one year in portraits

one year in portraits | January


Last year my friend Sarah shared a portrait of one or both of her daughters each week on Instagram and it’s fair to say she has inspired me to attempt one year in portraits of my own children. When I joined Instagram almost three years ago I played along with a photo-a-day challenge. If you aren’t familiar with these essentially they are hubs who list daily prompts (of a word or phrase) which you interpret as you wish to take a photo. These hubs build amazing communities around them and actually Sarah is one of the people I met through a PAD challenge. Although I enjoyed the two I joined in with, after almost a year I stopped playing along as they do involve time and planning that at the time I just didn’t have. One thing I do miss is having a project or goal. The rounding up of each months posts… And to that end, a weekly project seems like a perfect plan for me.

I have decided to share it here rather than on Instagram for a couple of reasons. I used to share photos of my children there all the time, then had a run of unpleasant comments around the time/shortly after I was on the suggested user list. With hindsight this was most likely bored teenagers who think little of the feelings of those they comment on. But you see Millie has an Instagram account and can read these comments if she wishes. I deleted them as soon as I saw them but I wasn’t going to run the risk of my children knowing this nastiness if I could help it. The final straw was a comment on a photo of Anna calling her ugly (she was 2 at the time) and I just thought, I don’t need that kind of nonsense… The other reason being (I’m a little ashamed that it bothers me) that my followers just don’t engage with my family. Ok so I know there is no reason they should when many seem to favour tea and flowers, I like them too, but it feels a little personal when followers scroll past my children. Rationally I know it isn’t and why should anyone else care, the over protective mother in me feels sad about it. There, I’ve said it, sometimes the low likes on personal images upset me.

That’s not to say that I stopped photographing my children because actually some of my favourite photos of them I took over the last year. These three little people are my world, although maybe ‘little’ isn’t quite what it used to be as Millie is almost as tall as me and that in itself is why I am embarking on this year of portraits. Currently they are 13, 11 and almost 4, I am so aware of how fast they are growing up and just how soon they will be old enough to fly the nest if they choose. My heart already aches a little about it. By taking a portrait a week I hope to capture the highs and lows, their personalities and interests as they are and as they develop. A collection of images to print at the end of the year and treasure no doubt…

So January. Week one is Millie. A play with the double exposure setting on my camera and a slightly unconventional start to a year of portraits. I kind of like it and can see that the technique requires skill and practice I don’t have but for a second attempt at double exposure I don’t think it’s too bad…

a year in portraits | humphrey and grace

Week two is Ed, and the eyes that will no doubt break hearts in a few years time… They are of the softest sea blue, well this is a fairly accurate likeness. I think this month I’m going to stick to head shots only…

Week three and we have snooooow, well for a morning at least, and so I’m throwing my urge to colour co-ordinate this post out of the window because this little person has only seen snow three times in her life and this is the first time she has actually been able to play in it!

a year in portraits | humphrey and grace

Anna’s verdict was ‘I’m cold’. So was I… She moved as I took this and was chatting as always, the perils of photographing a busy three year old, so it’s a little blurry but it is just her so I love it.

Week 4 and I’m going to use a photo from last week, for no other reason than it was snowy and I love it… So Millie, without the double exposure, with the brightest pink hat we could find…

a year in portraits | humphrey and grace

Week 5, starting the year with lots of weekends!! And now I’m feeling guilty for not including Ed in the snow so here he is… He had just been lying on the ground rolling down the hill, as you do. And might have tutted and rolled his eyes when I asked for a photo… BUT I have got a whole months portraits with their cooperation so I’m happy.

a year in portraits | humphrey and grace

OK so maybe I haven’t taken a photo each week for this post, I’m warming up with a few from one day. I am hoping that 52 photos will be enough to capture these three but have a sneaking suspicion that I might end up including a few more later on…

Julia x


23 comments on “one year in portraits | January”

  1. Brilliant idea – its so good to have a personal project on the go (I’m toying with the idea of attempting video, once the decorating is sorted…). Loving your pics – so sorry to hear about the thoughtless comments on IG – I suppose it’s inevitable, but it doesn’t make it any the less unpleasant. Look forward to seeing more xxx

    1. Thanks Zoë, I should possibly have started this a long time ago! It is a greta way to capture a year, I’m excited to see how it develops. Instagram is mostly the best place, though like anything online there will always be an element of not so nice. And that is to be expected and dealt with in whichever way feels best. It’s not bad enough to throw in the towel, I love the community too much for that xx

