About the author: Jane Burkinshaw is a professional photographer and passionate about all things photography related. Jane specialises in portrait photography and runs photography courses.

Family photo shoots for precious lasting memories

Gosh I really am late posting about this fantastic photo shoot aren't I?! You can probably tell from the thick carpet of leaves that this was shot in the Autumn (early November 2016 actually). 

I've been meaning to share the images for ages as all the elements came together to produce some gorgeous images; the sun was shining and gave us one of those crisp autumnal days that drives us out into the fresh air, seeking leaves to kick around. And the afternoon light was stunning, flattering and kind to faces and creating golden backgrounds.

This family of five are enjoying some of their last years as a unit dwelling under the same roof. Soon the eldest daughter will be off to university, followed in a few years by her younger siblings. It was the perfect moment to capture them all together and create some lasting memories.

To find out more or to book your family photo shoot contact me (Jane) for a chat.


Kids portraits are helping me get to Kenya!

The children I've photographed so far to fundraise for Kenya.
Towards the end of May 2015 I am going to Kenya with other volunteers to work in three schools in one of the poorest regions of Nakuru, near the Great Rift Valley. The trip has been organised by Derby County Community Trust and African Adventures, both of whom have been sending volunteers to the region for several years.

I am with a group of 45 volunteers, including my sister-in-law Debbie and her sister, Caroline. As a latecomer to the party I had to raise £1400 very quickly to fund the trip. I decided to offer some mini portrait shoots at a specially discounted price and give 80% of the total made to the charity. I'm really pleased to say that there was such a great take up on the mini shoots that I reached my target in just 4 weeks, with some generous donations from my brothers too.

It's been a real joy to photograph so many children in such a short space of time and it made a really nice change to photograph indoors, using my new natural daylight studio.

Special thanks have to go to my niece, Lucy, who was the first to take me up on the offer and then shamelessly promoted it to her friends! These are Lucy's lovely kids - my great niece Bella and nephew Joe (I'm feeling very old now!).

Bella and Joe

I'm going to post about my adventures in Kenya, obviously with lots of photographs, so I hope you'll follow the blog.

I am a natural light photographer, specialising in children's and family portraits and commercial photography. I have a purpose built natural light studio in the heart of rural Cheshire and I also work on location. Take a look at my portfolios and if you'd like to have an informal chat about booking a shoot please get in touch.

How to to take great summer photos - TIP 3 (Cheshire photography course with Picture It Big)

With all this gorgeous sunny weather this one will be very useful for you:


Lovely weather makes us all feel happy and we go to lots of events where people are enjoying themselves in the sunshine - the perfect time to take photos of friends and family. But actually the bright sunlight makes it difficult to get good shots. People's faces can be hidden in dark shadows or they are squinting into the sun.

Shade creates the perfect light conditions for photographs, so if you can, ask your subject to move fully into the shade and make sure there's no bright sunlit area in the background. The contrast between the shade and the brightness tricks the camera and can still make your subject too dark. So a fully shady area. Make sure your flash is switched off as you want to make the most of the lovely even light.

In this shot Abii is shaded by a covered seating area and the light is coming from the left
Sometimes you can't move people into the shade so if you want a shot without dark shadows on faces then switch your flash on. Use the "Forced flash on" setting which is the lightening symbol without the A for automatic next to it. This will light up the dark areas on your subject's face. The effect is not as nice as shade but much better than without flash.

When you use flash stand at least 1 metre away and no further than 3 metres away.

Watch out if people are wearing hats that shade their face. Flash can help but ideally push the hat back a bit or take it off. Also if they seem to be squinting because the sun is behind you, move so that they don't have to face the sun so directly.

Eve with hat shading her eyes

This is much better!
Simples! You can apply all of this to animal portraits too of course! These guys were very obliging when I asked them to take their hats off and move into the shade. Such posers!
By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!


How to to take great summer photos - TIP 2 (Cheshire photography course with Picture It Big)

OK, today's tip is a great one:


I hate standing and having my picture taken! I don't know how to stand, what to do with my hands and I'm convinced I'm going to look embarrassed and awkward - and I did!

