I was going to use some of our pictures from Spain for my Me and Mine this month, but I thought better of it. Mainly on the grounds that in all of our family group photos from Spain, I’m wearing not only the same clothes on both days, but also the same clothes as August’s Me and Mine photo, and the same top as July’s photo.
What can I say, I really like that top! But I promise I do own more clothes, and did not spend July, August and a week in September wearing the same clothes, at least not without washing them frequently.
When H came home early on the day before Kitty’s birthday to help with the last minute bits and bobs and her birthday portrait photo shoot it was too good a chance to miss, so we packed tripod, remote and copious chocolate buttons as well as that all important giant pink three balloon .
But that makes this the first month since we started taking Me and Mine photos that I have a choice, even if it was an easy choice to go for these photos. It seems like perhaps the impulse to take family photos is starting to become ingrained with all of this practice. I’d decided before we went to Spain that I wanted to take some group shots while we were there, and not necessarily for Me and Mine, mostly because I wanted to have photos of all of us together.
And so I do. As well as my Me and Mine pictures, this month I have photos of the four of us on the battlements of Vejer de la Frontera (as taken by Grandad), of all of us in a golf buggy (also by Grandad), and a grainy evening photo of all six of us together on the terrace of a hotel in Conil (by remote trigger). It’s becoming second nature to see a white marble raised flowerbed or the seat of a golf buggy and think what a good tripod it would make, and I’m gradually getting the hang of the remote trigger and of composing a photo that I can’t actually see.
Perhaps this is going to be the most lasting benefit of Me and Mine; that in challenging myself to take twelve pictures of our family throughout a year I’m getting wonderfully and willingly pulled in to taking so many more.
We had a lot of fun taking Kitty’s birthday pictures; she was in seventh heaven with a balloon only a smidgen shorter than she is, although I swear I’m not doing a shoot like that again until she turns eight. Or eleven. The number of outtakes I have where that three is a determined “E” would try the patience of a saint, and I’m certain canonisation is not in my future. But the results are worth all of the effort.
And so we turned to our Me and Mine photos, fortified by chocolate all round. Kitty loves the Elephant Circle in Jephson Gardens, and as that Friday, well that whole week really, was all about cherishing and celebrating our eldest girl, that’s where we headed.
Because of course, elephants are the first thing to come to mind when you think about rural Warwickshire. Truly, truly elephants used to live in Leamington. In the 1840’s Heigler’s Equestrian Circus was based here, and when they weren’t on the road, their elephants lived in a building in the centre of town.
The Elephant Circle is part sculpture, part bench; the three elephants and their boy were originally higher up the town by the old Elephant House to remember the circus’ part in local history, but when the shopping centre was expanded they needed to be moved and so they came down to the gardens by the river to overlook the place where the real elephants used to come to wash each day, and the concrete circle was built around them.
It’s perfect for tiny people to run around, and play at riding an elephant or two, and so it seemed ideal for a family portrait, to encapsulate memories not only of our afternoon running around taking these pictures, but all of the other trips to the park; from picnics with friends and their children under the trees earlier this summer, to visits in the winter when the fountains in the lake cascaded down onto snow on top of ice, and all the other ordinary runarounds in between.
My little family, in September.
And as no Me and Mine would be complete without a favourite out-take, I present “my family, when asked if one of them would mind very much getting in shot so that I could set the focus”!