A New Chapter
A christening as we all know is the start of a whole new life story and a new chapter in a family’s history, but it is also a celebration of long established family traditions, things that could be easily taken for granted if care isn’t taken to preserve the moment.
This was no more apparent when I was called in by long time valued clients – the Smith family – to photograph the christening of their first grandchild, Reuben George Jones.
A Shift Of Focus
I have worked for Keith on a number of occasions over the last few years, but always in connection with shooting and Gundog activities, producing one of my very first shoot books for Keith back in early 2012. So it was truly a great honour to be asked to photograph Reuben’s day.
Photographing a christening is much like a wedding, albeit with a little less ceremony, and the focus of course shifts a little. I still have the responsibilities that go with working in church – understanding the boundaries and local protocols, but the photography itself requires a slightly different approach. No longer centring on a grown up couple but now on a single little person, and of course Mum and Dad. This requires a little shift in focus, different priorities. People act very differently around a small child than they do a couple starting out on married life, it’s interesting to watch and a challenge to capture, but always great fun.
And then it’s that phrase that I hate, but I can’t think of another that works – the “Family Dynamic”. What it is that makes that one family tick, its uniqueness. The relationships, the history, the “in jokes”, the hierarchy, the intricate connections that take generations to develop …. and then multiply all that by two, because two families are now one.
The One Defining Thing …
It is on days like this that very occasionally there is one thing … one object … perhaps a person, that almost defines that “Family Dynamic” on that particular day, one thing that will come to symbolise that moment, and moments like it for many years, even generations to come.
On this day, for this family, it was a little child’s hand truck.
‘The Big Chief’
There are apparently pictures of Keith wheeling around his Triang Big Chief – none of those were shared with me unfortunately – so the presence of this little cart in family photographs is well established.
And it was a very particular photo featuring the Big Chief that came to my attention in the brief for the christening.
The photo featured Keith and Debbie’s four daughters and the vintage truck, under one of the trees in the back garden of “The Homestead” – the long standing family home.
Debbie wanted this shot duplicated at the christening, but with of course the addition of the star of the show, Reuben George Jones.
Normally I do dread that moment a photo comes out and I am asked “can you do that?”
On this occasion though I knew it could work – we had willing participants, we had the weather, we had the garden and of course we had the cart! We weren’t aiming for a facsimile, that would take no imagination, we could have used the same tree to shoot under, but instead we took a little more relaxed approach in a different corner of the garden, but importantly the result was spot on.
So, with a little bit of history repeated, another chapter in the Smith and Jones family begins, and the importance of a little red truck is ensured for a new generation. It was a pleasure to be a part of it, a complete honour to record it and personally I can’t wait for the next part of the story, which may be coming sooner than you think …..