Indian Families at home in the UK

The circle of care in Indian families embraces all the generations as I discovered during a visit to a friend.

I first met Vinod Ravi when he became my lodger. I had moved back to UK, bought a house and decided to rent out a room. Originally from Hydrabad in India, Vin left his home and family to study and make a career in IT in the UK. We got on very well. He introduced me to the customs and cultures of Indian families and likewise I educated him in the British life-roast beef and yorkshire puddings, local beers and gigs with local bands.

Fast forward eight years and in that time I have been to his wedding in India and met his charming Indian family, Sravanthi and son Dhruvan. They have both worked tirelessly in their jobs and managed to have time to bring up their son now three years old. Their determination and work ethic paid off, they now live in a spacious modern house in a town on the outskirts of London. A remarkable progression from a humble room in my terraced house in Suffolk.

Despite their busy lives this family hold Indian family values and traditions very seriously. Although they have become westernised they have not let go of their culture and traditions. Like many Indian families they wear traditional Indian dress for celebrating festivals and blessings and extended family come to visit from India to give a helping and supporting role to the young family and to celebrate new experiences with them.

On a recent trip to UK I stopped off to visit Vin and his family at their new home. Here I discovered the whole family, both sets of parents were visiting from India. Both mothers were wearing colourful Saris and welcomed my wife and I warmly with a feast of traditional home cooked Indian food. Dhruvan instantly called my wife Auntie which won her over! My mind was full of the images I could see in front of me. The family, the extended family, the bonding, the traditions, the colour, the lifestyle. Alas, I had to be on a plane to return to the US.

Back home I couldn’t let it go. I called Vin to see if there was the possibility to do a photoshoot with the whole family if I could get back there in time before the parents left. They would be delighted to, he said. I searched for available flights, expecting to find prices way to high to accommodate my last minute whim. Then I found it…a very reasonable flight and I would be flying back to London to following weekend.

Landing in London on Sunday at 9 am local time I took the train to Vin’s home. By 2.30 that afternoon I was photographing the family. My focus was family lifestyle, centred around the child. The interaction of care, love, learning, teaching and togetherness with his family were the concepts I wanted to capture. The ethnicity of this family added another dimension to my usual family ensembles. Here, we can see a different ethnicity and culture living in a western society, embracing and sharing the lifestyle .

That evening, the photoshoot over, once again I was well nourished with the delicacies of Vin’s mother’s Indian dishes. I was given a bed for the night and slept very soundly. Early the next morning I was back at the airport for a flight back to the US.

36 hours flying, 3 hours photography and 24 hours in the UK. Was it worth it? With my belly full and my thirst for compelling images quenched I would say, yes!

Link here to view more childhood imagery with adventure and play as the theme.

Summer Fun in the Low Country

Brother and sister exploring outdoors and climbing tree in the summer vacation
Brother and sister exploring outdoors and climbing tree in the summer vacation

This month we packed our bags and the cameras and took a road trip to South Carolina to photograph and video some summer fun.

Here we caught up with a great family who were enjoying their school vacation in the great outdoors. The beautiful natural environment with big trees and expanses of water are the ideal playground for adventurous, brave, energetic kids to explore and learn just by being themselves.

Summer fun would not be complete without friends, brothers and sisters to share it with. This family of four took us to their grandparents home where they love to be. A tree swing, a big grass area to run around and a wooden boat dock jutting over the river was the perfect location for our photography.

We took along some props for the kids to have fun with. Some bubbles, water bombs and juicy watermelon were introduced intermittently. By doing this the kids response was real. Laughter, expressions and spontaneity where there to capture in the camera.

The really wonderful thing about these kids is their desire to be outdoors. They are not afraid to run barefoot, get dirty feet, swim in the lake and climb trees.

During a location scout we found a friendly neighbour who had a fallen tree in her backyard. It stretched across a muddy dyke where pieces of wood had been placed making precarious bridges. Having made sure it was safe ( Gary’s excuse for crossing the bridges and climbing on the tree trunk) we brought the kids to the tree and let them loose. Their pleasure at discovering a new adventure was exciting. Off came the flip flops and bare footed they explored their capabilities.

Back at the dock they amazed us once again by fearlessly jumping into the river, climbing higher as they gained confidence. It was refreshing to watch their support and encouragement of each other as their held hands and leapt to the count of three.

Of course Mum was at hand for these moments and no one was pressured out of their comfort zone.

Due to the great light in the early morning we were able to use minimal equipment. For stills a Canon 5dmk3 with a bit of handheld strobe light to kick light into shadows and for film a Canon 1dc shooting 4K and a hand held reflector.

Regardless of how much attention we paid to photographic equipment, propping and styling the best ingredient for this shoot was undoubtedly the kids themselves.

See a link here to more images.

Homeschooling and Wholesome Imagery

 

Young girl being homeschooled studying through technology at home
Young girl being homeschooled studying through technology at home

Homeschooling and Wholesome Imagery

I was honoured to meet a young girl who welcomed me into her home to shoot a day in her life at her school. She is homeschooled, a difficult decision for her parents but one that is paying off. I just photographed what I saw, no tidying, propping or styling, just the camera and one light followed her moves. In her bedroom at her desk she twirled around on the swivel chair. She used the laptop for research, scribbling notes and listening to music as she worked. In a quiet snug in the playroom she curled up on soft cushions to read a book. Occasionally her loyal dog joined her, only distracted for a moment to stroke his silky ears. Whenever she wanted to she headed outdoors to explore her natural environment, climbing trees and building dens. At the weekend she met a friend to explore the nature in the woods, again I tagged along capturing the friendship and trust between the young girls.

The structure of public school is not for everyone and the popularity of homeschooling is rising with studies showing that students who are homeschooled are scoring higher than public school students in standardised tests, they seem to be smarter and more mature earlier and become self directed learners as adults.

The educational, physical and emotional freedom means students are learning what they want when they want, they can pace themselves to learn when they are ready and live in a world unencumbered with peer pressure, adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation. They can learn in their outdoor environment, exploring and being inquisitive and adventurous. Of course, advances in technology together with the availability of resources over the internet make homeschooling easier and more effective today.

Reflecting on the shoot I learnt two things. First I had to scale down the production to limited equipment, using available lighting and one strobe enabled me to capture moments as they happened. Secondly I saw how being homeschooled can be good wholesome fun, promoting moral well-being, independence and a positive approach to learning.

Bad weather challenges a photo production

 

Family sailing vacation on luxury Hinckley Yacht
Family sailing vacation on luxury Hinckley Yacht

Despite bad weather this shoot has been my most memorable this year so far.

I was shooting for a regular client who I love to shoot for, putting a breath of real life living into the images for their brand of yachts. This image was captured in the last few minutes of daylight on a section of the intracoastal near Stuart, Florida.

However, it almost didn’t happen due to a bad weather front delaying our start by 1 hour. I have never called off a big production/shoot in all the 25 years of my career but this one was touch and go. An unexpected change in weather with heavy rain and stormy clouds challenged me to make a decision with the client. I held out and 3 hours later it paid off with this shot.

It just happened that in the end the ingredients were right. The sky with it’s moody grey clouds reflecting the amber glow of the sun as it descended from the sky and the perfect talent and crew on board all played a part in allowing me to get this great shot.

The talent on the yacht were a real family who live locally and are happiest in and around the water. Having worked with them before I had a good relationship with the children who trusted me with my directions and I trusted them to be confident on the paddle board and not fall in! At such a young age they were so accomplished but if they got tired I just hung on to the back of the board and paddled them into position, still holding my camera to get some great POV shots and wide shots of the boat for the collection. In this one I was shooting from a small boat, a Boston Whaler, with a shallow draft perfect for getting into shallow water and close up when needed. View a short teaser video below.

Croatia Coastal Journey.

Father holds his daughter as she steers the yacht
Father holds his daughter as she steers the yacht

The value of production can never be overlooked, a great example is from our shoot Croatia coastal journey.  

Months of communication with local producer, casting talent and hand picking a crew that were not only skilled sailors but competent and versatile to assist in image production too.

We chartered a yacht, a Grand Soleil 43 from NCP Yacht Charters in Sibenik, an hours drive from Split airport in Croatia. We were very impressed with this company, their communication was excellent and they are very welcoming. The marina was clean, efficient and well provisioned with super clean toilet/ shower facilities, supermarket and cafe/ bar.

