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The importance of family photographs

These are the Gladwin children whose parents brought them into my Caistor studio recently for a family shoot and some individual portraits. Each time I photograph someone’s children I am reminded  just how important it is to photograph my own too. It is astonishing to see how much my son has changed in the last two years since leaving primary school and large framed shots of my two blown up and hung around the house are a daily reminder. No longer my “little boy” my son is now taller than his mother and rapidly gaining of me. His voice has broken and his shoulders broadened and not just physically. Meanwhile my “little girl” is now an 18 year old woman. How did it happen so quickly?

Of course the children themselves don’t necessarily understand or appreciate all this attention in front of a camera and some will hide their blushing faces in 25 years time when they are inevitably produced at a wedding speech. But consider this; their own children and grandchildren will be fascinated and thrilled to see high quality imagery of their parents as children. I recently found one of only a few pictures that I know exist of my father as a young boy. It was taken in a studio and he is holding a cricket ball. It is both evocative and touching. He would probably disagree but I think it is superb and thank goodness my grandparents convinced him to stand that day for a photographer in a Scunthorpe studio. Crucially, the only way to “own” an image then was as a print and it survived all these years because it can be held and framed. I am often boring everyone in earshot with my predictions for a lost era of photography. That era is now and it is all because of the digital revolution. It is reckoned that 10% of all photographs ever taken were in the past year. Facebook already hosts an incredible 140 billion photo’s. Maybe you think they are safe on Facebook. You do back-up your Facebook page regularly don’t you? And archive a separate copy? And of course you regularly sync your iPad to iTunes and keep separate copies. You do have at least three copies of your precious family snaps on storage devices you can still access don’t you? None lurking on an old phone, laptop, floppy disc, zip drive, SCSI drive? Do you keep moving them to new media as the old technology become obsolete? Even NASA had to search the world for the last projector that would play the original film of the lunar ladings. Nobody thought.

Back to earth, if you don’t print your family snaps who will? How will your children know where to find your cloud based box of pixel memories (assuming the server doesn’t lose them or go out of business) and will they have the passwords and authority to access them? The print of my father survived because it was cherished and because it cost money and was seen as an investment. Whether or not you occasionally invest in a professional photographer to take quality portraits and produce proper prints you can actually touch, you must print up your own family snaps and store them even if you prefer to browse them on your TV or tablet.

The Gladwin children, below, have all been printed using a Mocha tone to the same 30×24 inch size with a digital film border. Each border is slightly different but all have been framed in a modern pewter moulding to be hung together on stairs. What better place to see daily how they grow-up? The final shot is a less formal, fun montage which has been framed using a modern box frame. They were all shot on a £5000 camera body with a £1200 lens and professional lighting by an experienced professional (me) but most importantly they exist because their parents saw the long-term value in employing me just as my grandmother did when dragging my six year old father to the local studio.

If you are interested in commissioning me for family portraiture please call the Michael Powell Photographer Studio on 01472 859666 or email me above or at