A documentary photographer:

…from art school to play group

Out of the 90’s and into ‘it’:

A life intertwined with photography – and ultimately, documentary family photography – started with an impromptu trip to art school as a college student. I wanted to see creative people doing creative things (it was the 90’s and there was some kind of excitement over some kind of pickled cow in a gallery). What really stuck with me however, was seeing the work of a camera. It’s actually very hard to explain why, but I guess it’s often those things that really ‘get’ you that are like this. The shutter clicked and nothing changed accept for its user, who became slower, faster, more objective. Also, the camera just seemed to throw this guy right into the things in front of him. It demanded decisions, resolutions and money where there was any hint of mouth. I liked it. I wanted to throw myself ‘into it’. In fact, something I saw that day stayed with me as a kind of role model: part person, part process, part drill-sergeant… (and part camera).

Yes, I blew most of my student loan on these prints…
I found an old castle on my travels with a beautiful portcullis small enough to peer through all of its holes. So, every one was ‘documented’ as a 35mm slide, like this.

Life will never be just a walk in an open field

So, a life with a camera. My approach to photography can be called ‘documentary’ and has been developed unashamedly the ‘long way’. Since that initial encounter, I have taken my own camera for a long walk through the Alps, through a Masters Degree, gallery exhibitions (producing photography), through education again (teaching photography), another trip across France on a bike… I have always responded to light, to atmosphere and to people – and working with photography in different fields has prompted meaningful ways of engaging with all of these things.

This work of 12 photographs has seen a few exhibitions in London and the South. It’s called ‘I met a caravan’, after a passage from a Hans Anderson tale.
My lessons involved cameras from shoe boxes to DSLR’s – and fun.

Some people I met

I’ve also always gone to exhibitions. I’m a fan of Vermeer, Rembrandt, Daniel Day-Lewis and have mixed, though nostalgic, feelings about that guy who put a cow in a gallery. My camera definitely helped me discover Josef Koudelka and Paul Graham and I went to an Andrei Tarkovsky festival in Conques in France completely by accident. I talked to my students about people like these, and they talked to me about them, and others. I talked to anyone I could find about my grade 1 teaching observation… I have learned the joy (and expense) of printing big, of printing small and the shear euphoria of making two slide-projectors change slides simultaneously. I think a good photograph has to tell a story. And I think that my approach as a photographer owes something to all of this.

Claire Tomalin signing books with gusto.
Laughing with joy, love and… gusto at a lovely Christening.

It’s…personal

‘Documentary’ in photography, for me, means engaging with something personal. In my ‘long walk’ with a camera I documented artwork, talks, professional life… At some point the camera peered closer into personal life too. I documented life with a sweet-heart-turned fiancée. My own life turned into ‘family life’. A new-born bundle of joy turned into a two-year-old monkey (of joy). My Grandad turned 100. I experienced how utterly important our own wedding photography was to us. I considered the demand on photography more and more – the demand to capture and tell stories that are just unique. I considered all the things that a photographer has to see and do – and feel – in order to achieve this and, well, so began the story of the family photographer London always knew it needed!

One monkey…
Two monkeys…
Three monkeys.

And so we get to the heart of things

I believe that at its heart, in some sense or other, photography has human stories. And, even if I knew this before my own ‘long walk’ began, I think it’s still a good way to sum up what I’ve learned on the way. I’ve always responded to light, to atmosphere and to people. But for me, photography has also become a way of finding human stories – and responding to them with all I’ve got.

So here’s what I’ve got for you!

As a family photographer in London I make real, beautiful images of real, brilliant people (you). I offer a variety of sessions for your kids, your family and the events in your gorgeous life. Take a look!

This is me

Family photographer London

working across the country

Talk to me

info@benheasman.com

07752674652

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keepers, monkeys, momentary epiphanies…