for another post. Here are the images for the first part to our family beach photo session. When you have finished, go next to my talented friend Lauren Jensen's post to see her freelensing images in the month of June.

Is family photography a bit like a ‘Pick n Mix’? | Cambridge family photos | Cambridgeshire family documentary photographer Diana Hagues Photography

Photographs have a way to bring you back to a moment in time; to an experience you had that has now become a distant memory. It’s that sense of nostalgia that feels almost like you have just walked into an old sweet shop and are being greeted by a familiar friend. Maybe there are one or two sweets in the jars that are your favourites; maybe some you tasted that are not so good. Whatever it is, photographs are like those jars sitting behind the counter, waiting for you to pick and tuck into them, so it could instantly remind you of those warm, fuzzy feelings you had from when you were a child or from your past experience.

Copy of sweet shop family photo memories
Copy of Brothers in a sweet shop childhood photo memories

If this picture leaves you craving to pick up a bag of sweets, then go ahead and give permission to yourself to travel back down memory lane and relive those moments. At the same time, you can read on about what makes family photography similar to getting your own ‘Pick n Mix’ and how I can guide you with choosing a family photographer without giving you a toothache afterwards (excuse the pun).

Choosing the right family photographer for you

Family photography is a bit like walking into a sweet shop. There are different photography styles to choose and, if you search online, you will find a vast array of photographers that could provide photography for newborn photoshoots, baby bump or maternity photography, as well as family photo sessions. 

So, how do you choose a family photographer that is right for you?

When it comes to family photography, there are three styles that family photographers generally specialise in. They vary from the traditional or fine art posed portraits, either in studio or non-studio, to the storytelling imagery of lifestyle or documentary photography.  

To explain, let’s go back to the sweet shop analogy. 

THREE STYLES OF FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY

Portraiture or Portrait family photography (“Rock”) 

This is a classic and traditional style of photography where typically your family portrait photo shoot is controlled by the photographer from decisions made on how everyone is posing, the lighting and also the backdrop or location of the shoot if outside of a studio. Families would have an expectation of knowing what resulting images they would get from their shoot. It’s the equivalent of what I like to think of as heading to a seaside resort and buying a traditional rock from one of the beachfront shops. There is a regularity and standard set of flavours and colours with only marked differences in the lettering to the place of its origin. 

Copy of Child portrait in natural light home studio
Copy of spring children portrait blue flowers

Lifestyle Family Photography (“Toffee”)

Lifestyle photography is a more relaxed style of photography that is the next step from the traditional posed portraits. It’s like toffee confectionery or chocolate eclair with a hard exterior and a soft or chewy centre in the middle. Lifestyle family photo shoots capture the candid moments of a family, the ‘soft’ feel in family connections, but it still has a ‘hard' element of direction by the photographer. For example, the lifestyle photographer could give suggestions for planning your outfits. They may make changes to the scene, either during the shoot or in post-processing, to create a cleaner image. They could guide you into positions that either captures moments of interactions between you and your family, while perhaps being in an area of beautiful light or select a time of day for your photographs.  

Copy of Sisters playing with wooden toy bus in home.
Copy of parents with baby standing by the lake photo

Documentary Family Photography (“Sherbets”)   

Documentary family photography — the sherbets, gobstoppers or jelly beans of the photography equivalent to a sweet shop. The unposed and relaxed style of family photography, where the beauty is in the unexpected and captures families being completely natural and spontaneous. 

Copy of mum wiping sons mouth in family hallway

Documentary family photoshoots are entirely dictated by the dynamics within the family themselves. The only interaction that the documentary photographer has during such sessions are discussing with you in your pre-shoot consultation what your family likes, your children’s personalities, things you like to do together and where. This interaction is carried through into your session, where the photographer captures you in or around your home, or in places that you like to frequent. The skills of a documentary photographer are in the power of observation; waiting for a moment to unfold, and using light and composition to tell the story of your family that is neither directed nor altered. Because real life is beautiful and you are enough. 

Copy of Family sitting down to a meal

In essence, documentary family photography captures more fully the honest and authentic representation of your family life, including the raw and real emotions. It preserves real, meaningful moments and memories that will tell your family’s story long after they have been forgotten.

Book your professional family photographer

I know that choosing a family photographer that is the best fit for your family is a lot more complicated than buying a bag of sweets from the shops. Knowing your budget and location are important deciding factors, but so is the photography experience and what you like to get from your photographs. Both of those is influenced by the style of photography and photographer you choose. 

Ultimately, you want to invest in a photographer that speaks to your heart and fulfils your purpose of getting professional family photos that could best reflect your family. Just like eating your favourite sweets, your photographs should connect you to a special moment in time and bring you joy for a lifetime.   

Diana Hagues Photography is a storytelling and documentary family photographer who specialises in photographing families, small children, newborn and couples. She offers short lifestyle-documentary sessions along with half-day and full-day day-in-the-life family documentary sessions. Find out more details here and to book email Diana hello@dianahaguesphotography.co.uk