Lockdown photos at home

When a family photographer can't work for weeks on end, it's time for some lockdown photos at home...

Lockdown

A week before the official UK Coronavirus lockdown started, we were self isolating at home. We were caught on the back foot a bit, without the necessary stockpiles of toilet roll and pasta. Friends dropped over food parcels (some included gin!). We felt worried. Panicked. Scared.

I wanted to capture this peculiar time and try to express how we were all feeling. So, in the beginning, I took a handful of images of my kids looking out of the windows. It felt right to look serious. The future was uncertain and bleak for many in the UK and around the world.

After a while, we got into a rhythm. I'm a list writer and planner by nature and I soon had a schedule pinned on the fridge (cue everyone else in the house rolling their eyes). We started to slow down. We slept longer and stayed up later. When it was warm over the Easter 'break', we pretended to be on holiday and we'd meet up in the late afternoon to drink coke (or gin and tonic) and play cards.  We decorated the windows with rainbows for the local children to spot. We started to go out for walks and bike rides. I calmed down a bit.

Creating

After a few weeks, I picked up my camera and started to experiment. I tried different things, like shooting indoors. I did a whole ballet shoot around the house with my son, to show how he's keeping up with his practice at home. You can see the Lockdown Ballet shoot on the blog. The images got featured on the Covid-19 related art website - United Art Gallery!

One day, whilst trying to help to my daughter with her history work, I noticed the variety of coloured books on the bookshelf in my office. I had an idea - to create a rainbow of books. Something pretty and joyful.  I grabbed an armful of books and presented them to my son. He's a perfectionist and expert on rainbows, so I asked him to blend the colours for me. My daughter, reluctantly, lay down on the itchy grass so I could take the picture (see below).

I took photos of her with the bluebells (all gone now) and learning to skate with a penny board we found under the stairs. March ended, April sped by and now it's the middle of May.

We don't know how long this situation will last. We're trying to take each day at a time and think about all the wonderful front line NHS staff and key workers out there, risking their safety every day.

I'm looking forward to being able to get together again with clients, whether it's in weeks or months, I'll be raring to go when the time comes.

More ideas

In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram to see what I'm getting up to - I've got a few more ideas that I want to try out!

Stay safe everyone.

Gem x

lockdown image of two children looking out of a window

lockdown portrait

portrait of girl with rainbow books

portrait of a girllockdown walk, portrait of a girlskater girl portrait

quarantine portraitgarden portrait of a girlsunset portraitskater girl portraits

lockdown portraitgirl looking out of the windowgirl blowing dandelionlockdown skater portraits

garden portrait of a girlgarden portrait of a girlskater girl portrait of a girl


How to shoot your own lockdown images

How to shoot your own lockdown images.

UPDATE JAN 2022

I first posted my Lockdown Ballet series of images in 2020, during the first lockdown. I'm very proud to say that it was well received by the photography community and beyond. The images were published on United Art Gallery, which was set up to showcase COVID 19 related art from around the world. Visit the United Art Gallery website to see some amazing and inspiring work from artists from all over the world.

 

The images are also now part of the online collection at the National Museum Cardiff. Plus, they were featured by British Photography Awards, Trebuchet Magazine, Juno Magazine, Royal Ballet School Newsletter and DIY Photography.

Here's the story of how they were taken:

I wanted to try and capture what it's like being in lockdown at home during this pandemic. My son is a ballet dancer and so is, of course, missing all his classes at the moment. He's been practising at home with videos from his teachers.

As I was watching him practice, I wondered whether I could do a shoot with him, dancing around the house. He's always moving. Whether it's dancing on the edge of my bedframe, on one leg, or cartwheeling across the lounge. We did a shoot together a few days ago and I thought it might be useful to share how we went about it and to help anyone that is thinking of doing their own lockdown photo shoot at home.

Here's 7 quick tips on how to shoot your own lockdown images, based on how I planned and shot these images of my son.

 

lockdown photo shoot

1. Research and planning

My son is a ballet dancer and has great natural poise but sometimes classical ballet poses need a bit of a tweak to look even better in photos. I follow some fantastic ballet photographers on Instagram - the awesome Richard Calmes and Magda Hoffman are two of my favourites and I love all the movement in their work. My son and I discussed, practiced and researched poses in advance of the session. Some things worked and others didn't. As a male dancer, he doesn't have the fabulous outfits that ballerina's wear and so we just had to work with him and his black tights. The most important thing was making sure that his 'lines' were as perfect as he could make them (taking into account his ability). No dodgy hand placements or bent legs if possible. If you want to capture a person's hobby at home, then take time to research other images in the genre. Work out what your subject can do and what they can't do. Tweak and adapt ideas to suit your subject and the environment that you have to work with.

