23rd November  2019

In June 2019 I started my MA with Falmouth university as part of an accredited education programme.




At the end of the last module in my feedback for my research project proposal & work in progress the feedback stated the following for LO1 Technical and visual skills – 

“Now is the time to take more control of the construction of your work explore how you as a photographer really manage that in order to delve beyond the surface off description and into the world of revelation about your subject.”


and the following for LO2 Visual communication & decision making

“you will need to experiment more with your chosen aesthetic and other techniques as well ” “This is the time to experiment within your chosen genre”



This module I have worked hard with this feedback and advice.

* I have made the switch from working predominantly in black and white, to working solely in colour, as a way to make the images less nostalgic and more connective to current audiences.

*I have experimented with utilising a broad range of natural lighting , both indoors and outdoors, this has come naturally from working in colour, the light working in a different way in colour images.

* I have experimented with my use of shadows and light as a way of conveying meaning in my images (the pressures and joys of home education)

* I have experimented with using polaroid images of the families …. this was just for fun mostly, but also to see the difference between the shots I was taking in digital, and the same shots on a polaroid film. I tried straight from my 600, and some I have also done not he new polaroid print lab that I bought to use with my phone. So here I take an image from my canon 5d mk iv , transfer it to my phone and then print it onto the polaroid paper. So comparing three different techniques really.

and I have also

* Experimented upon Pauls suggestion of taking more portrait shots of the participants of my project rather than just documentary images of the children ‘being educated’. This is what I am going to show in this post, along with what I feel worked, what didn’t, what I have learnt from this and how I plan to improve upon this next module. I will continue these photographs into next module, it has been suggested I try a 5×4 film camera for these shots next module so I am going to look into the logistics and financial constraints of this.



One thing I found psychologically really interesting about these images of , what at the start of the module, all happened to be mothers, was this mama bear stance they all took infront of their houses, like they were protecting their safe space from the intrusion of the camera, and who may be viewing those images. But ALL without fail did it from the side, with no directions from me on where to stand …. it was like there was this confluence of mama bear watching everyone with wary eyes protecting her young , but at the same time stood to the side always allowing those cubs the freedom to come and go, and grow as they wish. It’s a beautiful metaphor for home education really when you look at them like this. Some people have said, but they are just snap shots and your other images are so beautiful, anyone could of taken these…. but no they couldn’t….. because the mama bears wouldn’t of let you near enough to there caves, let alone invited you in for tea and biscuits !



The first family I did the family or parental portrait with was Saskia. It was actually a complete after thought, as I was saying goodbye, she was stood at the door, and I walked off and then turned around to take the shot as I hadn’t wanted to miss it. I didn’t influence where she was stood, or what she was doing, just took the shot where both she and I were naturally stood. Obviously the car was partly blocking the drive , but I don’t really mind this. I liked the way this images sparked an interest in me, what it would be like to photographs all of the mothers, or main providers of the educational provision. I also liked the way the kids came back to see what we were doing, being very inquisitive. It was real life.




The Second image I did like this was of Katie . Her car was parked super close to her house so barring climbing on top of it there wasn’t much I could do, as I was keen not to alter a lot in the images. That said for this shot, I did get her to stand in that patch of light that was shining in across the house. I loved the warm glow it gave and how it really bought her hair to life in the image. I also love how you can also see all the way through the house as well. Looking back, I do wish we had moved the car, but the kids were in need of their mum back at this point so it wasn’t really an option anyway.


This shot of Esther was actually a collaboration between myself and Esthers’ daughter. I set up the camera settings and held the weight of the camera for her, and she looked through the viewfinder and pressed the button. Given I used to run photography workshops for home educated children , this wasn’t out of my comfort zone at all, but it certainly was something new we bought to this project. I would love to experiment more with the way children see their own parent(s) .


This photograph of kitty and her girls was one of the only ones that I have ‘posed’ for these images. I wanted to see the change in dynamic between allowing the families to position themselves and where they would stand naturally. I actually annoyed myself with this image, as I just wanted to capture it quickly as the Spanish tutor was on the way so I just did it quickly, and really didn’t pay enough attention. I have a slightly better one framing wise that shows more of the bay window on the left, that I prefer the framing of, but I prefer their expressions in this image.


I had asked Kitty if I could take a photograph of her on her own (I am still considering the idea of doing a series just on the parents or mothers ) as this fits in beautifully with my overall practice, and as a home educating parent, it really touches home for me, this is part our story as well as the childrens stories. We adore what we do, but there is no denying we give up an awful lot to be able to give our children this way of life, or rather, we adapt a lot in our lives to give them this way of living. I love this shot of kitty. The light is beautiful, and it captures how I see her as a woman and mother beautifully. The light and shadows are great in this shot I think personally. Really drawing you in to her and her story.


