One sunny afternoon a little while ago, I was invited along to meet the Sharma family as they had recently moved house and wanted the chance to get some photos of them all at home having fun. As with many photo shoots, it was the Mum of the family, Aditi who had contacted me after seeing some photos I’d taken for a friend of hers.
Aditi was hoping to get some natural photos of her son in particular, and hopefully some shots of them together. And with a lovely new house that they were settling into with lots of blank walls that she’d like to put photos on, it was a perfect opportunity to meet them in their own environment.
Before arriving on their doorstep I caught up with Aditi over a cup of tea and she told me about her little superhero Arhaan. She described his obsession for superheroes, his new room and his costumes. But also how he was a clever little boy who might feel a bit self conscious on the photo shoot. When he was younger they’d done a studio shoot and the photographer had set up lots of activities for them to do and it had become a bit overwhelming. Arhaan had asked to go home! So she hadn’t really tried to get any more professional photos since then but now that he was 5 she thought it was high time she gave it another go. She was hoping that with them all being at home things would run a little more smoothly.
Here’s what happened on the day…
We started off in the living room. It’s a bit of a funny moment when you stop the small talk, take out the camera and then take a first shot! So, I’m pretty easy going. I just encouraged them to muck around on the sofa, which from Arhaan’s point of view meant climbing on the back of it. And when I asked him to cuddle Mum and Dad it was less of a cuddle, more of a head lock, and messed up Aditi’s hair, but there were smiles all round so it was a good way to break the ice.
After a few shots downstairs we headed up to Arhaan’s room. Aditi had mentioned that from his bedroom window you could see deer sometimes so I was keen for him to take a look and point things out to me. Instead of getting him to show me, I let him take the lead and asked him to tell me about things that he liked doing. He has a cabin bed in his room, and he was happy to clamber up onto the window ledge and talk about the deer. I had the feeling that he does this a lot as he seemed very relaxed, chattering away. Although it was a lovely day outside, we didn’t see the deer, but his Dad asked him to show me the countries that he knew on the Globe, and Arhaan was quick to find India where his grandparents lived.
Obviously we couldn’t just sit still and talk about sensible things so I gave him the freedom to do what all children do best… JUMP AROUND! Especially when I challenged him to touch the ceiling. In between the chatting and jumping on the bed we were able to capture some close ups, the nearest I get to a traditional style portrait. It was great to see him relax with me.
But of course, visiting a little boy’s room can only mean grown-up conversation and small talk for a while… it’s only a matter of time before Arhaan insisted on showing me his superhero outfits and all of his superhero moves. We let him put on his favourite costume and I asked him to show me his best poses. I had a feeling that these ‘goofing around photos’ probably weren’t the ones that Aditi would want to frame and have on the wall in the living room, but Arhaan didn’t need to know that. He was super excited to have his picture taken in his outfits!
After all of that action I needed to calm things down a little (for me as much as Arhaan!) so I asked him if he liked reading. He was keen to show me the books he has to read and so we needed to do a quick outfit change. As Aditi helped him get his trousers on it struck me that this must be such a regular scene in their lives and so, rather cheekily, I snapped away. I even teased Arhaan that I would show it to the girls at school! “Noooooo!” he shouted. Although they were two of my favourite images because they were so full of character, after talking to his mum we think its best we don’t show them on here… in case any of the girls at school are reading this!
Once we were transformed back into ‘regular’ Arhaan (instead of ‘Captain America’) he was so proud to show me his books from school and insisted on reading me every single word from a book, bit by bit. There was no skipping of pages, even if his Mum tried to convince him otherwise. I think she was worried that we should be moving on to other photos or that he was wasting my time. But I didn’t mind. I sat and listened and took a few images. Taking photos of children takes a bit of negotiation and compromise – it’s not fair of me to ask him to do lots of things if I won’t sit and be a captive audience when required!
After he’d finished his book (word by word!), I asked if he sometimes read books with Mum and Dad. We went into the spare room so they could all cuddle up together. This was great way for us to explore a bit more of the house and shift the focus back onto the three of them as a family and to get a few images with Dad, Tushar, too.
And then, just as we’d finished a lovely bit of calm reading time we decided to go a little bit crazy and wrestle Mum on the bed (sorry Aditi!) but I love the photos we got!
While we’d been taking photos with Aditi and Arhaan mucking around on the bed, Tushar had been watching quietly from a little distance so I decided it was time to have some Father-Son time, and Arhaan jumped at the opportunity to show me his bike, his skateboard, his football, everything. He was off out into the garden in a flash! (Although he did get a bit angry when Daddy kicked the ball over the fence!) He was sure that Daddy had done it deliberately to give me a chance to take some different photos. I couldn’t possibly comment other than to say there’s no kidding a kid!
In between all of the action sports, I managed to take few more close ups of Arhaan and luckily he was happy to rest for a moment. He’s quite the little Skater Dude in the making.
But of course, boys will be boys, so sitting still didn’t last for long! He was soon back on the bike… and then, disaster! He fell off! Not a happy little boy!
I kept my distance and let Aditii and Tushar work their parental magic. They decided on some quiet time in their family room upstairs. I didn’t mind, I knew we had captured lots of great images already, but knowing that Aditi had originally been keen to take some in this room I asked if it was OK to follow them up. Although Arhaan was not as bouncy as he had been earlier, I manage to capture some images of him chilling out and having a cuddle with his Mum.
Finally we ended the shoot with some photos of them next to the big round feature window that overlooks the fields of deer at the back of the house.
I like to think that the photos capture a little bit more than the average studio portrait shoot and I love being able to work with people in their own home. If you’d like me to capture the story of you and your family, you can find out more about my All Inclusive Photo shoot here, or you can get in touch using the contact form on the website.