 

ballet photoshoot in lockdown

2. Consider the setting

Doing a shoot at home is different to shooting in a studio or outside. There's a lot more general debris around a family home! I looked around my house for suitable areas to shoot (my bedroom, upstairs landing and lounge) and made sure that I cleared away any mess (the guitar, dumbbells, wet towels, paper work, abandoned socks and framed pictures). Depending on the sort of photography you like, you might like to include general household detritus. If not, then find an area that you can clear, or dress to suit your images.

 

ballet shoot

3. Outfits

Outfits for this sort of shoot are super important. I didn’t want my son to wear his usual ballet outfit, as things are different in lockdown.  I wanted a sense of informality but still needed to see his body shape properly. So, he wore his ballet tights, but with a t-shirt instead of a leotard. He wore his hair down too, instead of wearing a bun to add to the informal ‘at home’ feel. If you’re planning  a shoot at home then outfits should be a top priority. Try and avoid writing, or logo’s on clothing as well as pictures as they can be very distracting. Consider colours, textures and style of clothing and work out what you think would suit the situation. Do you want something colourful, joyful or fun? Or perhaps something more serious, classic and formal. Planning and thinking about clothing in advance will make a big difference to the end result.

 

ballet boy in lockdown

4. Find the light

I've spent a lot of time in the house lately! Haven't we all? So, I've become very aware of the light and shadows at different times of day. I knew that the sun would be shining through the lounge window, casting lovely patterns onto the carpet in the late afternoon, so I planned the shoot at that time. Look around your house, find the lovely patterns made as the sun moves during the day. Look for naturally shaded areas or bright spots, depending on what you like. You could plan a silhouette picture (shooting into the light), or use the patterns cast on the walls or floor to make interesting shadow images.

ballet photo shoot cardiff

5. Kit

I used my Sony A7iii for the shoot and chose my 35mm Sigma Art lens. I needed a wide angle lens, so I could capture him within the setting and not have to stand miles away (plus there wasn't enough room to use my 85mm!). Shoot with what you have. Use a phone if you need to! Work out in advance what you can fit into the frame before the session. I did a couple of test shots a few days prior to the actual shoot, just to work out what I could fit in and where I would need to stand.

lockdown photo shoot

6. Settings

I can't advise on what settings you should use for your shoot, as it totally depends on what you're shooting and the available light etc. I can tell you the settings used for this shoot though. For the static images, I used a wide aperture (f2.8) and a shutter speed of around 1/250. Upstairs my ISO was a little higher (400) as it was darker. Downstairs, there was more light streaming through the windows and my priority was to capture his movement, so I used a faster shutter speed (between 1/640 -1/800). My ISO was 100 and aperture f1.8.

Dance photography isn't easy. I'm no expert at this sort of thing but photographing my son over the years, I've realised it's easier to ask him to jump from standing, rather than across the frame, to make sure that I can get the focus correct. It took quite a few takes to get the images in this set. The slightest movement in the wrong direction can ruin an image. He's more of a perfectionist than me, and so won't let me use an image unless he's happy with it.

As with most things, practice make perfect, so just keep trying and learning as you go. If your images are too light or too dark or too blurry, consider your settings, change something and try again.

lockdown photo session

7. Processing

I knew in advance that I wanted the whole set of images to be in black and white. The woodwork in my house is a pale green colour and I didn't want it to distract the eye away from him so I thought black and white would look better. With that in mind I chose a dark outfit for him, so there would be contrast between him and the background. I processed the RAW files in Lightroom and did any small tweaks and cropping in Photoshop.

 

male ballet dancer in lockdown

 

Lockdown photo sessions can cover any hobby or activity. What does your child love to do? Can you work out a shoot that will show them in action? You could do a shoot showing them dancing, exercising, practising a musical instrument, painting, drawing - there's loads of options.  I'd love to see your lockdown images! Share them with me on my Facebook or Instagram accounts.

If you want to learn about dance photography - then check out Dance Photography Workshops from the fabulous Nina Mace.

Follow me on Instagram to see more of my work. Check out my work with families and local businesses in my portfolios.


Self isolating? Here's a list of local food delivery services.

A week before the UK entered official lockdown, my family went into self isolation. Although I'd planned for it, I'd tried not to stockpile anything. I didn’t realise how entirely helpless I’d feel, not being able to leave the house. So, I've written a list of local food delivery services to help anyone else in the same situation.

