Lou Tomlinson + The Story Behind

We’re suckers for a photographer that can tell a story in multiple layers. Lou Tomlinson and her featured photo caught our eye for that particular reason though that spot on black and white conversion certainly didn’t hurt either. With so much activity in the frame paired with the perfect composition, we had to know her recipe for success. Thank you to Lou for so graciously sharing the string of details that came together to make this photo so special!

IG Handle: @loutown.photo

Where was this photo taken? Lyme Regis, Dorset, England

How did the location add or hinder to your image?

The lane we found gave me nice strong visual lines down either side which I really felt drew the viewers eye in. It also created a secluded spot for the boys to let their inhibitions fall away and just let their imaginations run riot.

Can you tell us “The Story Behind” this shot?

I spotted this small lane on our way walking back to the house after a long day playing on the beach. The boys were high on life and running around us as we did the parent plod home, loaded with all the life shrapnel that goes with a day at the beach with kids. I liked the visual framing of the lines created by the pavements with buildings lining either side. The lane is actually pedestrian only and we largely had the space to ourselves as we made our way along which meant the boys felt able to be particularly free. I think being in a relatively secluded spot just away from the crowded sea front helps kids to feel like they’re almost being sneaky somehow, like they’re on a secret passageway. I think its that, that helps to encourage their wild imaginative side. It was one of those rare sunny gorgeous days that we so rarely get, the warmth was starting to go and we all needed an injected of energy to get us back up the hill. My camera lives around my neck permanently. I never want to miss a moment when it happens organically and so as we began to walk into the lane, the boys saw me lift the lens, my gorgeous friend Victoria began to dance for me to get our energy up and then there was no stopping them. In the full series of images we actually have all 3 boys running around re creating images reminiscent of the Beastie Boys. So there I had it, a gyrating pregnant lady twerking like her life depended on it with 3 wild things bouncing off the walls either side all showing me who could be the fiercest.

DSLR, iPhone, instant or film?

DSLR. Canon 750D.

What were your camera settings for this image?

f/8.0, 1/500, ISO 2000 lens at 29mm.

I used my favourite lens of the moment, a Sigma Art 18-35mm 1.8. Its pretty hefty but it gives me some beautiful bokeh and can be versatile enough to mean I dont need to change lenses too much. I tend to switch between this and a simple nifty fifty for most of my work.

What speaks to you about this image? What specifically made you press the shutter?

I just love it when they’re wild. I think that its so SO incredibly important to be silly sometimes and let loose, I want the kids to grow up remembering that. I love that its mundane. I love that its an unassuming little lane with a raucous celebration going on for absolutely no reason what so ever. I dont know if they would have let loose in quite the same way, or even if we would have done this little exercise at all if I hadn’t have been snapping away. Every person is present in the moment, just celebrating the joy that we all felt. I love the intensity of Archies eyes, particularly in contrast with the silliness of his dancing mother just inches away from him. I can still hear the screams and the ‘rawrs’ and the laughing, and that to me, that collection of sounds seems to sum up my family life rather well. We are big fans of Where The Wild Things Are in my home, can you tell?

What was your composition technique with this shot?

I normally try to line things up using a Rule of Thirds composition, not necessarily as a rule I just seem to be naturally drawn to that set up. I think particularly with so much going on in one frame the chances of achieving symmetry with several moving subjects at once was slim to none and so splitting the frame into thirds allowed me to capture everyone whilst maintaining a clear and pleasing emphasis on Archie. I also almost always come down to a childs eye level to take photos of kids, I feel like it could possibly give the viewer a more interesting perspective.

Did you have any lighting challenges? How did you light the image?

There were a LOT of shadows in there! The weather was turning, it was late in the day and instead of a gorgeous magic hour golden light the clouds began to dull our skies. My camera was still set to the lighting conditions on the beach from earlier and so really I could have done with a lower f stop as I didn’t want to compromise the sharpness of the image given the speed of our subject ninjas. Unfortunately because of this I ended up with a super high ISO. I never normally shoot with an ISO this high, it left me with an image that was super noisy, which is one of the main reasons its in black and white. I had to work pretty hard using curves in Lightroom to help enhance remove some of the harsh shadows but keep the intensity of some of the darks so that it didn’t just fall flat. I also used a mixture of a brush and a radial filter on Archies face to really eliminate more shadows and bump up the highlights.

Did you use any special techniques?

Nothing fancy here, just permanently holding my camera. Sometimes I grumble to myself about heaving it around but I have never ever once regretted having my camera surgically attached to me. When I look through that collection of raw images the moment passed so quickly but said so much about our mood that day, I’m glad I was ready to capture it.

Was this photo happenstance or did you visualize it prior? If so, how did you envision the image and set up for it?

A little of both to be honest. We walked past the ally a couple of times and I felt like I liked the spot but I didn’t have a definite final image in mind. I just wanted sneaky, cheeky wildness in the middle of the ordinary. Basically life with boys in a sentence, ha.

Did you use a preset to edit this image, your own selective edits or a combination of both?

Its LXC 06 as a jumping off point before some hefty tweakage due to the lighting issues.

For more from the delightful Lou Tomlinson, check out her IG feed featuring lots more of her wild and free brood.