Amongst the hustle and bustle of London city, behind a 35mm lens, Fiona Caroline is snapping photos of a family as they stroll through their favourite park and play games around the kitchen table. Fiona is a family lifestyle photographer who loves to capture those candid moments turning them into wonderful, timeless images.
With us all spending a little more time indoors at the moment, camera on hand and the kids up to more antics than usual ;) we asked Fiona to give us a bit more of an insight into lifestyle photography and was kind enough to share some of her top tips on how you could best snapshot your everyday and turn them into a work of art.
How did you get into family photography or photography for that matter?
I started taking pictures when I was at school, and loved it so much that I went onto study Art & Photography at University. It’s here I started shooting film, which I adore! Shooting film has really made me a better photographer - shooting more mindfully, learning about light and how to shoot in different situations. I shoot now a mix of film and digital.
I started working with families very slowly a few years ago, but it’s only been in the last few years I’ve started actively shooting family sessions - and only the last year I’ve really honed down on shooting in the home! I love everything a family shoot offers - the lovely parents, energetic children and sleepy newborns and I’m so lucky to say that I have stayed friends with pretty much all of my clients!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love meeting my families and knowing I can provide timeless and precious images of them that they will love, print and look back on in years to come. Which is why Albums are super important for me to include with every shoot - everyone loves an album but sometimes they need someone to make it for them! I also just enjoy having fun with my clients, their happiness when I deliver the images (that’s the best) - but also the freedom it offers me to be more present with my own family.
So onto some photo shoot questions...
Where should the family do their photo shoot? Home, in a park or other family favourite location?
It really depends on the family! I now photograph most of my clients in their home. For me, the home is such an important part of the shoot - it is where everything happens! You are surrounded by things that are part of your lives. I photograph a lot of newborns, and that makes the home extra special in my opinion because it’s babies' first home!
Occasionally I will have clients that want an outdoor shoot, in a park or a walk in their neighbourhood. Though I shoot outside less than in the home, as long as there is a connection to the environment, I think that is a perfect location.
Okay, let’s talk lockdown - how is it affecting you?
Well, it’s a bit strange for sure, and an obviously difficult time for many of us. But regarding my business, I have completely stopped shooting for the time being - until the government lifts the restrictions. I had quite a few newborn shoots lined up for April - and I’m sure it’s really disappointing for my clients, but can’t be helped. Luckily I have the sweetest clients, and so far everyone of them have chosen to reschedule the shoot, which I am super grateful for.
Talking about missing shoots - newborns and families - do you have any tips to help people take their own photographs indoors, during this time?
Absolutely! That’s such a great question to ask as I am sure there are so many people that have great smartphones and cameras, and with a bit of a nudge and some direction they can capture some really beautiful family imagery. Here are some of my top tips:
- Look for the natural light in your home - working where you know the light is good is going to immediately improve pictures, even if it’s not the most stereotypical place! So if it’s a newborn, get Dad to snap a few pictures of Mama and baby with some soft window light.
- Generally avoid harsh, midday light as the nicest light is going to be soft, natural light (think early morning or afternoon). But you can definitely play around with harsher light (especially with more boisterous families!) Use shadows and the patterns they make to add some interest into an image.
- Keep it natural - let things happen naturally, especially with babies, I think the most beautiful moments are just watching and catching the connections between baby and parents. Stand outside of rooms and capture movement and moments through the door frame.
- Get a little adventurous - I love shooting through windows or reflections in mirrors. Work with what you have in your home!
- Prompts! There’s some great prompts, if you have older kids, to get fun and authentic images. I love chinese whispers as a prompt, but there are so many if you look online.
- Don’t forget the details. This is a biggie - sure get a family portrait with everyone smiling and get those natural moments we discussed - but also the details. With newborns that's getting close and capturing the little feet, hands and eyelashes. With older children it could be curls in their hair to sweet, evening cuddles with parents. I was once told ‘your legs are the zoom’ which just means get in close - that’s my final tip!