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Donna Duke-LLande

fine art, lifestyle and wedding photographer

Top 10 Children’s Photographer voted by A Fine Portrait.

Top 10 Children’s Photographer voted by A Fine Portrait.

Believe it or not, the only high resolution picture I have of just myself that I don’t hate was taken by a professional on my wedding day.

I’ve frequently tried to get my husband to capture an image that I don’t hate using the cameras I have at home, but I think professionals see something and capture moments in ways that are different to just any kind of photography taken by someone without that passion- my husband included.

That’s quite telling really, about the importance of photographers capturing moments of your family as they are right now. We shouldn’t just hire photographers on special occasion days, photographers should be hired to document the yearly change in your family life in my opinion. The pictures you take as a family should symbolise this precise moment in time. The fun chaoticness of the early years to that cool phase of the older years.

Of course I’m really good at capturing my own children, and have done so since they were born.

But I forgot about including myself. I think most of us can relate to that.

When I look back at photographs of my children now, I realise that I’m missing.

Firstly it was because I was often found behind the camera, but secondly because I didn’t feel like I looked good enough. I was carrying weight after pregnancies, my hair hadn’t been dyed to hide my roots and the wrinkles around my eyes made me look older than I wanted to have documented.

But how ridiculous is that? My children don’t care and they certainly don’t love that refined airbrushed version of myself that I imagine I could be with a whole lot of help.

They love their mum. All my flaws and all. Which is why I now make sure that I book yearly sessions with other photographers that I admire. It’s why I do what I do. So I can make sure that family pictures are exactly that.

It’s why lifestyle sessions are so important to me.

I want to be part of the memories my children look back on. One day they’ll be able to show my grandchildren what I used to look like- and I’m sure by then the wrinkles I see now won’t even compare to what’s laying in store for me!

One of my favourite things to do is look through old photo albums of my family from when I was little. Seeing the change from baby to adult in myself and my sister. Looking back and seeing pictures of my parents and how young they looked. Those pictures mean all the more to me now after losing my father this year. But I’ll have those pictures forever and I can share them with my children as they get older. I don’t want them to forget Grandad even though they only had him in their lives for such a short period of time.

It also reminds me how important it is to not just leave photos on a digital medium. Thats why I include prints with my sessions alongside the much wanted digital files. I know how busy life can get, and often people forget to print any of the digitals, instead just posting pictures up on social media to share with friends and family. I’m all for that of course, I do the same. But I also want to give clients something tangible after experiencing a shoot with me. Imagine if back when I was younger everything was on digital file. The albums I love now just wouldn’t exist. I want your children to have something to hold on to and love.

Photography for me is a memory capsule. That’s why I’m so drawn to it.

It’s the same reason why I adore fine art photography. It’s very niche I know but for something really special or unique to your child it’s definitely a form of art that I think is timeless. I love all the preparation that goes into creating that gorgeous piece of wall art. From the concept to the styling, to the final edit.  

Being a parent means I know the realities of working with children.  My young children are frequently my models for scouting new locations or trying out new techniques, and I can guarantee that they’re not always as well behaved as they might appear in a picture. 

But I have learnt to adapt to their needs and work at a level that they understand, so a photo session becomes fun and enjoyable. 

I don’t expect children to act and behave as anything other than children. It would be a shame to create childhood pictures without them being the individuals they truly are. And I think that’s more or less my motto when I work. Deep down I want to capture the life and spirit of everyone of my subjects, adult or child.

Click here to book a session with me.