“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”
— Aaron Siskind
It can’t just be me that thinks photographs are so special. I’ve always loved them. In fact, when I was about 11, I won a regional photography competition with a picture I took of our family cat, Fifi, sitting on a bean bag – yeah, I know, just call me Annie Leibovitz…
Then, when I had kids, it all of a sudden seemed even more important to take a billion pictures. Pictures of their little hands and feet, baby eyelashes and little sleeping pouts – knowing how much they change and how quickly you forget all those little details. I still have pictures of Oscar as a little baby that we look back at and say “do you remember him looking like that?!” – And we’re genuinely surprised at how much we have forgotten, probably in a haze of sleepless nights, work, toddler tantrums and, well, just life… So I cherish every photo. And I try to print as many as possible.
I’m also lucky that Robin loves a bit of technology and “learning a new skill” (I don’t call him a serial hobby-ist for nothing) so when I got a new camera he watched about a thousand hours of YouTube tutorials (you think I’m joking…) and can now take a very decent picture, he sometimes even talks me through his ‘vision’ for a snap! He’s taken wonderful pictures of Oscar and I, and recently, some great ones of Scout too. However, what we don’t have is pictures of us all together, our family of four.
To remedy this and fill the void in our collection, I contacted the wonderful Gillian of Gillian Morton Photography having followed her on IG for a while I knew I loved her style of shots. So, on Monday before the snow hit (and man, it hit hard) we ventured out to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in -1 temperatures to meet Gillian.
I’ll admit I was a bit nervous. Most folk don’t LOVE getting their picture taken, me included and Robin even more so, not to mention Oscar can be wildly uncooperative (#Toddler). I’d faffed about with my hair all morning trying to make it look “effortless”, I’d put on lipstick only to remove it again a grand total of 3 times and I’d been deliberating over an outfit for most the weekend – but it was freezing so really my options were limited. I was also worried it would be, well, a bit awkward! You’re going to meet someone you’ve only spoken to online and she’s going to run about taking pictures of you while you pretend everything is totally normal… And it’s not that normal.
All these worries went straight out the window when we met Gillian in the foyer at the John Hope Gate and purchased tickets for the Glasshouses. I immediately felt at ease and even Oscar, who can sometimes be a bit shy around strangers was chatting away to Gillian within five minutes and showing her a squirrel that was running up and down the trees following us. We walked and we chatted and I forgot there was even a camera between us – Gillian takes multitasking to a whole new level holding a full conversation while running around, finding angles to minimise my double chin and snapping a tornado toddler. It’s impressive.
We stopped when Scout needed boobing (in the relative warmth of the Glasshouse) and even got some discreet snaps of her feeding, pictures that I wouldn’t normally think to take myself but I know that I’ll look back on in years to come and be glad I have them.
The afternoon was completely relaxed and it was genuinely lovely to just wander through the gardens and have a natter about everything from family to work to Instagram and who we love to follow! We ended up spending way more time there than we anticipated, to the point where we were herded out by the rangers for overstaying our welcome as it shuts at 5pm… try explaining the urgency to a toddler that refuses to be carried by anyone but also walks at the speed of a snail that we NEED to get out or else have to pitch a tent and spend the night. The staff were obviously over the moon to be kept in work late on a Monday evening waiting for us to vacate…
So even though we might now be barred from the Botanics, it was beyond worth it. I spent the rest of the week refreshing my Facebook feed in the hope I’d see a sneak peak of our shoot and then this morning I got the message I’d been waiting for – They were ready!
It’s safe to say I love them all, truly every one of them – they capture “us”. They show Robin fully immersed in a story he’s telling (probably something about planes…) while I try and keep up with his pace. They capture the fleeting mischievous look that crosses Oscar’s face the second before he runs off to explore, as well as the tiny details of our beautiful new addition who is present and highlighted in the photos despite being wrapped up inside my coat. They show the love our little family shares and to me they’re perfect I’m so glad I put aside my own insecurities and went for it – and hey, I look fine despite nervously reapplying foundation 5 times…
So, if anyone out there is looking to add some relaxed family shots to their photo album I’d recommend Gillian a million times over. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Here are some of my favourites!