I was brought up to think photographs should be perfect - but now my favourite pictures are emotional, authentic, even chaotic…
When I was a kid my dad used to get me and my brothers to move out of the way so we wouldn’t spoil his photos. He must have taken pictures of every church in Europe, but there were very few photos of us.
I got a camera of my own when I was ten. I’d spend hours immersed in nature - just me and my second-hand Practika SLR - taking portraits of trees.
As I developed my pictures - waiting, bursting with excitement, for the first ghostly images to appear - I learned about light and shadow, details and simplicity. All those hundreds of landscape photos I took told the story - in real time - of my relationship with the landscape around me.
That time alone takes photos taught me patience. I would sit and watch - getting to know my subjects. Observing how a tree, wall or flower connected with the world around it. It’s pretty much the same photographing children!
I was completely obsessed with photography but I never considered it as a career. When I thought of professional photographers, I pictured fashion, studios, bright lights, impossibly beautiful women… with powerful men calling the shots.
None of that felt very me. But I never stopped taking photos. Travelling the world, visiting several new countries each year, I still had one thing in mind - photography.
Then I became a mum.
And, if you’re a parent reading this, you don’t need me to tell you how that changes everything.
Family life is messy. That’s how it’s meant to be.
My own, sometimes lonely, childhood made me who I am: thoughtful, resilent, artistic…
And then my own experience as a mother has shaped me yet again. Family life is never perfect but it brings us more powerful emotions than any landscape. There are no more trips to distant places, but somehow there is plenty to photograph right here.
My husband, Ric, and I moved up from London to beautiful Bollington, on the edge of the Peak District, nearly ten years ago. Our life here with our kids is outdoorsy, fun, warm, affectionate - and, above all, authentic.
I had postnatal depression twice - with our daughter, Eva, in 2010 and again in 2015 after our son, Kit was born. I can barely remember those times. Maybe that’s to protect myself. But the photos we took of our babies show us that the magic was there - even if I was too ill to see it.
I love to create images with meaning
Photography has been my constant companion in life, but having dismissed it as a career so many years ago, as a mum I could now see the true value of photography.
Yes, photos can be beautiful. But that’s not enough. A great photo also captures a moment, message or emotion. No matter where you are in your parenting journey - there are moments and emotions to capture.
Mums say to me every day they feel guilty they don’t take enough photos, and I hate that. Because mums feel guilty too often. Because I feel very deeply that life is too short for regret, I want parents to have those memories to cherish forever.
As the years go by, sometimes things fall into place
After running my photography business for a few years, I discovered that my time working in other industries was still relevant. My knowledge in marketing and branding feeds in perfectly with Commercial Photography.
But whether I’m working with families, or on a commercial project, I have the same essential approach.
Telling stories, honestly and beautifully
Above : Ellie now (not holding camera, for a change)
Below : Ellie through the years (always holding camera)