How to photograph your children in the bluebells: top ten tips

The bluebell is one of our best-loved British flowers, and with the recent warm weather these beautiful colours in nature have burst into life. As a family photographer in Henley-on-Thames, the arrival of these stunning woodland displays has sent me scurrying out to capture their glory for the short few weeks they are in bloom.

Here I share my top ten tips on how to photograph your children in the bluebells. 

And if the thought of organising your children and having to photograph them is all a bit overwhelming, I will be holding a limited number of bluebell sessions in the next two weeks (Sat 28th April and Sat 5th May) and have only a few slots left now. If you are interested I’d love to hear from you! 

1. Finding the bluebells

The National Trust has a Bluebell Wood page, which is a great place to start. Also the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has a handy list of bluebell woods in the area.

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

2. My favourite bluebell spots

Two of my favourite spots are Greys Court and the surrounding woods (10 minutes drive from Henley), for sheer wow factor and density of bluebells, and the woods next to Nuffield Place (15 minutes drive from Henley), for their fairytale-like woodland setting. 

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

3. Tread carefully

Bluebells are beautiful, and it's tempting to walk right through them, but please tread carefully.  These British beauties have delicate leaves that are very susceptible to being trodden on, causing the plant to die back. It takes at least 5 years for a bluebell seed to grow into a bulb. Bluebells are protected by UK law, and you can be fined up to £5000 for digging them up! Find bare patches or pathways on which to photograph your children.

Henley family photoshoot - walk in bluebells.jpg

4. Find the best light

Bluebells grow in ancient woodland areas and because there are not yet leaves on the trees the light can be quite dappled, creating bright patches in the forest. You want to try and seek out shaded areas of the forest, as this will create softer lighting on your subject's face. Or even better, photograph early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky and a bit softer (like the picture below, taken at 6pm). Cloudy days are perfect as they provide soft, even light and make the bluebell colours stand out. 

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

5. Shoot from a low angle

Get down to your child’s level. This might involve lying on the forest floor! This will make it look like they are sitting in a sea of bluebells. Choose a pathway, bare forest patch or log for them to sit on so that none of the bluebells are crushed - if you are low enough it is easy to make the pathway or bare forest patch disappear  from view.

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

6. What to wear

The clothes you wear will make a big difference to the overall look and feel of the image. Choose clothes for your children that are neutral in colour and already complement those colours found in the bluebell woods - creams, blues, greens or lilacs. 

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

7. