South London Photographer: Editing photographs I took nearly a year ago!

I have just edited a bunch of photographs I took last year. I remember doing them. It was the second job in a single day and I’d just finished shooting my first christening. I’d been pretty nervous at the time and was tired. I went along to the subsequent job, got a little lost on the way and arrived feeling stressed. I managed to get through the job and got home later to edit two sets of photos.

I can be quite hard on myself and I was a bit worried about the photos I’d taken for job no 2, as I was in the very early days of all this photography stuff at the time. Well, I still am but not quite so very early now… The family were just about to move back to the States at the time and it has taken them quite a few months to come back to me with an order. Which, of course added to my concerns. However, not only have the family got back in touch and ordered their images but they have also ordered many more than were originally offered in the package, which is pleasing.

What’s interesting for me after all this time is to see that I had actually taken some photographs that were OK, despite my reservations. Yes, there are some that I’m not at all happy with but then there always are and I suspect there always will be. I hope however that by now, after 18 months or so of slowly building up my little business, I would have found different ways to solve some of the conundrums that come up when doing family portraiture. The images that work, work well (enough) and I needn’t have been quite so tough on myself at the time. Nevertheless, opening yourself up to the world with work that will be liked and disliked by people depending on their tastes is part of the job.

I recently read a very helpful blog by a successful and thriving photographer/blogging person, in which he wrote that he is sometimes told he takes horrible photographs, writes awful blogs and a whole bunch of other such negative stuff – all of which he helpfully advised to ignore if you were to find yourself in that situation.  Good advice!  And goodness knows, there is enough truly ridiculous crap in life to be getting on with without piling any more crap on myself by being overly harsh and negative about my own work! (I do wonder as I write this if I’ll ever take any real notice of my helpful realisations…)

So, that’s it for now – just some photographs I took nearly a year ago which have been helpful for me to revisit.  Interesting to see where I am now in relation to nearly a year ago, and I think was more than heading in the right direction. Anyway, I will have to write another blog pretty soon to chat about my very first foray into exhibiting my work to the general public, well, I say general public, I mean mostly my very supportive and lovely community… but it was a good start.  Does that mean I am going to step up to 2 blogs a week yet… it’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while… we’ll see. Certainly, I might make it to two posts this week.

Right, that’s it for now… off to get those kids to bed.  Have a great couple of days – back soon. All images (c)SarahJaneField 2014 untitled- untitled-9318 untitled-9320 untitled-9324 untitled-9359 untitled-9371 untitled-9390 untitled-9464 untitled-9520 untitled-9619


A swearing (feral?) toddler, language and discovering other mothers who are OK with being real – South London Photographer

One of the things I enjoy about becoming a photographer is looking out for work by others that I find interesting, effective, beautiful or thought-provoking.  There are so many different uses of and for photography, comparing one with another is often a pointless exercise.  As I study as well as work as a photographer, my understanding of what is possible for me is changing and developing all the time.  Do I want to  concentrate on observational photography or creating my own images that might communicate something to someone? Studying introduces to me to a wide variety of styles and photographic languages and it’s good to have begun appreciating just how much there is out there.

I know photographing families commercially, as I do, gives immense joy and pleasure to parents when they see the images of their children and families.  The funny little scribbles I do on my phone and post to Flickr are like a kind of instant art, colouring-ins that give me immense pleasure and joy as I create them but are ultimately somewhat ephemeral.  I’m still trying to work out how I can use photography to express myself and even what it is I want to express although the college work seems be informing that in some ways.  (I don’t mind saying I was really rather chuffed to be referred to as an ‘artist, thinker and photographer’ by my tutor in my latest feedback!)   I recently stumbled across a highly effective short online film made by photographer, Dana Spaeth, who has put a collection of photographs together to voice her concern about gun violence in the States. It’s a powerful film and the message is stark and alarming – share it, American friends; it is useful for me to see photography being used in this way.

