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10 Tips To Take Great Family Photographs This Summer

Helen Bartlett is award-winning family photographer and a brand ambassador for Canon. She has been working as a professional photographer since 2003 and specialises in natural, black and white photographs of children and families. She is based in London but regularly travel throughout Europe photographing families having fun together and capturing memories for the children to look back on in the future.

Helen & Family

Thank you Helen, for sharing your top tips…

The suitcases are packed, the kids are excited and the summer holiday draws near. This is the time of year that many of us reach for our cameras or our phones to record the fun times spent together as a family, to take photographs that the kids can look back on and remember the seemingly endless summers of their childhood, and the fun we have together.

In this article I want to share with you some of the tricks I have learnt over fourteen years as a family photographer. Tips that will, I hope, inspire you to make this year the best year for your family photographs.

1. Carry your camera with you

This might seem obvious but I’m as guilty as the next person of taking my camera away on holiday and then leaving it in my hotel room. If your camera is too heavy, then perhaps now’s the time to get a smaller one that you can carry with you and there are so many brilliant compacts out there that offer you a lot of creative control while still fitting in a pocket.

The benefit of a separate camera is also that you can be phone-free and concentrate on your time together as a family without the temptation to check in on email.

The main thing is to remember that the best camera is the one you have with you so work out what suits you best and carry it with you everywhere.


2.Pick your moments

There are two parts to this tip – good times for the children and good times for the light and they are both equally important for a great results.

The best light is in the golden hour just before sunset and just after dawn but equally, trying to photograph a toddler past their bedtime is a recipe for disaster.

Work around the children’s schedules and never miss a nap for a photo opportunity, tired children are not easy subjects for the camera.

I find that first thing in the morning works best for both the light and the children’s moods as everyone is full of energy, has fully tummies from breakfast, and kids are usually really happy to cooperate for some family pictures before the day gets started.

Of course, equally don’t let a great moment pass you by just because the light isn’t great, if everyone is happy and having fun then that is the most important thing.


3. Look for the light

Light can make or break a picture and the more you look for it the better your pictures will be. Open shade, such as under a tree, is perfect for family groups as nobody will be squinting and the light is soft and flattering.

If you are indoors then find a window and have your children sit nearby and look towards the light for the best pictures. Bright sunlight on the beach at the middle of the day can be very difficult for photography due to the wide contrast and harsh shadows so try to take beach shots early in the morning or towards the end of the day when the sun is lower in the sky.

At sunset consider taking silhouette images –expose your images for the sky and get the children to jump in the air or hold hands for a beautiful picture.


4. Photograph everyone having fun and engaging in activities

It’s tempting on family holidays to come back with a selection of pictures of the family posed in front of different landmarks. These pictures have their place, of course, but it’s also nice to mix in more candid shots of everyone having fun.

Instead of posing statically before a beautiful view perhaps get the kids to play a game and use the environment as an element of the picture rather than the main focus. If there are games or activities that will sum up your holiday, then make sure to photograph those.


5. Photograph the details too

These can be delightful to look back on, the teddy your child refused to leave at the hotel the entire trip, the crabs you caught by the sea.

Take pictures that will spark conversations with your children when you get home or when you look back on the pictures in a few years’time.


6. Tell a story

Engaging in activities and photographing details are all part of a bigger picture, that of telling the story of your holiday. Try to take pictures that remind you of what was happening and with whom.

If your kids are constantly winding each other up, do photograph that too, some of my favourite shots of my brother and I from my childhood we are bickering and laughing at the same time.

7.Take pictures of all the important people

Summer holidays are often the time we catch up with grandparents and it’s wonderful to photograph the children with the older generation.

Look for the activities people do together as this takes the pressure off posing for a picture and also makes the resulting images so much more meaningful.

8. Make sure to get in the pictures yourself!

In every family there is always someone who is the main photographer. In my family it was my dad and there are less pictures of him from my childhood than of the rest of us.

With smartphones and selfie sticks, self-timers on compact, mirrorless or DSLR cameras it’s easier than ever to make sure everyone is in the frame. Your children will love seeing pictures with you in and if you struggle with selfies, I always seem to have my hand over the lens, ask someone else to take your picture, or even think about hiring a professional.

It’s becoming increasingly common for families to hire a photographer for half a day while on holiday to accompany the family and take pictures of everyone having fun. This is a fantastic option, as it means you can be present in the action and leave the professional to take care of the pictures.


9. Edit your pictures

Back them up.

Make a book.

It’s easy to take pictures and then forget to edit them and once you are back home then normal day to day pressures take over and often the images get forgotten.

