HELEN WHITTLE - INTERVIEW
Helen Whittle is based near Orange, NSW, Australia and is a natural light photographer specializing in child portraits and family documentary images.
As well as being a finalist in The Voice Collection in Click Magazine 2016, she was Australian Photographer of the Year 2016 in The Australian Photography Magazine.
You specialize in photographing children. Tell us a little about how you got into this niche, and why you love it?
I’ve always had a keen interest in photography but only started learning how a camera really worked when I became a mum in 2008. Photographing children is challenging, but fun (and very frustrating!). You never quite know what you’re going to end up with, but it’s also a beautiful documentation of your children as they grow.
You create some very dramatic images, and you use light & shadow to set the mood. Can you share some tips on using light in this manner?
I love a dramatic image and I try to convey this with black and whites with strong contrast. Light is everything in an image. How it is used can change the story or message within an image. My tip would be: when you’re taking images with very bright highlights and dark shadows, always meter off the highlights to avoid blowing out your image.
You are a ‘ClickPro photographer’ - Can you explain what that is?
ClickPro is a community of women photographers from all over the world. Membership requires having been accepted based on a portfolio submission of your work. We are a group of passionate, like-minded women who not only create amazing artwork, but we inspire each other, share our knowledge, and provide constant support to others.
Who are some of your influences in the world of photography?
I have many influences (I look at other artists work whenever I get a spare moment). I love the work of Nicki Boon, Sally Mann, Sharon Covert… I could go on and on.
Outside of photography, where do you find inspiration?
As cheesy as it sounds I’m inspired by my children, I love their sense of wonder and fun, and I love the bond I have with them through photography.
What scares you?
Not much scares me. I guess dying, or my family dying… oh and redback spiders.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My heroes… I’d have to say my friends and family who are kind and who give tirelessly to other people.
What is the one lens you can’t live without?
I couldn’t live without my Nikon 24-70mm f2.8… It’s my fourth child.
So much of your work is presented in black & white? Why is that?
I love black and white for the drama, the emotion, the timeless feel they have. I really love other artists colour photos but I’m colourblind, and I struggle with certain tones, so I never think my colour images are any good.
Your work has a very authentic, documentary feel to it, filled with raw emotion & connection. Photographing kids is already challenging for many people, can you give some advice on working with children?
My advice for photographing kids would be to get them on your side. They need to trust you, and they need to feel they are doing a good job, so lots and lots of praise and encouragement. Anger and frustration does not have a place in child photography!! (easier said than done!)
Helen Whittle - Gear list
50mm f1.4 lens
I’ve teamed up with the incredible April Milani and we are running Child Portraiture Workshops. Teaching all we know about taking images of children, from how to interview them to editing videos and techniques and portfolio building. Next one starts October 27th2018. www.milani.photography/child-portraiture