I’m lucky to have great friends in the area who have offered to help. We had a delivery of fresh food which felt like Christmas (thanks Paul!). But, every time I go in the kitchen I think of something else that we need and we're going through supplies quite quickly.

Support local businesses

It's so important to support small local businesses at the moment and with stocks running low in supermarkets, I've been researching local food suppliers. 

There are now many local businesses offering take away and home delivery services. I thought it would be really useful to make a quick list for everyone locally that is stuck at home and/or social distancing.

 

 

These are the ones I've seen advertising on social media (happy to add to the list if you have more suggestions). I'm sure there are lots more too.

If you’re not local, then it’s worth looking around your area to see if you can get similar services to where you live.

Note: 

It’s not a massively comprehensive list. I’ve got both my kids at home at the moment and so I’m trying to write this whilst doing a million other things as well.

 

Local pubs 

Local pubs are offering take away and delivery services. Look online to see if your local pubs are offering the same. 

The Sycamore Tree Inn, Colwinston. Offering take away and local delivery service for pub meals in Colwinston.

The Golden Mile, Corntown. Offering take away meals. Find the menu's on their Facebook page.

The Carne Arms, Llysworney. Local take away and delivery service.

The Bush Inn, St Hilary. Looking into delivery options for meals. 

Lamb and Flag, Wick. Offering take away meals, collection only, at the moment but may offer delivery in the future.

Hare and Hounds, Aberthin. Offering take away meals and free delivery within a 4 mile radius. 50% discount for NHS staff and 25% off for over 70's. Bakery coming soon.

 

Local cafes & restaurants 

Cafes are also offering take away and delivery services. 

Charlies Shop & Cafe. Colwinston. Offering take away.

The Elephant and Bun Kitchen, Cowbridge. Open Tuesday to Saturday 9 - 3, and now Sunday's 10 - 2.

Llanerch Vineyard. Offering take away meals.

The Yard. Cowbridge. Pizza takeaway and delivery.

Frolics, Southerndown. Offering take away service.

Crumbs Baguette Shop. Pencoed. We are currently delivering to Pencoed, Brynna, llanharran, Coychurch, Brackla, Bridgend and possibly other areas will be considered. We are taking extra precautions to help you feel at ease and urge customers to pay over the phone for delivery and contactless at the door.

Shampan. Cowbridge. Offering deliveries and take away. Order online.

 

 

Grocery Deliveries

The Cowbridge Food Collective. Order online and collect on a Thursday. Currently offering a drive thru facility.

Forage Farm Shop and Kitchen. Offering an online food collection and delivery service. All produce available to buy is reared and homegrown on Penllyn Estate farm, or sourced locally.

Ty Tanglwst Dairy Pyle. Offering deliveries of milk, cream, butter, honey and juice.

The Cowbridge Cook. Offering afternoon tea and cake deliveries.

Vale Cider. Offering deliveries.

Slade Farm Organics. Offering monthly meat boxes with free delivery. Next delivery is 31st March/ 1st April. Order online.

Sarah's the Greengrocers. For people who are isolated or unable to source supplies. Free delivery in Llanharan and surrounding areas most days of the week.

offering FREE HOME delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, bread, eggs, butter and sacks of potatoes. Please telephone: 01446 745138 / 07870 931427

I. G. Nicholas Butchers. Offering delivery. Order and pay over the phone.

Noble and Grape. Cowbridge. Will deliver wine. Order online. 01446 775505.

Da Mhile Distillery. Care packages - including booze, tonics, cheese, crackers, chutney. Free postage. Visit shop on the website.

Strawberry Fields, Cowbridge. Grocery deliveries.

Picketston Poultry. Free Range Duck, Goose , Lamb and Pork available. To place an order for next week, call 07815861864.

Cowbridge Farm Shop.  Veg Boxes, Fruit Boxes, eggs and potato sacks. Local deliveries.

Ogmore by sea village shop. Ogmore.  Hoping to put in place and email ordering system. Check Facebook page for update information.

 

As we all know, the situation is constantly changing and so please check before relying on any of the above suppliers. Most places are using social media - Facebook and Instagram - to update their latest offerings, so check those accounts as well as main websites.

If you can add to the list of local food delivery services, please let me know and I will amend it.

Gem x


7 easy steps to make your own photobook!

Follow these 7 easy steps to make your own photobook!

