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Children shouldn't be treated like objects and sticking them on a white mat under lots of lights instantly makes them clam up

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Family photographer Jackie Cross has spent pretty much all year out in the countryside because she believes that high key and studio shoots for families are a thing of the past and encourages families to find more creative ways of capturing their brood on camera.

“Children shouldn't be treated like objects and sticking them on a white mat under lots of lights instantly makes them clam up – the beauty of good portraiture is when you can capture children’s personalities and it’s not possible to do that in a studio” says Jackie.

High key shoots, where families are placed on a pure white background under studio lighting are well known to be very expensive, especially if you want to buy a number of images after the shoot. Jackie strongly believes that families can get far better value and results from a local photographer who is more creative and can use the landscape as a backdrop.

Jackie’s tips for finding a good family photographer

1. Ask how the photographer will get your reluctant teenage son involved in the shoot.
2. Find out if they have preferred locations they use or if you can suggest a location that is meaningful to you as a family.
3. Ask what techniques they use to get the best out of photographing babies and very young children.
4. Ask if you can bring props or if they suggest you bring any.
5. Find out exactly what you get for your money – how long the shoot is and whether you get a CD of the images.
Jackie adds, “I’ve had people in trees – babies as well as grandmothers! The end result is something much more meaningful and the natural light is obviously far more flattering. When I shoot teenagers who often don’t want to be included in a family photograph, we catch them on camera with their iPhones or bikes – then they loosen up and start to enjoy the process – the key with children is to avoid them getting bored” says Jackie.

And it’s dads who often begrudge the idea even more. It’s very often mum who wants the family shoot – especially with newborn babies or children who are about to fly the nest, and Dad gets dragged along too. But once he finds there isn’t lots of staging, posing or waiting around and that he can be less formal, most people forget the camera says Jackie.

Photographing babies and young children always presents challenges but as Jackie says, the most important thing is to avoid them getting bored. Having to wave toys at a child in a studio to get their attention is really stressful for a parent and doesn’t provide the best results. Being surrounded by nature and using the landscape as a backdrop makes it far easier to capture youngsters at their best says the highly regarded photographer.

Creating something unique is particularly important to Jackie and gives another reason that she doesn’t like using studios. With the same white background, she feels that if you’ve seen one high key shoot on a living room wall, you’ve seen them all.

“Shooting outdoors allows you to create a piece of art as well as a family portrait. I often work in locations that have sentimental value. And coupled with printing on more unusual materials like aluminium and wood, you can achieve something really special” added Jackie.


Notes to editors.

Jackie believes that everyday life becomes raw material for stunning photography. Her aim is to capture vibrant, natural images, even for those who are more than a little camera shy. Jackie enjoys working out on location with flattering natural light not having the restrictions of a studio.

Jackie’s weekends are filled with fun enjoying relaxed family shoots, pet portraits, equestrian projects and running photography courses.
Jackie is based in Oxfordshire but works nationwide.

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