For the first three days we took models onboard, a couple, a mum and young daughter, then twin 7 year old girls ( Papa came too ) We were sailing and shooting in different locations around the islands which meant picking up and dropping off at different locations in the Islands or on the mainland. We would be sailing from Sibenik on the mainland to Solta, Brac, Vis and Kornati National Park. I had the logistics finely tuned as sometimes the yacht hardly stopped, as we sailed by the harbour wall people leapt on or off the boat!  Also it was important to keep the boat fully provisioned for 8 people eating for 2 days and plenty of water, snacks, beer, wine and sun cream.

With so many crew everyone had their jobs. Production manager Anna styled models, took care of paperwork and fed them all. I directed and took the images, sometimes on the deck, sometimes from the dinghy propelled by assistants Greg or Jens. Whoever was left on the yacht controlled the lighting. Somehow, someone was always available to steer the yacht when it wasn’t the talent at the wheel.

We would usually anchor somewhere for lunch and  enjoy diving into the unbelievably clear blue sea to cool off. As captain I would look for an anchorage using the charts and work out distances and times, thus when we turned the yacht into the little bays we were always blown away at the first sight of the natural beauty of the location. Sometimes there was a cafe or restaurant which we either reached by dinghy or, my favourite thing to do, swim ashore!

When the shooting had finished it was just the crew left, time to really relax and recharge. We all enjoyed a sail to the Kornati National Park  Wow!, the bare rocks rise out of the ocean, a lack of vegetation give a moon surface appearance, it was as if we were discovering a new land.

LGBT couple

LGBT couple at home with their child
LGBT couple at home with their child

For the last year an image I created portraying a gay couple walking hand in hand has been the featured image on the front of the Getty creative website. With this in mind we realised the need for more authentic, relaxed images of real people in the LGBT community. This LGBT couple helped us by allowing us to photograph them while supporting the exposure of the gay community in lifestyle imagery for advertising

We welcomed the lovely couple into our home where they would feel relaxed and confident to be themselves. The addition of a baby to create a little family widened the scenario. The result was a collection of images full of vitality, warmth and energy. Real people in real situations.

Camping lifestyle in Spain

 

Our latest lifestyle photoshoot series revolved around a camping lifestyle in Spain.

Family camping trip in Spain
Family camping trip in Spain

Senior talent and a young family came together in a great location in southern Spain and a talented, fun, adaptable crew included a photo assistant and a stylist. Organising the photoshoot took six months of production with a local producer from Granada. Using a producer added increased production value to the imagery.

The two young boys and their Mum came with us from UK but the senior talent were booked through an agency in Granada. Using a producer helped with the language barrier and he organised locations and permits. A permit was needed to shoot half way up the mountain! Having the young family with us ensured a good relationship with the children and they got to know and trust everyone. Having two boys of similar age meant we could switch them around if one was not ‘camera ready’, for example, still in his pyjamas having been pulled from his bed at 6am! The Mediterranean hours took some adjusting for them. The late nights not being the  problem….

We shot a camping lifestyle in Spain in the Sierra Nevada amongst the snow-capped mountains that formed a background to the playful camping shots. The tranquility of the lake was perfect for the evening shoot with friends relaxing around the campfire.

As always light was the key to the images. Early starts and long evening shoots to capture the delicate light. Luckily we were able to sneak a much-needed siesta!

 

 

Teenage lifestyle

Teenage lifestyle

Teenagers can so often get the wrong kind of attention when most of them are just growing up and exploring their interests and hobbies. They are just finding out what they are capable of, be it immersing themselves in technology of some kind, spending time with friends or listening to music through headphones. A teenage lifestyle often happens behind the closed door of their bedroom.

I was lucky enough to be able capture moments of a teenage lifestyle through 15 year old teenager Beth. She opened her door and let my camera into her world of music, study, creativity and dogs! Beth has a wonderful relationship with her pet dog Simba who is a permanent resident in her room so I had to include him in this shoot. I captured the bond between them. In this image his body rests against hers and they are so close his whiskers are tickling her.