Try editing your pictures of an evening, apps like Adobe Lightroom are now available for your phone or iPad and are perfect for holidays.

I also love Snapseed and use it to process all the pictures I take on my phone.

Do keep a copy of the unprocessed version of your favourite images in case you want to go back to reprocess in the future. Do remember to back up all your images as phones and hard drives do fail.

There are a lot of cloud-based storage options available now and these are amazing. Then print your pictures, pop favourites in frames or tape them to the fridge. Perhaps make a book of thesummer of 2018 that you can all look back through together. Make sure the pictures are looked at as this is what it is all about.


10. Have fun

Most of all enjoy it, have fun. Taking photographs of our loved ones is one of the most wonderful and rewarding things we can do. Images that everyone will look back on in the future and remember the good times they had together, it’s a great gift for the children and it’s such fun to do.

This is so useful. I especially liked 7 and 8 – get yourself and the Grandparents in photo! Thank you Helen!

Helen is available to take your family photos, so get in touch or

Family Life Spotlight

Spotlight on Carla Monge : Family Photographer

Our first ever au pair, after 2 years with us moved on to become a nanny for a lovely Spanish family in Clapham. I drove her to her new job and met her wonderful new employers, one of which  I discovered was a wonderful photographer. We stayed in touch through Instagram (her feed is beautiful btw) and was delighted when she asked if I would review one of her packages –  relaxed family photos in your own house.

Any mother who tries to snap her kids will know how rare it is to get a good photo with the combination everyone’s eyes open, good light and happy so I was happy to give Carla the challenge of getting some photos of all of us.


As soon as she entered our home, the magic happened and she managed to get the children’s attention with a very cunning knack of asking them to look for the frog in the lens (I think it was a frog – I was so enamoured with the concept I can’t actually remember the exact tactic.)


She new the hardest shot is the ones of all the kids together so she got to work on that whilst they were still in post breakfast high. (She likes to start early at about 9 so she can get there best hours before they get tired and hungry).

She said then what would work best is if we just pretended she wasn’t there and get on with what we normally do (ok, not washing up breakfast) but playing in the garden, doing a puzzle etc.

We then moved around the house and she conscientiously made sure that every combination of child/child & child/adult was covered, which she achieved seamlessly and calmly.

I was so thrilled with the session. Carla is a lovely girl to have around and having two children of her own is very natural with kids. She knows about attention spans and distracting to get the best out of the children and her photography skills speak for themselves in her photos.  She is a very talented lady!


If you would like to win a 30 minute photo shoot in the park worth £130 including five prints and images, head over to my Instagram to win!

How did you develop your passion for photography? 

My interest in photography goes all the way back to Dad’s old film camera as a teenager, I remember developing my first roll of film in the darkroom at school and being amazed at seeing my creations appearing on paper! I continued with some street photography during university, but as happens so often, life and work just got busy and I put my hobby to one side for several years.

Carla & Family

It wasn’t until my first child was born that I really started shooting again to capture every single little detail, first smiles, tiny hands and feet, I didn’t want to miss a thing! During each of my maternity leaves I learnt everything I could about photography online, and I haven’t put my camera down since! I like to think that one day my children will see their childhood, through my eyes, in my photographs.

What made you decide to do it professionally? 

As I started sharing my photography on Instagram in particular, family and friends started asking me if I could photograph their families. I really enjoyed my first few sessions and creating those timeless memories that mean so much to me for others, so I decided to take the leap!

What’s your style?

My style is very natural, lifestyle photography, capturing the beauty of natural family connections.

Who do you love to photograph? 

All families really, families with newborns, young siblings, mornings with grandparents, I enjoy photographing it all!

What is your pricing structure? 

I tailor each family session to each unique family and love seeing each family’s personality emerge in the photo galleries I deliver. I do newborn and family sessions where I spend 2-3 hours of a morning with a family either in the comfort of their own home or outdoors.

The booking fee is £175 which includes the photography session itself, a pre-shoot consultation to get to know your family a little better and tailor the session to your unique family personality, a styling guide and recommendations to prepare both parents and children for the session for best results.

My photography packages start at £150 and I offer a range of options of prints, digital packages, frames and albums. Finally, I firmly believe in displaying photographs rather than storing them on a hard drive where they will be forgotten and won’t be fully appreciated, so I always include a post-shoot consultation to give guidance on the different options to best display your images.

With such a reasonable price for such quality results, if I were you I would get booking!


Carla’s Favourites :

Restaurant : Cambio De Tercio in South Kensington, for when I start missing Spanish food!

Hotel : I have to say that with such amazing houses on AirBnB, I rarley stay at hotels with my family anymore!

