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As the full glory of Autumn begins to fall, I’ve been reflecting on this season’s family shoots. As a photographer Autumn is my favourite. What’s not to love about the colours and the light.

Anyway, I digress like a small human at bedtime, let’s crack on… Your family’s photoshoot is your chance to call the shots. We’ll discuss timings, location, and wardrobe. It’s basically all tailor made just for you, to suit your needs. Therefore it must reflect your family and their personality, so the location has to be relevant to your story.

Fast forward to a conversation between myself and Lucy discussing her upcoming family photo shoot. (To give you some background… I’ve worked for Lucy many times before, photographing all her children’s birthday parties, a tiny newborn Adeline and her Baptism. But first and foremost Lucy is a very good friend. Cue and extra dollop of homegrown pressure! Gulp) Lucy told me she wanted her family’s shoot in Thornton Park, Essex, ‘the’ home of the actual Gruffalo.

I know just how special this location is for the family, however it’s a photographer’s nightmare. ‘The deep dark wood’ brings tricky dark lighting conditions, dappled light, colour casts, the list goes on, eek! Enough issues to give me a poisonous wart. Alas, anyone who knows Mrs Lucy Heighton knows she is a tough cookie, a straight speaker, a good business woman and never gives up on what she wants. By this point I had actually started sprouting purple prickles all over my back!

This was going to get interesting. You know when a toddler insists on holding their own Babyccino, refusing help or advice. They know best and they trust their ickle hands to juggle the froth. Even if you don’t. Lucy was the toddler in this scenario- sorry Lucy!!  I on the other hand was the control starved parent. Forced to abandon juggling the froth for fear of spilt milk on all concerned. The moral of this story is sometimes you have to surrender your own choices and get out of your comfort zone. The toddler might just have made the right decision, the milk might not splat you or them or the carpet. And I (the controlling cautious parent, big metaphor for my photographer tendencies) have to cross my fingers, let go and trust my instincts. Thank goodness Lucy DIDN’T DROP THE BLOODY CUP!

Despite the conditions, their amazing gallery speaks for itself. The children Poppy, Albert and Adeline were brilliant. They coped with the cold October morning really well. We kept them all going with snacks, games and distractions. They are such bold and brave children, true reflections of  their awesome parents Glen and Lucy. This brilliant couple make everything look easy, even when they had 3 under 3 years old! Yes I know! They are those crazy people you hear about, the ones who want 5 kids. They fully embrace the “natural chaos” and even make it look fun. These 2 should write a parenting manual. They make baby making and rearing, look as easy as naughty Norman does starting fires, in Fireman Sam (Aplologies but I will never tire from abusing Norman the k#%bhead).

Thanks for not giving up on your vision of your shoot Lucy. We all learned something that morning. Firstly, you’ll still find the Gruffalo even if you don’t follow the trail, smarties always get results whatever colour they are, muddy boots, autumnal colours and snotty cuddles are what childhood memories are made of. So it seems some rules are meant to be broken, how liberating. Even if at one point the fun just became too much for Adeline.

If you would like to track down the Gruffalo for yourself at Thorndon Park click here for the website:


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