Today I am lucky enough to have Laura Jenkinson from Ticking Stripe Photography on the blog. If you don’t already follow her on Instagram, you really must, her photos are just beautiful and very emotive. She has worked with some fabulous brands including the whimsical children’s clothing site Elfie London and is just about to shoot for the magnificent Milou and Pilou. I don’t know about you, but I find it so difficult to get a genius picture of my two. They may be doing something magical that I really want to capture and then the instant the camera is out Daisy goes into some crazy pose and Bob runs off and hides! However, Laura seems to make it look easy, so I caught up with her to ask her to share some of her secrets…
What would you say are the key features of your photography style?
I think that connection is one of the main ingredients of my photography. When I’m photographing
children, particularly when I haven’t met them before, I always take the time to talk to them and find
out about them.
Watching them as we chat, I look for little details and gestures that I want to capture in their
portrait. It might be the way their nose crinkles when they are laughing or how they fiddle with a
lock of hair whilst they are thinking of an answer.
Even when I’m capturing portraits of my own children, whose faces and features I could trace
without looking, I still try to see something new. Something that sums them up at the moment, their
connection with one another or a characteristic that is coming to the fore. For example, my
daughter, who has just turned twelve, is really on that cusp between childhood and the teenage
years. She can still be wonderfully unselfconscious at home but increasingly I am getting glimpses
of her future teenage self and the person she might become. I’m finding this transitional stage
equally fascinating and daunting. I think that’s exactly what is so compelling about photography
and what appeals most to me, that ability to preserve these fleeting moments in time.
I would say that nostalgia is another element that has a huge influence over my style of
photography. Whenever we visit my parent’s house, I am drawn to the cabinet where they keep all
their old photo albums and can spend hours looking through the piles of 1970’s vintage toned
prints. I love to think of my children doing the same, remembering details of their childhood and
letting the photograph transport them back to that time and memory. Trying to capture the essence
of those years, documenting everything from their grazed knees and gap – toothed smiles, to the
imaginary worlds and kingdoms they inhabit – it’s all part of it.
What other factors are important?
Well, of course light and location are key too. It’s amazing how the same location can be
transformed by the light and the different seasons. Observing those changes and responding to
them can really transform the images you take.
There is a particularly beautiful woodland area near where I live in Sussex, which gets shrouded by
a carpet of bluebells in the Spring and has the most gorgeous, hazy, dappled light in the Summer.
But I’ve discovered that dusk is in fact my favourite time to visit with my camera. As the sun sets,
the light in the woods becomes so much more diffused and atmospheric … and it’s also the time
when you are most likely to encounter a deer.
There is nothing staged about your images. Do you prefer a natural more documentary
Yes definitely, natural and candid photographs are always more endearing to me. I like real life,
observing and capturing authentic moments. Some of my favourite images have been taken when I
have truly been able to blend in, to go unnoticed. I think that is when photography can take on a
cinematic quality, when a real and believable scene is happening and you are there to record it. If
you can help whoever you are photographing to feel entirely at ease, be completely themselves –
your portrait will have a certain energy and be a true genuine reflection of them
Have you always been a photographer?
No, before I became a photographer, I worked in children’s television and then as teacher for many
years. It wasn’t until I had my own children that I started to take a real interest in photography. In
some ways, I wish I had found photography earlier, but in fact the careers I had before have
shaped who I am, the way I see things and have given me so much experience working and
interacting with children.
So, what are your top tips for photographing children?
For little ones, I would say, have an endless supply of snacks ( I always have those mini boxes of
raisins and some fruit bars in my pockets!)….oh and wet wipes, always need those.
Turn the shoot into a game or an adventure. I sometimes make up a funny story about the place or
set them a nature challenge (e.g. first one to find a red leaf, something smooth or spiky etc)
Don’t be afraid to try shooting from a different angle. It is amazing how just from getting up high
(perhaps standing on chair, looking down) or crouching down low, the image can be transformed.
Stand back and observe. If there are a group of children and they are playing, don’t feel tempted to
direct them, just try to capture their interactions and fun
Older children can be more self conscious in front of the camera. I often give them the opportunity
to do some of the art direction, look around a location together and get them to suggest what
might be a good back drop. Perhaps get them to try an action shot, jumping or climbing so that
they are less aware of the camera.
If it’s a headshot or close up portrait, sometimes children can look a bit rigid. Holding something in
their hands, (such as a ribbon, small toy, button etc), seems to noticeably relax their shoulders and
Lastly, look out for the details – capturing those little mannerisms and gestures will really help to
bring your photographs to life.
I have loved all these ideas and next time Laura will be sharing some of her top tips for editing photos.