Helen Bartlett is one of the UK's most respected family portrait photographers. Her work uses only natural light with no flash. Helen produces all her work in black and white to create timeless family photos.
We asked her to share some of things she has learnt during her long and prestigious career. Read on and discover how to capture beautiful images of your own family over the festive season and beyond.
"The first step towards taking great photos is to make sure you always have your camera with you. Smartphones take decent photos these days, but a good camera will give you much more control over your images. The other downside to phones is that it's easy to get distracted by emails or work. A DSLR or good compact camera makes you focus on taking pictures. Most cameras also give you higher quality files to work with which is really important if you want to print your pictures. I’d suggest keeping your camera in your bag or on the kitchen counter so it is always nearby when you want it."
"On Christmas Day, it's great to capture the family routine. For example, if everyone opens their stockings in bed, make sure you have a camera at hand to photograph the delight on everyone's faces (or the slight disappointment if they got the wrong gift!). If the weather’s good, go outside, as kids are often at their most natural here. Why not go for a family walk and bring along the new toys? Creating these situations offer great opportunities to capture your family in the most natural way."
"I tend to start my shoots at 8am. Children are best photographed first thing in the morning, when they are well rested and have had a good breakfast. As the day progresses, children will get tired, toys will be fought over and co-operation can go out of the window. So try to do any formal or group shots early in the day. Then the rest of the time you can all relax and get fun natural images without worrying about how to get a toddler to smile for the camera. Work around the children’s schedule for the best chances of good photos. Shoot lots, shoot every day and by the end of the season you can make a book of your family adventures that will be great to look back on."
"Most families will have one person who is always behind the camera; when I grew up it was my dad. Make sure that you swap around so that all family members feature in the photos, as these images will be important to your children as they grow up. To capture a full family portrait, put the camera on a tripod (or place it somewhere steady like a table or a park bench) and use the self-timer setting. For a fun, different perspective, why not hand the camera to your children and get them to take pictures of you? This has the added benefit of getting them interested in photography."
"Gone are the days when a camera was only brought out for special occasions and holidays. Today, we can get a lot more shots of natural activities. Photograph how your family snuggles together on the sofa at the end of a long day. Capture that gleeful look as your children jump into your bed bright and early and ready to play at 5am. Move into the background and use a longer lens or your camera’s zoom function to photograph the children playing so you get really lovely, natural images."