Maddie in the daffodils - Dunsford, Devon

Daffodil photo dunsford devon

If you have not yet been to see the daffodils at Dunsford woods, it is well worth the trip! It is such a beautiful spot along the river, and the daffodils sit in a lovely clearing basking in the sun with a couple of benches to sit on. It's idyllic and ideal for a picnic. I've taken my boys on walks along the river several times where they've enjoy paddling from the little beaches or jumping in frozen puddles in the winter. But until this year, I have always missed the daffodils because I've always got my timings wrong! 

So this year, my lovely babysitter who lives out that way had been keeping a watchful eye over the daffodils for me. And I had Maddie (a dear friend's daughter) ready with her outfit. The second week of April I got the go ahead and off we went. To be honest, we were probably a bit late in the end. I reckon the daffodils may have been at their peak around the 7th April this year, which may be a bit later than usual after all the cold weather and the snow. 

Maddie had such a lovely time and she looked so pretty in the middle of the daffodils. I brought along a shop-bought bunch (or two) for her to hold and a sweet watering can for her to fill up with daffodils I had hidden all around. She loved searching for them! We all had so much fun taking these daffodil photos. 

Gorgeous vintage-style clothing (bonnet and bloomers) by Runaround Retro.

We were very respectful of the daffodils - we didn't pick any or trample them! If you would like to visit the daffodils in Dunsford wood you can follow the link to the Devon Wildlife Trust page: 

http://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/reserves/dunsford

daffodils bunch photos dunsford devon
watering can daffodils girl portrait devon
annie renwick photography
bench dunsford wood wildlife trust devon

 

 

 

My Q&A blog on Childhood Imagination

knight woodland photography session devon

“Childhood last a lifetime.”

I heard someone say this on a radio show a couple of months ago. It’s so true. The things you love, your outlook on life, your character – so many choices one makes in life are based on your childhood. Although I must admit, I’d rather be writing a blog about my latest photo shoot in a gorgeous location in Devon, or about photography tips for photographing your own children, I found this journey back into my childhood and how it has influenced my artistic choices over the years fascinating. So, for once, dare I say, this story begins with me!

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long time now, trying to pinpoint exactly which influences from my childhood have helped to shape the photographer that I am today. And as it happens, I’ve also been following an online workshop which asks questions about my childhood imagination. So, here goes:

1.     How do you see childhood imagination?

I see it as a world of great freedom, without boundaries, free to discover and to be oneself. It’s a world devoid of rules but very much based on kindness and respect. I’m still no good at following rules!

2.     What was your childhood imaginative play like?

I do struggle a little bit to remember my imaginative play. I do remember playing with my teddy bears and sewing clothes for them. But most of all I remember being outside. At heart I was an intrepid explorer, I was Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn off on my next adventure. My neighbourhood felt like the whole world when I was little. I grew up in the depths of the French countryside where I liked to explore as far as my legs (or my bike) would take me. I loved to bird watch, deer stalk, fish, swim in the rivers and ‘borrow’ fruit from nearby orchards. Once night fell, I would curl up in a cosy armchair to immerse myself in the amazing far-away discoveries made by Sir David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau. I dreamt of travelling the world and seeing all these wonderful places and creatures.

little knight, forest, dartmoor, boy portrait

3.     Has your childhood affected our photography?

Without a doubt! I love to take photographs outdoors, on location – especially on Dartmoor, it’s such a beautiful place. I find there is something so liberating about a child being outdoors, where I feel I can capture genuine and relaxed portrait. On a cold, wet and windy winter’s day, I do wish I had a studio space, but generally I am very happy to embrace the elements.

Animals often creep into my photography too. I love the relationship children have with animals. I grew up surrounded by animals and they were a huge part of my childhood. I used to believe they were my best friends and that we could understand each other.

There wasn’t a huge amount of entertainment where I grew up in the countryside, so I spent a lot of time making things, painting and taking far too many photographs on a film camera (sorry mummy!). I still have a very creative mind and I’m very much at my happiest when collaborating on a photoshoot with other creatives. It really is a lot of fun!

4.     As a child, what did you dream of becoming?

A wildlife filmmaker.

5.     Visually paint your childhood like an artist would do with a paintbrush.

It’s very rural. Midday stillness on a hot, sunny day. Fields of sunflowers and drying hay. Ripening tomatoes. Cats sleeping in the shade of trees. (And all the associated sounds and smells, which unfortunately one cannot paint.)

paddington bear child portrait station devon photographer

6.     Who are your artistic influences?

For my A Level art coursework, my two case studies were Paul Cézanne and Edgar Degas. I loved the form and textures in Degas’ work. I think a certain stillness, a moment through the times, is present in my child portraiture which I am sure has been partly influenced by these studies, but also by the stillness of all those hot summer days in France.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out a bit more about me and my photography influences. The images that I have included are photos of my boys’ imaginative play. Hopefully they will appreciate them later and remind them of all the things they liked to do when they are looking back on their childhood.