I stumbled across the film on Twitter where it had been shared by a site called Scary Mommy. I’ve not looked at the site fully but my initial reaction was, ‘great, a site that promotes the reality of being a parent’.  There are so many messages out there about being impossibly perfect that it’s somewhat refreshing to come across something that promotes a more truthful message.  My youngest child is at that amazing age where new language just tumbles out of his mouth every day.  As we listen to his developing syntax we are all constantly going ‘cute!!” It’s slightly disconcerting however that he is under the impression when we’re in the car that all people outside the car are called ‘bucking nankers’.  To be fair to me I only tend to use the term ‘bucking nankers’ about motorbike riders who nearly crash into my new car (crazy fools because it’s most likely them that would have come off worse; the bonnet of my car could be fixed or replaced whereas their necks are more tricky to deal with) or suicidal pedestrians who step out in front of my moving vehicle.  Oh, and the occasional ‘bucking’ aggressive driver who thinks he/she owns the ‘bucking’ road!  Still, I probably need to temper my in-car road-rage when the 2 year old is with me.

Here are a couple of photos of my own kids for this week’s blog.  They’re not at all like the commercial family stuff I do but I love the reality about them.  I discussed whether or not to post the second one of my oldest son with him, and he said he liked the styling so I could go ahead – he was having a bad moment, just as any 10 year old boy (well all of us really) does from time to time.  This is the reality of childhood and family life and I do find it quite satisfying to record.  The first image is of my middle son teaching my youngest who has just moved out of nappies how to have a pee when there isn’t a loo around. “Thanks, dude,” said the baby!

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New challenges all the time

Several points in a deliberate shape


So, I’ve just put together an advert!  (No – it’s not the picture above.) Never did that before – well, maybe I played around with Microsoft’s Publisher when I first started working as a marketing assistant in the City years and years ago and literally had no idea what I was meant to be doing so sat around pretending I could design stuff, while some people who sat round the DTP desk just four feet away actually were designing stuff because they knew exactly what they were doing.  Anyway, I am quite chuffed I managed to do it.  The advert is to go in a local school fair programme and I felt it might be a bit much to call on my lovely ex boss’ husband to design another ad for me so soon after he’d put together the one I have going into Contacts, the directory for actors and agents (for which I was extremely grateful.)


As well as getting to grips with Photoshop (not my strongest area as my son so loves to remind me and often) and designing adverts I have recently photographed a wedding for the first time!  I can tell you I felt rather sick driving to the venue and spent the hour getting there wondering why on earth I put myself through this – nerve wracking, gut wrenching terror!!  In fact, over the last few months I have put myself into various situations where I feel somewhat in over my head and find myself cursing the day that I ever agreed, and in some instances asked, for these situations.  Such as when I first worked for an events company just before Christmas – I felt like I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and truth be told I probably didn’t know quite enough.  But as they say, if you never put yourself in uncomfortable positions you’ll never get anywhere.  I have certainly learned an awful lot by getting into these tricky situations and no matter how nervy I have been it’s always been worth it in the end.

I am busy editing the wedding the photographs and will upload a blog all about it soon.  The couple are very local to me…gosh, I hope they’re pleased otherwise I shall had to visit the local cafe and corner shop with a bag over my head.

The other thing I have just managed to finish is Part 2 of the course I started at the beginning of the year, The Art of Photography.  I took quite a lot of photographs in preparation, a couple of which I posted here last week, and ended up ditching all of them and starting again.  I’ve included a few of the ones I used in the end today so you can see what I do when I’m not photographing children and families.  Its quite different and truth be told I’m rather nervous about whether or not I’ve achieved the course requirements but we’ll see. I’ll let you know when I get my feedback!

A single point dominating the image

The sun does appear to be making an appearance today – yay! And enjoy!!

