Quantock hills family photography with a 50s theme and a little bubble fun.
Some years back I photographed Ed & Stefanie’s wedding at Halswell House in Goathurst. Fast forward several years and with the addition of son Hunter, they are just as fun and adventurous as they were on their wedding day, and have created a family tradition of having family photos taken in the theme of the decades of the last century. This year it was the 50s.
So let’s have a chat with Ed and Stefanie, now some 12 years since their wedding day!
Have you had any family photography before?
Ed: Yes I believe you’ve worked before with us Ross (he laughs).
Stephanie: We’ve also had the studio photography in Lynmouth which is what started the whole decades thing.
Ed: Yes so I suppose we should say we originally had photos done in a Victorian photo studio in Lynmouth when Hunter was very young.
Stephanie: Also the other ones that I did with Hunter with Claire (another photographer) that was sort of natural, candid photos.
Me: Okay so you are very familiar then with having family photos.
Stephanie: Yes I think so.
What was the reason behind having some photos taken?
Ed: From me on my side it’s because we take an awful lot of photos on our phone, and they are never particularly good. They are always kind of throwaway photos and we also make a photo album book every year for the family.
We just wanted something that was a bit nicer looking a bit more professionally done, something that was a bit more fun as well, something Hunter could get involved in and have fun together with us.
Stephanie: I was listening to a podcast where they mentioned that’s they thought professional Family photos were just so worthwhile for pretty much the reasons Ed said. You never have really nice photos of your kids. It’s just a nice way to remember them and to have nice looking photos of them basically.
There is often the problem, they usually say it’s the mum who’s always the one taking the photos and she’s never in them. There’s also the problem of never everyone together.
Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted from your family photography or did you need some guidance or inspiration?
Ed: It’s a bit of both, I mean we know what we want to do every year because we are doing this slightly weird decades thing; we started in the 1900s and every year we progressed 10 years. As to exactly what those photos look like, yeah it’s really helpful to have some guidance on where the location might be or the best way to arrange ourselves. We both work in TV, but we are not photographers, so having someone who can guide us into making decent looking photos is always appreciated.
Stephanie: Yeah, especially for this one where we were like “oh we need a 50s diner, or a period correct car” and your idea to just have a picnic with a retro radio and a wicker basket was really good and helpful because it helped us save a lot of money and make life a lot easier.
With your family Photography, what were the things that were important to you?
Stephanie: I think mainly just like Ed said, just having nicer photos with everyone in them…… and we like having candid photos that aren’t really posed as well, so going to a studio to get photos of Hunter for example would probably be, we wouldn’t choose to do that.
Ed: From my side, I mean I travel a lot, so having photos of Hunter are nice to look back on when I’m away is really helpful, and also the main reason we started doing these photos is because I was at a few different people’s houses and they had the classic, on the shagpile rug in a studio, everyone piled on top of each other photos, looking angelic, and they just make me hurl slightly. I just didn’t want that, I just wanted something different, something that would be a bit of fun that Hunter could get involved in, so the decades thing is quite fun because Hunter gets to get dressed up and we get to get dressed up as well and do something a bit different.
Hopefully he won’t look back on these photos as hugely embarrassing, but more that it was a fun family tradition.
Me: So the location side of things then as opposed to a Studio, a location shoot worked pretty well for you.
Ed: Yeah I mean I always like being outside being somewhere different. I mean you can’t get the same thing in a studio. I’ve mean the first few photos we did were in a studio, but those were of a period where all the photos were taken in studios.
What made you decide to book me for your family photos?
Ed: Well as you know Ross, you did our original wedding photos which we were very pleased with back in the day, so it just made sense when we were looking for a photographer who could do a bit of reportage style, as well as more set up photos. You fitted the bill because you did both for our wedding and they came out great.
Before you saw the photos did you think the location of the photoshoot matched up with what you had hoped for?
Ed: Yeah I think so. I think we were slightly concerned when we turned up and all the grass had been cut down, but the actual location itself was beautiful, it was a lovely place.
Stephanie: Yeah I think it was a great location, I wasn’t worried about the grass, I was more worried about the ants that were biting everyone.
Me: Ha ha, yeah that wasn’t planned!
Thinking back to the day, if you were describing the photoshoot to a friend, describe what happened, the process of the time I spent with you from meeting to leaving.
Ed: We met Ross, we met yourself, at the car park where we were getting dressed into our outfits and you took us all for a little walk to have a look at different locations that we could potentially shoot at.
You’ve also introduced yourself to Hunter which I thought was really nice, you have a nice way with kids which is great because it always puts Hunter at ease.
We scouted a few places and saw one that looked alright and then came back to the car and got ourselves all dressed and brought all the camera gear across.
Then we all got set up and then the moment we got set up we got swarmed by thousands of biting flying ants which led to a slight rethink of the plans. It just meant moving slightly away from the ants.
We spent a couple of hours doing photos in the field with Hunter and us, and then we headed back to the car and you took a few more ad hoc photos in the car park and the forest while we were getting packed away.
Me: It’s funny actually because some of my favourite photos are actually taken right at the end when you are putting your stuff away in the car. The background is really dark behind Hunter and it made him stand right out, and also he’s got his little jam tart there….
Ed: He was looking a bit sad, but I quite like how he looks slightly pensive with his jam tart.
How do the final photos compare to what you originally had in mind before booking me for your family photography?
Ed: I think, well we had all sorts of different ideas about what we might do. The original ones we were thinking 1950s Hollywood. Actually I think it works a lot nicer to have 1950s England which is kind of more rural idyllic kind of style. And I think they turned out great. I mean obviously I hate myself in photos, Steph always comments on not liking to see herself so I think it’s always kind of interesting to see how you look on film. They actually came out really nicely so I’m very pleased with them.
Stephanie: Let me put it this way, we’ve got some weight added on from the pandemic so I was dreading the photos because I thought I would look really large. And they look better than I thought they would. Next year we are going to do skinny photos.
Me: I know that some of the photos where it shows you full length, those were taken with a very long lens. I think if you use a long lens, it shows a much more realistic and flattering view. If I’d had you closer up, potentially it might have been more unflattering, so I think it always looks better when you have a long lens on. Like I say, it’s actually more true to life, so maybe that was what helped you like the pictures.
Ed: We’re just aware of being in lockdown the last two years.
Stephanie: I think we just knew we wouldn’t look as thin as we did in our wedding photos, let’s put it that way.
They turned out really well considering… At least I was a bit apprehensive about having my photo taken
Any favourite photos?
Ed: I mean I like some of the picnic ones where we’re all sitting down together, there’s a couple of those that I think are really fun, the slightly more impromptu ones. And obviously I’m biased, but I always love the ones of Stef and Hunter together, I always think they are great to look back on those.
What do you think helped the photo shoot to work?
Ed: Oh Ross, well we would have to say you wouldn’t we (he laughs). Generally though, partly the weather was great as well, and also you buying into the idea as much as we do. I mean if we had a photographer who is like “oh this is a bit dumb” then it would all be a bit uncomfortable and awkward, but seeing as you were just happy to go along with our slight madness, that helped it all along.
How would you compare having the photos taken dressed up as you were, versus if you hadn’t got dressed up?
Ed: You probably wouldn’t get me in a portrait photo where I wasn’t wearing a silly costume is the honest answer because I hate having photos taken. So for me probably being in the photo versus not being in the photo.
Stephanie: I guess it’s a bit like acting a character rather than yourself, so it’s a bit freeing in a way, you’re not that self-conscious. I think that might of helped.