Photographing children in their own little imaginative worlds is one of the biggest privileges of being a photographer. It’s just so exciting and so much fun to be a part of! I’m always looking for inspiration for my personal work, so if your child is mad about something or you feel they have a magical little world happening, please write to me as I would love to put a series of ‘All about me’ sessions together: info@annie.renwick.co.uk

 

Tips for photographing your children in the bluebells

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The snow has melted and the sun is shining in Devon – it feels like Spring is finally on its way. We’re having a bit of a garden overhaul at Annie Renwick Photography HQ. We have been slogging away removing boulders, thinning out trees and pulling roots up to create new flower beds to give our garden more of a ‘cottage garden’ feel. It’s pretty much still a big mess until we get everything in the skip at the end of the month, but the flower beds are ready and we’ve been so excited to get all sorts of perennials planted recently. I must share some photos when everything is in bloom because it promises to look gorgeous.

Anyway, amongst all the digging I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the bluebells emerging. Bluebells really are a great British phenomenon and we seem to celebrate their arrival every year by going for walks and picnics in our favourite bluebell spots. And dare I say, the obligatory photos of our children in the bluebells.

So, I thought you may find a few tips on how to best photograph your children in the bluebells useful.

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Find your location

Everyone has their favourite bluebell location. However, there are a few things to look out for when selecting the best spot for taking portraits of your children amongst the bluebells. Bluebells usually grow in woodland areas which means that there isn’t a huge amount of light available. Also, where the light shines through the trees in the winter months it creates patches of bright light. You want to try and avoid these patches. You can do this by either photographing in the bluebells early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun isn’t directly above you and is also a bit softer. Contrary to what you may think, cloudy days are also very welcome as they provide soft even light and make the colours pop more.

Here are a few of my favourite spots on Dartmoor, where I am based:

·      Whiddon Deer Park near Chagford

·      Lustleigh Cleave, especially near Heaven’s Gate

·      East Hill, near the Okehampton army camp

·      Emsworthy Mire near Haytor (Wildlife Trust)

·      Holwell Lawn, to the back of Haytor

Other locations I’ve visited with gorgeous bluebells are Buckland Abbey and Killerton (both National Trust), Lady’s Wood in South Brent (Wildlife Trust) and Hardwick Wood (Woodland Trust). I will do more exploring this year and add to this list if I find some exciting new spots. And please feel free to share your most magical bluebell spots with us too. 

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Find the best light

You also need to consider where to place your children within the bluebells so that the best light falls on their faces. When I’m looking for my bluebell locations, I try to find an area of open woodland rather than tighter spots. You will want to place your children with their backs to the denser woodland and their faces towards the open area so that they are well lit. If this is making little sense to you, you can do a couple of things to find the best light. Ask your child to stand in one spot and gently turn in a circle as you follow them around. In bad light, their skin will look greyish but when you find the good light, their skin should glow. When you think you have found the good light, look into your child’s eyes for a little catchlight. The best way to describe it is like a little sparkle of light where they are catching the light from the sky or a brighter area in front of them. Portraits with catchlights always have an extra bit of magic to them!

Emsworthy Mire is a fabulous place to photograph your children in the bluebells as it is a vast open meadow, so if you photograph early in the morning or at sunset, you have so many light airy options without worrying too much about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ light. 

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Look for great angles

It can be trickier than expected capturing a great portrait in the bluebells, and as we don’t want to trample all the flowers we can sometimes be limited to pathways. My best tips are:

·      Sit your children down on a path, a log or a little chair (get them to snuggle in close to their siblings or give them something to hold if they are alone). By sitting down they are getting closer to the flowers. You can also use the path as a good leading line.

·      Photograph down low. This will make the pathway disappear and make it look like they are sitting in a sea of bluebells. You will also be able to capture some out of focus flowers in the foreground which will give your photo a dreamy feel.

·      Photograph from up high to exclude distracting objects in the background and include just the flowers that surround them. 

·      Include movement – if you have girls, ask them to twirl in their dresses. 

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Clothing and styling

This is SO important. Don’t underestimate how much of a difference clothing and styling can make to your final image. You’re looking for harmony or contrast in your photographs. Below are some colour ideas to create harmony in your portraits - think creams, pastel pinks, greys, different shades of blues. For a nice contrasting pop, use a bright yellow/ochre colour.

For girls, long swishy dresses or tutus are great. It’s often colder than expected during the bluebell season so take plenty of warm clothes to warm up or wear little wool cardigans or faux fur gilets to add layers and textures. Be sure to dress littler ones warm enough otherwise they will not cooperate, especially if it’s damp too! It can be quite wet underfoot, so wear wellies or going barefoot works too! For boys, beiges with braces look very sweet, and other accessories, such as hats or scarves work well. Or create a more casual look with a pair of jeans and a shirt.

For inspiration, you may find my Pinterest board helpful: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/annierenwick/bluebell-inspiration/

bluebell colour scheme clothing styling inspiration photos

Timing is key

It’s very difficult to know when the bluebells will be in flower, and unfortunately it changes every year depending on the weather conditions. The only way is to be on bluebell watch and try and catch them within the first couple of weeks of flowering when they are looking their best.

Bluebells are protected

And please remember, bluebells are protected flowers. I often like to give bluebells to my little models to hold, which I pick from my garden before the session. If you don’t have access to bluebells and you would like your children to hold some in their photos, you can easily find artificial bluebell bunches online.

I hope you have found these tips useful. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have if it doesn’t quite make sense or I’ve forgotten to mention something. However, if the thought of organizing your children and having to photograph them is all a bit overwhelming, I will be holding a limited number of bluebell sessions throughout Spring. Please let me know soon if you are interested as these will get snapped up quickly. info@annierenwick.co.uk