Managing work, studies and being a mummy

The last week has been a good one photography-wise.  I’ve managed to do all the exercises for the module I’m currently doing for The Art of Photography (OCA) and am just about finished with the assignment which feels good.  Although I have no idea if I’m going about it the right way since I’m on only on the second section of the 5 part course .  Time will tell when it’s marked or commented on.  I’m not sure at the moment whether to put my work in to be assessed or not.  It’s possible to simply do the assignments for the joy of it, which of course is worthwhile.  However, I completed my first degree a long time ago, 20 years ago in fact, so I’ve been debating about whether or not to add pressure to an already full existence by actually trying to go for marks this time round.  Perhaps it would be a shame to do all the work and not achieve the grades – we shall see…  anyway, here are some examples of images I may include in the assignment. It’s all about lines and shapes.

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I’ve also had a couple of family shoots over the last five days which have kept me on my toes.  Each one was very different.  Working with young children can be challenging sometimes – they don’t always want their activities interrupted by someone sticking a great big camera in their faces and I’ve yet to master the art of it.  With my background in teaching drama and my experience as a mother you would think it came easy but it doesn’t!  There is so much to think about and it’s a real skill.  However, I’m not averse to a few sullen shots either – in fact I think the less jolly ones can show us something very moving and real.  I think family shoots can offer a wonderful activity in themselves actually but I wonder if people feel under pressure to provide the photographer with an ‘ideal’ family picture to capture.  My task I guess is to encourage a sense of calm and relaxation and enable genuine moments which I’ve then got to record.  No mean feat!  Here are a few from this week’s outings.untitled-1927 untitled-1870 untitled-1723untitled-1364 untitled-1349 untitled-1307-2 untitled-1247

As well as the study and work I’ve been juggling three little boys – now there is a challenge as any mummy and daddy knows.  But we muddle along and my oldest has expressed an interest in helping me with my work!  In fact, he often comments on anything web or computer related and I don’t think it will be long before he is way more advanced with Photoshop than me – although to be fair that wouldn’t be difficult!

One of my very lovely youngest to finish off this week’s post.  Enjoy the weather and long may it last!



Trying to get to grips with all this self promotion stuff…


Today I am photographing some children for a surprise gift.  I won’t be able to post the images here for a while because even though the likelihood of the recipient stumbling across this blog is probably rather slim – you just never know!


However, I have been thinking a lot about all this online self-promotion stuff, Twitter, blogs, Facebook and the like and I think I’ve really got to start getting to grips with it a bit more.  A fellow art student recently commented that it was very time consuming and I guess it is but it seems an integral part of any photography venture if you want to get your work out there for any reason, so rather than see it as a distraction I think it helps to view it as crucial.  So with that in mind I am going to aim to post a bit more often and also go for a rounded approach – i.e. not just posting examples of work but also personal photos, thoughts about my learning process and decisions and updates on the my development.


Last night I felt compelled to sign up for the advanced wedding module with The Photography Institute.  I have one, possibly 2 weddings coming up – something I never really thought I’d end up doing at all to be honest.  But it seems like one of the hardest type of photography to get right so I felt the additional cost and work would be justified.  I did the main course with the institute last year before signing up with The Open College of the Arts in January to study The Art of Photography.  I can’t guarantee all this studying will make me a better photographer, although I sincerely hope it does (and think it has already done so!) but it certainly demonstrates a level of commitment on my part to be as good as I possibly can.


The photo at the top here is of my youngest son.  Again, I’ve decided to leave his face as it was rather than wipe away the dirt in Photoshop.  For me this will be a genuine memory of how he was when I look back in years to come. I love the lighting and mood in this photo – it really captures his soft and tender side.

Family having fun in the sun (not on a screen for a change!)

When I’m not taking head shots or doing family shoots I am studying The Art of Photography with The Open College of Arts and my latest exercise is to take photographs that depicct movement.  There are many ways of doing this but I thought I’d try some slow shutter speeds when visiting the seaside with my boys recently.  Here are a few of my efforts.untitled-1292 untitled-1343 untitled-1349 untitled-1350 untitled-1376