  2. Such a beautiful project to start and also to share Julia. And you have given me confidence as my girls never keep still and are always rolling their eyes so it’s lovely to see a blurry shot in their! And as you said it doesn’t matter if it captures them. I love that some photos are ‘so them’ .
    Thank you for the inspiration, kathy x

    1. Thank Kathy, I almost wish I had done this sooner but better late than never hey? I take a lot of blurry shots, who cares though hey, it’s impossible not to unless they stand absolutely still and then you aren’t always capturing ‘them’… xx

    1. Heehe, printing/painting, whichever, it is a wonderful thing to be able to snap so many photos and not worry about the cost of printing anything but the best! Or at least those that are in focus hey? But the old print do have a certain nostalgia of their own too xx

  3. Brilliant idea! I wish there was such a thing as digital photography when mine were young. … I have a collection of out of focus, badly coloured and poorly composed images of my two, (which cost a fortune in painting costs and film) but they trigger perfect memories

  4. Oh I feel for you and your past dilemmas. I actually started Instagram with two accounts. One to keep family and friends happy … Photos of my daughter etc and then an account for the things I like to photograph. That sounds terrible doesn’t it? Of course I love to photograph my family but at the same time Instagram was my escape and a place for me to share my love of architecture etc. Anyway, my point is – now I have one account and I post what the hell I like. It’s funny how I get less likes for personal photos and lots of likes for a single white flower. I think the bottom line is – we should all be able to do whatever pleases us, but sadly that isn’t the world we live in. And as much as I try not to let it bother me I really do care what others think. All of your images are beautiful, including the portraits of your children. Much love. Tracy x

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Tracy, it’s funny how it goes isn’t it? I actually have 3 accounts believe it or not, only use the one… I do know where you’re coming from, my account was always a happy space that was just for ‘me’ rather than the family. That said I want to include them sometimes too, just need to find the confidence again to ignore the liked or not photos I post… Funny old game xx

      1. Hope you don’t mind me commenting – I didnt want to ‘scroll on by’. I follow you on instagram – it’s how I found your blog. I am one of those people who won’t necessarily press ‘like’ on people’s personal photos. For me, I worry I’m intruding into a personal space that doesn’t belong to me. One that, as a stranger in real life, I haven’t been invited in to. But this doesn’t mean that I appreciate the art and subject any less. Social media is still comparatively new so I suppose it’s only to be expected that we all interpret it a little differently.

        1. Thanks for your comment Tracey, it’s interesting to read a point of view from the other side as it were. I guess, to my mind at least, by sharing a photo of my children I am inviting you into a space that I am comfortable to share. I understand your thought process here though and as I said in my post, I do not expect people to like everything I post, there is no obligation, that isn’t why I share. We all feel differently don’t we?

  5. What a wonderful thing to do, you really don’t notice them changing on a day to day basis but goodness they do! I don’t photograph Ruby enough and I really should I could look at her for hours! I’m looking forward to seeing it all as it unfolds over the month as they are smashing kids!


    1. Thanks so much Jane! It’s a project I should have started years ago as they just keep changing and the memories fade (well, with three of them they do anyway!! Or at least get a bit jumbled up) so I’m excited to see how this project develops. I’m also half hoping to improve my portrait photography skills… And yes, you should take photo’s of Ruby, for both you and her to enjoy xx

  6. These are all so beautiful Julia! I can’t wait to see your project unfold. I’m now determined to try double exposure too xxx

    1. Thanks Sarah! The double exposure is something I’d love to learn though I suspect it’s much more effective if you do it in editing rather than layering shots on the camera… I need to experiment more. I’m excited to see how this year develops xx

  7. What a brilliant idea, you’ll be really pleased in yrs to come, I wish I’d taken more photos of my children when they were younger. And what gorgeous children you have :) x

    1. Thank you Carolyn! I wish I’d done a project like this earlier but at least there will be one this year hey? They grow so fast. And thank you again, I think they’re gorgeous but am totally biased so your comment means a lot x

      1. Thanks Bruce! I’m hoping I can improve my portrait photography along the way… Funnily enough I have looked at Artifact Uprising several times before but the postage and customs charges for the UK make it a really expensive option.

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