Russ came to family photography through a very unexpected route. He recalls being given an SLR camera for his 11th birthday, one of the cameras his father had had since childhood, and learning to use it to photograph birds in his native South Africa. He went on to study Nature and Conservation at university, and landed a job working in a luxury safari lodge working as both a safari guide and an ecologist.
By then a skilled and avid photographer, he made the most of his environment and turned his attention to wildlife photography. With an eye for what makes a beautiful, natural shot, Russ had soon made a name in wildlife photography and filmmaking, with some of his work featured on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
Years later, through a series of twists and turns that brings many people to the UK, Russ found himself settled in London, responding to a job advertisement for a family photographer. After all, big cats are rather scarce in London!
Working with young children, he found he had just the right personality to bring out the most natural smiles, and to capture more contemplative moments. “Something clicked”, he said, and he hasn’t looked back.
So what’s Russ’ trick? He tells me that the key is to reflect their personalities back at them – with a bouncy, exuberant child, he is bouncy and energetic too. With a more solemn or shy child, he is more soft-spoken, and remembers to kneel at their level when he speaks to them.
He also believes that in giving the kids space and time to feel at ease, beautiful photos will follow. While some children only need 30 minutes, he sets aside 2 hours for a typical photo session to give the kids time to relax, to have a little snack if they’re getting cranky, or even have a run around outside to burn off some energy. Unlike some of the well known studios, Russ’ families never feel rushed. Better still, because children (and parents!) always feel more comfortable in their own homes, Russ will bring his mobile studio equipment to you.
Anyone can join the session, so if you want some photos with Grandma or with the new puppies, that’s fine too. Russ will upload your photos to a password-protected online gallery, so you can look through them at your leisure, without any obligation to buy.
Russ Jackson absolutely loves photographing newborn babies, capturing those rare serene moments in the first seven days while the baby is fast asleep. He’s a father himself, so knows that he needs to allow much more time in case the baby wakes up or needs a feed! He uses textures and fabrics to create beautiful photographs to cherish for a lifetime.
Looking through Russ’ portfolio, I’m struck by the intensity of the photographs, the textures, the feeling that the photographs were taken without the subject even noticing. There are the requisite cheery smiles, of course, as well as family portraits and photos of children splashing about or giggling.
But with Russ Jackson, it’s about more than just smiles – he strives to capture the child’s true personality, and frankly, whatever he’s doing seems to work.
Russ Jackson is currently offering 2 hour photography sessions for only £25, including a 10” x 8” (approx A4) print. Visit Russ Jackson Photography to find out more.[/box]
All images copyright Russ Jackson Photography, used with permission.