Pinterest may yet be my downfall. Given my propensity to aim high in a “go big or go home” kind of a way, and a few spare night time hours spent clicking pretty family pictures when reading required more consciousness than I had to spare, the itch to try something beyond simply plonking the children on our laps and clicking the shutter was irresistible.
The overall plan was simple. Upton House is our favourite local National Trust property. It has stunningly beautiful gardens that fall away from an expanse of flat lawn into the valley below, a great collection of Canalettos for H, a gorgeous 1920’s kitchen complete with double Aga for me to covet, and a lake full of fish for Kitty. Elma is mostly happy just being where we are so she likes it too. We come here fairly often, usually on days when we need a run around and I just can’t face entering the scrummage of the local play parks, but we’ve visited for Civil War re-enactments, as well as Jazz, Pimms and some unofficial dancing by Kitty on the terrace. It’s the kind of place where you know you’ll find a lovely backdrop around every corner, and there’s every chance it’ll crop up in some Me and Mine photos in future months.
Well that was the big plan. The detail included remembering to bring the actual tripod, putting together a picnic with a higher than usual biscuit and white chocolate quotient, encouraging Kitty to run around for a bit before even thinking about taking any photos, and then setting up for one of those oh so charming, seemingly spontaneous, natural family moments (preferably rendered in sepia) so beloved of the repinners.
It turns out that to run at the camera, while trying to fire the remote trigger, avoid tripping over your own rather bumbly feet, get everyone in focus, hold in your Mummy tummy, and check for random strangers in the background is a bit more multi-tasking than I can manage.
But I love the results. They aren’t perfect images by any stretch of the imagination and I’ve got a gazillion outtakes all in varying degrees of poor focus, extraordinary poses, or both. They do however capture a moment, a silly afternoon of giggles and experimenting, and for me, it’s infectious; I can’t look at them and not smile.
But if I learned one thing for next time, it is perhaps that sometimes you really do need an actual real life photographer. Well that and that I bite off more than I can chew and H doesn’t believe in being subtle with the remote – but I think we both knew that anyway.
And so that we could properly see the changes in our little family from month to month, I plonked the family down on the steps at the top of a steep turf path heading straight down the hill to the lake, where Oxfordshire brick, Cotswold stone and dazzling geraniums competed for attention, for a little more of a traditional pose (and as insurance against having to deny all knowledge of ever trying to achieve anything more interesting!).
As you can see, they were thrilled:
So we mixed it up by swapping the children over.
Kitty, blonde strands long ago escaped from the pretty hairdo she left the house with, wonders when on earth Mummy is going to stop taking photographs and from where on earth this promised ice-cream is going to materialise. Don’t these people know that the shop’s in the opposite direction?
Elma, so much bigger than last month, and with so much more hair, tries to make sense of Mummy’s black box with the very chewable strap having become for once separated from Mummy, and ponders whether she could get to that rather exciting clicky thing without anyone noticing her eating it.
My little family, in August.
And finally, I have living, walking, breathing, stopping-to-admire-the-shrubbery proof that no matter how conspicuous you think you’re making yourself running around with a camera, a tripod, a remote shutter and various members of your family pulling funny faces, you really really aren’t!
(it took two more photos – and my shutter isn’t especially quiet – before they finally noticed!)