Until, that is, I learned to pose people myself and now I feel much more comfortable. I hardly ever stand if anyone wants to take my picture - I lean or sit because I know I feel so much more relaxed and I look at ease.

Izzi looks very relaxed in front of the camera

And again here she is looking chilled out sitting down

This really works and results in lovely natural shots. Keep talking to the person you are taking a photo of and don't take ages! Sort your camera settings out first and then get them to pose for you.

This is a great pose and has resulted in a lovely shot of Sam

In the shot above of Izzi and Abii, they look very relaxed but also this shot works because there is a lovely vibrant background behind them and also they have put their heads close together. This would work well cropped in tighter around their heads and shoulders too.

And here's a pic that Abii took of Izzi on a compact camera - I did an edit on it for her but what a lovely shot - by a 12 year old!

So there you have another very simple but really effective tip! Look out for tomorrow's on the blog!

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

How to to take great summer photos - TIP 1 (Cheshire Photography Course with Picture It Big)

Summer is here (for the moment) and if you're anything like me you're making the most of it whilst it lasts. As I've browsed Facebook I've been seeing lots of pictures taken at the beach, at picnics, barbecues, out on bike rides and walks. They've inspired me to put together 7 top tips for sizzling summer shot.

These tips are for anyone who uses a point and shoot compact camera or camera phone whilst out and about enjoying the lovely weather. I've kept things very straight forward, there are no tricky settings*

So - here's Tip 1


  • Stand with your feet hip width apart, flat on the ground. If you are kneeling, sitting or lying to take the picture always make sure you are stable on the ground i.e. sat on both buttocks, leaning on both knees or both elbows instead of just one.
  • Hold your camera / phone with both hands, taking care not to have any fingers over the lens or flash.

    Girl looking through view finder of camera
    Izzy looking through viewfinder of compact camera
  • Tuck your elbows in at your sides - whether you're using the little viewfinder or the larger LCD screen. It's tempting to hold the camera with arms held out away from the body but this makes you much less stable as you take the picture.
Abii keeping her elbows tucked in whilst using the large screen on her phone to take a picture.
  • When you actually take the picture, stand nice and still and squeeze the shutter or touch the onscreen icon gently - don't stab at it as this can jerk the camera.
  • If it's dull where you are taking the picture, lean against a wall or column. But make sure its solid - my dad leant on a grandfather clock in a store and knocked it over - but that's another story!
This may seem like basic stuff but it all makes a difference. Tomorrow we'll look at how to take great pictures of people on bright sunny days - it can be trickier than it first seems!

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

The 3 "P"s of photographing toddlers

In 2010 I took Katie and Alice's portrait in their home and within a very short time had some picture perfect images of them sitting side by side in party dresses. Dad received a framed picture for his birthday and was, by all accounts, thrilled to bits. One year on and Mum, Tina, wants to mark his birthday again with a more up to date picture of their twin girls. Now, there's one major difference between last year and this - those girls are now toddling! When I arrived they were prettily dressed in matching tops, posh trousers and bows in their hair. Now I had more than a sneaking suspicion that things weren't going to progress as smoothly as last year - after all I've photographed a few hundred toddlers and have begun to understand the species quite well. I was under no illusion about the challenges I faced in trying to capture that perfect moment when two toddlers beamed at me, at the same time, whilst standing or sitting closely together. Once in a blue moon it does happen, usually when I'm changing lenses or catching my breath!

But let's come back to some sort of reality (and normality - I don't want mum to think that her girls are out of the norm!) when dealing with toddlers. They truly define the expression "a law unto themselves" in every sense. Whatever you think they're going to do, you can bet it will be the opposite. They cannot be directed, positioned or posed. Reasoning, begging and pleading fall on deaf ears. Distraction can work but you have to be prepared to work like greased lightening.  I usually enlist the help of mum, dad, nanna and older siblings to act like complete lunatics in order to get a toddler's attention and to earn their smiles and laughter. But remember that we're talking double trouble here and you can guarantee that whilst one child is beaming beautifully at the camera, the other has got closed eyes, hand in mouth or finger up nose! I sometimes use bubbles to get them to look upwards but that usually ends in complete chaos as you can't expect any self respecting toddler to sit quietly and admire the bubbles - where's the fun in that?!