Website : Amazon! (does that count? It’s a life saver for me!) 😉

Shop : I love shopping locally and there’s a little shop in my neighbourhood called Lizzie’s, it’s become my go-to for buying all sorts of thoughtful little presents for people.

Holiday destination : My best holiday ever was on Safari in Botswana, my husband and I vowed we would do it again, maybe for our 25 year anniversary? 🙂

Parenting tip : “Patience, patience and more patience….and remember to have fun!”



Rebecca Challis : Lifestyle Photographer (& GIVEAWAY)

I have wanted to post about the incredible Rebecca Challis for a while, but my plan was to write about her whilst simultaneously updating my profile shot across my blog, Facebook etc and I just haven’t got round to it.  This was partly due to the nature of it being a bit shy making – promoting someones business with photos of YOURSELF (#waves) and partly due to lack of time!!

Anyway, 1st December is the day t0 remove the  dated photo of myself and my daughter when she was a baby – and upgrade.

Here it is!

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Most importantly, who took it?!

Rebecca Challis is a lifestyle photographer who is an expert at taking photos from portrait to still life.

She runs a special business taking lifestyle photography packages for local entrepreneurs and small businesses.




She is also ace at taking more corporate shots for linked (or a dating profile pic!)



She also excels at family and baby photos too.


In need of some photos to accompany your business?

Why not get yours done?

You could get photographs of yourself and products to update your marketing materials and have extra beautiful images to drip feed into your social media over the next few months.

Here are a couple of the photos that she took.

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Notice my cheeky outfit change…

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For only £200, you will get a one hour business lifestyle shoot at work, at home or on location. It will include 20 digital images for your commercial use on website, social media and marketing materials.

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And here is the best bit.

She has given me 3 £50 vouchers below to giveaway (spot who is on the voucher!!)

So each session would only be £150 instead of £200.

Your shoot will be up to 1 hours and includes 20 edited photos from it. You could do a couple of shots of yourself and some product shots. Whatever you like!


Simply drop me an email with REBECCA CHALLIS in the subject title.

On 10th December  I will put all the names into a hat and pull three names. (I will video it like I did last time!) and then announce the winners on my blog.


(Or you could buy a beautifully presented voucher as present with any amount on it!)


It’s definitely something we all need to do, so something to think about isn’t it?


Rebecca’s Favourites

Shop : Zara Home!

Website : Pinterest, I use it to relax before going to bed….just pinning pretty things to look at. I also use it a lot before a shoot for inspiration and to store all my ideas when we renovated our house and Instagram of course.

Restaurant : The Black Swan in Ockham roaring fires, yummy food and great service and more recently Indigo at One Aldwych which is all dairy and gluten free!

Hotel : Martinhal, Sagres Portugal – heading there for the fourth time in November. Absolutely perfect set up for kids, so parents can relax and enjoy.

Holiday Destination : Anywhere in Italy if we are not going to Portugal (again!)

Parenting Tip :

Lots of fresh air and long walks make everyone in our house calmer.



Services Spotlight

Jonathan Self : Time For Family Photos!

Trying to get a good photo of one of our children is hard enough (although I try frequently enough) and all 3 together is virtually impossible. Usually one looks grumpy, one is running off, one is hiding their face – you know the score. We had sidelined trying to get that elusive family shot until the youngest was atleast 8 for the aforementioned reasons. So when we were recommended Jonathan Self who takes family photos, I was thrilled – it was his challenge now, not mine…

Jonathan Self is a London based freelance photographer who shoots mainly family and lifestyle portraits.  He popped over a few days before the shoot to meet the kids and discuss where we wanted to do it and what kind of shots we wanted. He prefers to do a few shots inside at home and then head outside to a park or garden. Richmond, Chiswick House, Regents Park, Hyde Park, St James Park, Kew, Syon are some of the places that he has shot at. We chose Fulham Palace as it was not only close & picturesque – it was enclosed!

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Hopefully from the photos below you will be able to see that Jonathan is not only technically skilled, he is able to capture a moment.


Robins family low-res photos (127 of 129)


Robins family low-res photos (69 of 129)

Robins family low-res photos (46 of 129)


I have even managed to print some out onto canvas and in a frame!



Jonathan’s Favourite’s

Shop : Pitfield, London

Website : Landmark Trust

Restaurant : Maggie Jones, Kensington

Hotel : Lords Of The Manor, Glos

Holiday Destination : A chateau in France

Jonathan is usually £250 for a family shoot (up to 4 hours) but for The London Mummy readers, he is doing a special offer of £200. This will include a high resolution and low resolution CD of edited photos. Please quote The London Mummy.

+44 7977 569 880