Family portraiture: a unique aunt-niece collaboration

My niece is very smart – she is sociable, she is sweet, and she is kind. At the moment, she’s reaching the end of her time at high school and, to my delight, has developed (pun intended) an interest in photography on the side of her studies. So, when she asked me to teach her about analogue and portrait photography, it was easy to say yes.

Having my niece see my studio in Berlin and work here with me was important for both of us, so I invited her to join me with a friend. And in the studio, I simply followed their needs: the perfect combination of input and exchange.

First, with our analogue cameras in our hands, I realised that although my niece and her friend had received some photography instruction and explanations before, it so happened that no one had ever taken the time to really explain to them the relation between speed and aperture. This relationship is a vital one in portraiture photography – in all photography, really – since it dictates the depth of field, i.e.  the distance between the nearest and furthest element in a scene that appears sharp enough in the image. Both young women are really smart, excellent students, but until then they had never dared to ask and ask again until they had truly grasped the concept. So that’s exactly what I made a safe space for them to do.

To put their newly gained portraiture photography knowledge into practice, I leant them my analogue middle format camera and we all took turns posing and photographing. I’ve put my most favourite of the images we created collaboratively here in this blog. And when they both held the light meter next to my camera and discussed the set-up so confidently, I could see that they had deeply understood my answers to their questions.

Then, to finish, I had them both smell individual scent notes and write down their associations – as well as choose colours to accompany them. It turned out that my niece is very connected to smells and their memories and emotions, something I would never have known were it not for our gorgeous studio session.

My niece and her friend left with a new perspective on photography and scent, and the memory of a happy, creative day together in the studio of an artist… who happens to be her aunt! And I left with a deep confirmation of how much I love to create workshops and art with and for people, according to their individual needs. Our time together opened my heart to workshops in a whole new way and reminded me that I deeply love sharing my studio for someone else’s creative needs.