Many of my clients want that dream shot of their beautiful children, smiling together with scrubbed, shiny faces and best party outfits. And if you're lucky and the wind is blowing in the right direction and the gods are smiling down on you then you just might get it. And as kids get older and respond better to bribery and cajoling it becomes much easier. However,I try to persuade parents of babies and very young children that it's better to forget trying to stage manage the shoot, forget Pears Soap portraits and concentrate on photographing toddlers being toddlers. They are absolutely wonderful creatures, fascinated by and engrossed in the world around them. Walking and running is a novelty - they don't care where they're going just as long as they can do go there without being stopped. Toys are great but they'd pick puddles, mud and sand any time.

I hope mum and dad like the photos - we did manage to get a few of the girls smiling side by side (albeit fastened down in their high chairs!), but I will always prefer the portraits of Katie and Alice as they raced around the farm yard, splashing (and sitting) in puddles and bouncing around in glee on the trampoline!

Oh and the 3 "P"s of photographing toddlers - Patience, Perseverance but above all Play.Posted by Picasa

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!

I have around 55,000 images in my picture library. If I assume that around 50% are work related that leaves 22,500 personal images taken since I got my first digital camera back in 2002. Forgive my shaky mental arithmetic but that works out at about 2,500 per year, or just over 200 per month on average... that actually feels quite reasonable, especially when I consider that I took 360 pictures on our recent holiday in Cape Verde. However, it would be an exhorbitant and quite impossible number if I was still using a film camera - imagine the cost in films, developing, postage or bus fare.
I guess that I could be considered a hard core user when it comes to my photography habit. Strangely enough I am often the only person with a camera at many social occasions, although increasingly less so these days. I feel bereft if I leave the house without at least one camera and am convinced that I will miss a golden opportunity - that once in a lifetime shot. Indeed it is a mantra and firm belief of mine that good photography is as much about opportunity as it is about knowing your way around a camera. Quite simply, it's often about being in the right place at the right time WITH YOUR CAMERA AT THE READY. But I'll save that lecture for another blog and endeavour to keep on topic, which, in case it's not yet apparent, is why do we take so many photographs (some of us admittedly more than others)? I'm excluding professional photographers, myself included and have my personal hat on.
The affordability and accessibility of digital photography has completely changed the way we take photographs and enjoy them. Photography is no longer confined to special occasions and holidays but is a part of our everyday life - a picture snapped on a mobile phone is uploaded onto Facebook in seconds for thousands to view and enjoy. When did someone last show you a dog eared photo of their beloved child or pet from a wallet? I'll bet it was displayed on a phone or IPOD. 
The digital age has changed our relationship with photography but I don't believe that the underlying emotional need has altered. We just do more of it for the same reason - and for me that is to freeze a moment in time, capture it and make it into something more tangible than a fleeting memory. Equally as important is the need to then share that moment with others. And as time goes by, those images of moments that were important enough to us to photograph become increasingly more treasured and special, because the memories fade and cannot possibly retain all the details.
The collection of photographs shown here are all taken from my childhood and represent just about all the pictures of me upto the age of about twelve. Baby photographs are conspicuous in their absence - my mother died when I was around 9 weeks old and photography probably wasn't top of mind for my poor dad. Despite that I am still struck by how few images there are, but this is probably not that unusual for the era (1965-1977). After this period I know there are many more photographs still in my dad's possession - he was a bit of  a gadget fiend and was (and still is) a keen photographer. But this handful of pictures is extremely valuable to me - I see things I couldn't possibly remember and without photography those details would be lost forever. The picture of my mum is one of only 3 that I have, sadly there are none of her with me. What I also find interesting is how much the line blurs between what we think we remember and what we are actually remembering from photographs. Our memories of smells and how things felt are often more accurate than of things we saw. I can remember how the big old sofa in the living room felt both velvety and rough and had soft gold fringes around the cushions but I can't remember sitting on it with my brothers and a ball bigger than me!
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By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I'd love to hear your comments too!
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