Kids, Cameras, and Landscape Photography

The Adventures of a Haphazard Landscape Photographer

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With a young family, you need to get out. Of course, you’ll be loaded down with the correct paraphernalia, pushchair, nappies, changing mat, mashed banana etc. Your days out, though tiring, are fun, and of course, you want to document those important years.

If the clouds parted to throw a beautiful shaft of sunlight over the daffodils of Ullswater, I could get that photograph only if I wasn’t tying a child’s shoelace or giving my tired youngest a shoulder ride at the time.
As the years roll on, the day is soon coming when my kids won’t want to go on holiday with their aged parents anymore. Maybe then I’ll go all Ansel and get my old 5x4 out of its case and start planning my landscape photography, using a tripod, making notes on exposure. But until that day, my Rolleiflex is here to stay.

When my first child was born, I used many different types of cameras and formats to record his early years. A 35mm range finder, a Bronica medium format camera, I even had a go with large format and Polaroid Type 55. The results were, at best, patchy.

When my second child was born, I realized that I needed a camera system that would capture the growth of my small family in a more consistent way. As a child, I would pour, for hours, over my family’s black and white photo albums, so wanting to continue that tradition, I bought a TLR Yashica. Perfect. Small and portable with no extra lenses to carry, this simple camera could easily be stuffed into the nappy bag. It also produced fabulous large 120 negs that took me back to those old family albums. I quickly modified our bathroom into an occasional darkroom.

As my children outgrew their pushchairs and our weekend family walks became longer and more frequent, we ventured further afield with the landscapes became more varied. Living in London, we would day trip the South and North Downs, visit family and friends in Yorkshire, camp in the Lake District and holiday in rural Devon and Norfolk. The landscape became part of the adventure, if in a child-friendly sort of way. Also, we visited a lot of playgrounds! And as we travelled, my photography started to include those British landscapes.

Of course, any photography would happen at the behest of my family. If the clouds parted to throw a beautiful shaft of sunlight over the daffodils of Ullswater, I could get that photograph only if I wasn’t tying a child’s shoelace or giving my tired youngest a shoulder ride at the time. In between these family duties, I would shoot landscapes when I could. No tripod, no planning, no kitbag. Just the camera, light meter, two filters and a couple of rolls of HP5. There was none of that “having a film camera gives you time to think” mantra. To get those shots, I had to be quick.

I used the Yashica for a couple of years before selling it to buy a Rolleiflex (oh be still my beating heart). The 5D MK whatever of its day, this awesome camera has produced some of the best photos I have ever taken. Very similar in layout to the Yashica but with a slightly better f3.5 lens and a gorgeously up rated brighter viewing screen courteous of Rick Oleson this camera goes on all family adventures since 2009.

After the 2019 school summer holidays, I had 12 rolls of film to process. That’s only 144 exposures over six weeks, but those photographs tell the story of those six weeks in Cornwall, Kent and Scotland better than any digital haul of images that I could capture.

As the years roll on, the day is soon coming when my kids won’t want to go on holiday with their aged parents anymore. Maybe then I’ll go all Ansel and get my old 5x4 out of its case and start planning my landscape photography, using a tripod, making notes on exposure. But until that day, my Rolleiflex is here to stay.