Lawrence and Adele and their girls had their second photoshoot with me at their 10acre farm they started last year growing and selling farm produce to local families and businesses. I wanted to capture them and their families essence in their portrait, but in a more commercial type way to fit with the narrative of them having started a family business together, as they are all involved in the running of the farm. I think this worked really well , as they have used this image on their instagram pages and social media, as they feel the same. I also love that Adele chose her “strong girls club” jumper to wear that day, it fit in wonderfully with the story of Lawrence and these amazing females running this business together that would be predominantly thought of as a mans domain in the business world . The kids loved it at the farm and were totally at home and relaxed there. It was a beautiful thing to witness, and I think this image conveys their joy and pride in what they are creating together.


This image I took of Adele at their home when I took photos there a few days before the farm shoot. I just adore this image, the light, the textures, her stance all of it. I did ask her to turn her head towards the light because …. well …. this … She did a beautiful write up on instagram about this image and how wonderful it is to see ourselves how others see us, the beauty they perceive that we sometimes don’t in ourselves, or when we are caught up in the day to day running of our lives. It really was a wonderful thing to know you had given someone that.


Now, this is one that I have to kick myself for ! When I got to Athene’s cottage there was a beautiful dusky light, (similar to what was falling over Katie’s house) when I arrived, but instead of getting them straight outside for this photograph …. I was shattered, Athene offered me tea and digestives, and it was too hard to pass up as she was the second photoshoot that day, and sixth that week, so I was in need of that tea and biscuits ! 🙂 I love her expression and the way her palm is out in this image, it’s so warm and welcoming but at the same time conveys that feeling of “what the heck is happening” that we all have as mothers sometimes. I just wish I had gone out there when this warm welcoming light was there as well, before it went down behind the hills. That said this was after I had spent an hour or two playing with their son and learning all about his lego collection and seeing him swing on his rope swing in the front room, so he may not of been so comfortable as to take aim at me in the photograph if I had asked at the start ! 🙂


This image of Cath and her boys …. ahhhh I adore it. Technical wise, I have over exposed it at the top of the house but the sun was going down over the Cornish hills so you work with what you have. I love how their personalities come through, and the way it looks like they have a lego shop in their front room. The boys were seriously impressed when I pointed this out to them ! I’m really happy overall with this shot.


I tried a range of different focal lengths and set ups with this shot, getting them looking at the camera, looking at each other, and variations. I love Gav and Solomons interactions in this image and how Dominic on the left in snuggling up to Cath.


I really love this image of Magda. I definitely needed a high f-no thought to have them all in tighter focus. However it was such an unbelievably dark day, I had positioned them in this spot of light and even that, although the light is on magda’s face beautifully still didn’t illuminate everyone properly. The iso was up somewhere around 4000 though and that and the stop were effecting the colours, so this was as true to life as I could make it. Can’t help the weather !


Again, I really like this image of Rosi and her children. I like the fact Rosi is distracted, and her daughter is looking down, it adds to the narrative beautifully. I also really like that you can see the things like the stained glass window, and ornaments they’ve made through the windows, whilst showing the telescope at the same time. It’s a contrast that works well. I don’t mind all the plants and pots as that is their space, and it’s beautiful, but I do wish I had moved that red and plastic box in the foreground though.


I took a few portraits of Lisa, some with and some without her children . Some inside and some outside. On her landing they have this wonderful creation, where they have chalk drawn all these wonderful drawings on the walls, and I loved how Lisas hair and clothes matched the colours of the drawings her girls had done. Their house was quite dark inside,  so it was really useful that there was a window streaming in natural light at the top of the stairs as well. I actually got Lisa to stand on a little stool so that she was more in the light for this shot, plus that allowed me to get her trousers in as well, which I thought were beautiful and showed off her personality perfectly !


The second shot with her girls was one of about 5/6 I took with her with her daughters. The girls were actually bouncing on the trampoline and Lisa and I were chatting and the girls ran over as they wanted to be included in the image as well. I love how confident the girls are staring directly into the camera, and how bright and sunny they all look together, the Wendy house showing the perfection of ‘the dream’ but with the girls painted creative flare added in there ! Lisa’s expression is wonderful as well.


This is the last shot I took of Lisa, we had been chatting intently about home education and the varying techniques for about 20 mins . I actually took two photos before this but where Lisa was frowning. They are stunning shots, but she hadn’t been frowning when we were talking, she had been smiling, and we had been thick in the midst of putting the world to rights, so I chose this one because it showed the moment more clearly even though it wasn’t the first image.lisa_2


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This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.