It was a real honour to be asked to a Guest Judge and Featured Artist for the photography community ‘Snap Love Grow’ last month. Their Facebook group has been a huge source of inspiration for me and several of my images have been featured on their weekly blogs.
I chose the theme ‘Monochrome’, which is definitely my happy place as far as photography is concerned. Over 150 images were submitted from around the world and it was so hard to choose my favourites, especially knowing what it’s like to be on the other side of the process! You can see my final shortlist and my reasons for choosing the winner here http://www.snaplovegrow.com/single-post/2017/04/04/Featured-Photographers-Monochrome. They also ran a feature on my work which is copied below. It includes five of my favourite personal images and it was lovely to have an excuse to share some of the stories behind them! The full version is here http://www.snaplovegrow.com/single-post/2017/03/31/Spotlight-Featured-Artist-Anna-Bradley-Photography.
Anna, tell us more about yourself …
I am a fine art and family photographer based in Buckinghamshire in the UK. I was first given a camera when I was about 6 or 7 and learned to use it from my dad, following him around taking pictures of steam trains! It’s been a lifelong hobby but it wasn’t until 2015, when I gave up my job as an English teacher to be at home with my three young children, that I started to take it more seriously. Most of my work focuses on my own children and family life but I am also starting to take on a limited number of client bookings each year.
Nearly all of my images are taken in very ordinary places and record very ordinary moments – using natural window light at home, in the garden or on the street outside. Even when we are out for the day or on holiday I am much more likely to be drawn to the details – windswept hair, sandy toes, the way the light catches a plant or casts a shadow on a table – than take pictures of famous buildings or landscapes, however beautiful they are. Most of all I want my children to have something to look back on that shows them just how much they were loved, something that seems especially important on days when I am not finding being a mum very easy!
It’s so hard to choose just five favourite pictures but these are the ones that are closest to my heart right now. Interestingly they are all in monochrome but I do edit in colour as well!
This is a relatively recent image and I chose it because it epitomises everything I love about black and white photography, especially the dramatic contrasts between light and shadow. I was aiming to focus on my youngest son’s hand as he drew on the easel but in the end it was this one, with the focus on his face and the blackboard, that I loved the best. The emotions are also fairly bittersweet as we are currently undergoing renovations to our house and the room where this was taken has now been demolished. It’s a reminder of how quickly both people and places change.
This portrait is also of my youngest and was taken on holiday in the South of France last year. We were staying in a little beach cabin and I took a range of different angles as he played in the sand outside. It was pure luck that he looked up like this just as I pressed the shutter. I love his unguarded expression and those liquid eyes! We are going back to the same place this summer and I am really excited about taking the camera again!
I’d tried setting up a picture like this a few times but had never managed to get it right. In the end I got this one while my daughter was eating her tea (a good way to get her to stay in the same place for a while!) There are patio doors behind where she sits and because it was early evening the light was nice and soft – I just needed to darken down the background and remove a few distractions in post. It’s a favourite because it sums up how she was just before her fifth birthday – ragged pigtails with those baby curls at the back always escaping, and still in her leotard after her ballet lesson.
I’ve had mixed responses to this image but it remains one of my favourites and is also one of the first where I felt I was starting to find my voice. It was just before bedtime and my daughter had already been called in but when I found her playing like this I couldn’t resist taking a few frames first! The washing out to dry is such a timeless symbol of motherhood and its endless chores (and the dress she’s wearing had to be put away after this as it was covered in paint and grass stains!) This was also the first of my images to be featured by Snap Love Grow, as part of the ‘Beautiful Chaos’ theme last year!
I tend not to pose my children for portraits but occasionally I will ask them to stay put if the light is right and this is what happened here. My eldest had just come back from his first cross-country race for his school which is why his fringe is damp. We have a small high window in our bathroom and I was crouched on the loo while he looked up! It’s a reminder of a couple of hours of fairly rare one-on-one time and I love that there are still remnants of his baby cheeks, even though he is now 8. I find that I am gradually taking less pictures of him as he gets older and so ones like this are really special!