I've been making a family photobook every year since 2014 and so I've refined the process down to a few steps. As a family photographer, documenting my family is really important to me and I love sitting with my kids and poring over the memories from each year. Here's some tips to help you get your memories printed.

 

photobook tips

1. Choose your subject

Choosing to create a photobook with images of the whole year is a big undertaking. Creating a photobook doesn't have to be a mammoth task though. If the thought of organising a whole year's worth of photos is enough to make you run screaming from the computer, then why not start with a smaller task?

How about creating a book to cover the Summer holidays - your two week trip to Spain, or the whole 6 weeks of the school holiday? Or, create a book for a season - Winter walks and Christmas fun? Or, perhaps an event - a special birthday party, wedding or anniversary?

Have a think about what you'd like to include in your book before you start the project. Make sure your objective is clear before you face the hundreds of images on your phone!

creating your own photobook

2. Find a printer

There are many printing options online. For my personal creations I use Photobox but there are lots and lots of other suppliers. I can't comment on other services, as I've only ever used Photobox, for my books, but you could look at Optimal Print, Vista Print or Snapfish. Most printers will have offers on, so it's worth researching around and looking for the best price.

{Note: I use professional printing labs for my client work and the quality of the paper and colours etc are infinitely superior but for printing iphone family images, I'm happy to use Photobox}.

family photobook

3. Choose your photobook style

There are lots of different sizes and designs to choose from. It can feel a bit overwhelming scrolling through all the options. There are small books, large books, square books, hardback books, the list is endless. My advice would be to keep it simple. I choose a A4 personalised photobook from Photobox. This is hardback book with a personalised front and back cover. I choose plain white pages and use the available layout templates. I do the same thing every year so that my books are all matching and sit together on my bookcase.

cardiff family photographer photobook

4. Organise

Once you've chosen the subject of your book - a whole year, or Summer holiday etc, it's time to get organised.

I would advise creating the photobook on a PC or laptop computer instead of a phone. I find it much easier to work this way.

Choose the images that you'd like to include in the book. The best advice I can give at this stage of the process is CULL CULL CULL. It's much easier to cull out the duff images at this time than it is later on. You don't want to be wading through 300 versions of the same image, or looking at stuff that is out of focus, or uninteresting when you are designing your book (I've got hundreds of images on my phone that I don't want in my book - accidental images of my feet, screen shots of recipes, photos taken as jokes etc).

Before you upload anything, make sure you have chosen the images that you'd like to include. Do not add all of your images from your phone at this stage as it will make the process long and painful. Trust me.

It might be easiest to download all the images from your phone onto your computer and then have an evening (in front of the TV) and just go through each image. Delete the ones you don't want to include and then you're left with your final selection. Then it's time to...

 

photobook design

5. Upload

If you are just using images from your phone, then it's more straightforward. Simply choose the images that you want to include and upload them to your chosen printers website (don't forget to cull first!).

Once you've joined / logged in - create a folder and call it the name of your project - Griffiths Family Yearbook 2019 - then upload all the images into the folder.

I use images from my phone, images from my computer and images from my husbands phone - which adds an extra level of complication to the process as I have to collate images from 3 different places. If you are using multiple sources (like I do), then you can either upload the images from the different devices directly to your folder on Photobox, for example, or collate the images all into one place and then upload at the same time. I put all the images together onto my computer first, cull them and then add them all together into Photobox.

If you're just using images from your phone - they should arrive in your folder in date order - which makes it easy to add them to your design. If you're using multiple sources then you need your wits about you, as they won't all be in date order. Of course, there's the option of renaming all the images before you upload them but who has got time for that? Not me!

Once your images are uploaded, you can relax a bit. It's time to...

photobook layouts

6. Design your photobook

The worst is over! Honestly this is the fun bit. If you've culled and uploaded everything into one place, then the next bit is a walk in the park. Your mantra for this part is to keep things simple.

If you're using Photobox then you'll have two options at the start of the design process. Use 'Easy Create' or 'start from blank'.

Easy Create

Photobox offer an automated design service called 'Easy Create'. If you choose 'Easy Create', they will ask you a few questions and then automatically fill the book with the images from your chosen folder (in date order). It takes about a minute. Once it's done, you can go in a start tweaking the design (if you want to). If you're happy with the design, Bob's your Uncle, and the job is done!

Start from blank

With this option, you choose to start the design from scratch and build the book as you go. Choose a layout for each page and then drag the images into the template.

