Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I really love photography in the winter. Sometimes, there are moments when the light is dreamy and soft (the likes of which you’d need to get up at 4am to see in the Summer) and sometimes you get a lovely frost or fog – natures finest filters. But let’s face it when that sometimes doesn’t happen the landscape is is dominated by mud and green, green grass. That green which I try so hard to avoid in my pictures! A heavy, oppressive, saturated green. Give me sun kissed summer grass, or fresh spring leaves any day, but the colour of winter grass I go to great lengths to avoid.
This means the outdoor photo opportunities are few and far between, and especially ones with my kids. Oscar is at school, and Max is at the childminder’s three days a week. There has been little time to go gallivanting. However, scrolling back through my Instagram they are always dotted through my gallery, all throughout last winter and indeed through the Autumn and early part of this Winter. Yet they have just all but vanished in 2016 and this makes me really sad. The damp and miserable winter we’ve had is one factor, the lack of time is another, but I have definitely made less effort than I used to to create photo opportunities with them both. I’m not really sure why to be honest, maybe the low likes on pictures of my children has finally got to me. Faces are rarely well received on Instagram, people tend to favour still lifes.
Half term came and went, and still no photo opportunities. My husband is working away for three weeks, so the kids and I spent a lovely few days with my parents. However everyone was full of cold and there was certainly no opportunities to take the kids anywhere particularly photogenic. When we came home I decided I needed badly to fulfil this desire to take some photos of them. It had become a personal challenge, an itch that seriously needed a scratch. A day out was needed, whatever the weather, and however green the grass, I was going to take some portraits of my kids.
As I’m sure many of you can appreciate, days out with the kids are potentially hard work without the backup of another adult, but I run a tight ship when my husband is away and I refuse to sit around at home moping. So we got packed up and took the dog to a nearby country house I’d heard about, the gardens looked amazing on the website and I was really excited about having a good old day out. However when we arrived it was blinking shut due to adverse weather conditions! Oh so annoying! I wasn’t prepared to turn around and do nothing so we parked up at the gate, got the dog out and went for a walk along a lane where we found some lovely piles of logs. We hunted for the snake from the Gruffalo in the “log pile house” (this is a common theme, we never pass a forest without looking out for the big guy himself. We also had a good look for the fox’s underground house). Much to my delight a little further on we found a whole field of dead seed heads and long grass. Nicely faded grass I should add. The strong wind had blown away the clouds and the sun lit up the field like it was mid summer.
The boys were very contented, they sat down in a sheltered patch in the grass and pulled up the seed heads and studied them. I just adore how natural and easy they are together. They chose to sit very close together, and several times they leant their heads together seemingly without realising what they were doing. Just happy in their closeness. I love their little frowns of concentration and the conversations and giggles between them. I positioned myself so they were backlit and the sunshine kissed their hair and formed a gorgeous halo around them.
I love pictures of them, I love taking pictures of them, they are the sole reason I am a photographer. Instagram has always been about challenging myself to be a better photographer, to take the photos that are more difficult, and crafting a beautiful and technically sound portrait is certainly far more of a challenge than snapping some flowers with my iPhone.
I have always used Instagram (perhaps in fact relied upon Instagram) as a daily source of inspiration, I constantly want to improve as I admire other photographer’s images there. I have also always used Instagram as a personal diary to an extent, and as I’ve said before the result is a record of our lives that I really cherish. These are the reasons that it’s important that I keep doing this and set this time aside. These pictures will always be very special to me, and they put a huge smile on my face.
I’m going to aim to do this at least once a month, take both the boys out together somewhere to take some pictures of them. I had the snow day with them in January and luckily I have just squeaked this into February. I love that I can capture them this way. These brothers, these boys, the essence of them and their friendship. Just doing what they do, being brothers, being boys. I think Dorothea Lange put it perfectly when she said
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
I shot these images RAW with my Nikon D610 in manual mode and my Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens. My ISO was on 400 and my aperture between 3.2 and 4.0. I altered the shutter speed as necessary to expose the shot. They were edited in Lightroom and Photoshop.
As always, thank you for reading,