My photobooks have around 100 pages. This is quite big, but I have thousands of images that I want to include and I cram them in as much as I can. You can add pages to your design if you run out of space. A really handy feature in Photobox is the ability to take a birds eye view of the design. If you click on 'All pages' in the bottom corner, you can see all the pages. I find this really helpful if I need to add something I've missed out - I can jump back to the page I need, without flicking back and forth.

I try and keep a day or outing or event as a single page or double page spread. For example, we go to the Summertime Ball every year in London and take loads of photos. I love the simple 8 or 9 image layout options on Photobox because it means that I can have a lovely double page spread for an event where I've got a lot of images. I'll choose the 8/9 image layout for both pages and then drag the images into place. See above for an example of an 8 image spread - I had lots of portrait images from our trip to Dorset and they fitted perfectly into the template.

Each year I'll do a proper shoot with my kids and so I'll want to show these images off a bit more than my iphone pictures. For the images that I really like, I'll choose a 4 image or 3 image layout, so they are bigger and have more impact. You can see examples of this elsewhere in the blog post - my daughter in the rapeseed field or my son's ballet shoot.

There's loads of layout options to choose from. Don't panic. Just look at the images that you have (How many are there? Are they landscape or portrait orientation?) and then choose the layout that looks like it might fit best. If your chosen layout isn't working - you can change it and the images will automatically jump into the new layout. You can also use the 'Swap' tool, that will swap images around the grid if you want to change the design.

Once you've added your image to the layout template, you can zoom, flip or rotate the image if you want to tweak the design.

7. Check and order your photobook

Once you've finished designing the book, take a break. Leave it overnight, or at least go and have a cup of tea. The next part is important, so don't rush. With a clear mind, go through the book one last time. Make sure that your images are placed correctly. You can grab them and move them around within their layout aperture, so make sure you haven't chopped off someones head or hand by accident. Check you haven't made any mistakes - like adding a random Christmas image to your Summer holiday page.

If you like, think about adding text to some of the pages. I used to add dates and months and write a few captions but didn't have the patience to do it this year. It's obvious it's Christmas, I don't need a caption saying 'Christmas!'. That's my excuse anyway.

If you have any alerts or warnings, then your images might not be good enough quality for the size you've chosen.  I'm perfectly happy to print some rubbish iphone pictures if they are the only ones I have of a certain time (blurry images of my kids getting a present from Santa etc). However, you don't want a massive image that looks bad, so just make the less than perfect images smaller and group them together.

Don't forget to add your front and back cover images!

Once you're happy with the design, that's it! Click on order and celebrate!

Sneaky extra tip!

Make sure that you include images of yourself in your creations. It's just as important for your kids to look back and remember you, as it is for you to remember them! You don't need to squeeze yourself into a child's Christmas hat and jumper (but you can if you want to).

photobook design

I'd love to see the results of any books made after you've read this post - send me a message on Facebook or Instagram so I can see your creations!

Want to get some family photos for your photobook? Why not book one of my Mini Beach Shoots this year?

If you have any questions, let me know!

Gem x


JUNO Magazine front cover

JUNO Magazine Feature - Stop criticising yourself!

JUNO Magazine Feature Article

I've been a family photographer for over 14 years. I understand that it can sometimes be uncomfortable to put yourself in front of the camera. But, clients book shoots with me because they understand the importance of capturing a moment in time. Of freezing the fleeting moments of childhood, so that when life becomes less frantic, they can look back and remember. I want to capture the love in each family that I work with.  Read my JUNO Magazine feature  in the latest edition (out now!), to hear what I have to say to my hesitant or self critical clients...

"...freezing the fleeting moments of childhood, so that when life becomes less frantic, they can look back and remember."

You can buy copies of JUNO Magazine from WHSmiths, independent retailers and in their online shop.     

Read my 'You are loved' feature on page 35!

"JUNO is a print and digital bi-monthly magazine which promotes a natural approach to family life and inspires and supports parents as they journey through the challenges of parenting. We have an ethos based on conscious parenting, sustainability, social justice, non-violence and a commitment to personal growth and spiritual awareness and share fresh perspectives in this fast-paced technological world, creating a non-judgemental community for those who are keen to follow “a natural approach to family life”."

If you'd like to see more of my work, you can visit my portfolio pages and follow me on Instagram.

 

JUNO Magazine front coverGemma Griffiths featured in JUNO MagazineCardiff family photographer featured in JUNO MagazineCardiff family photographer featured in JUNO MagazineDouble page spread in JUNO Magazine

Cardiff family photographer featured in JUNO MagazineCardiff family photographer featured in JUNO MagazineCardiff family photographer featured in JUNO MagazineMagazine feature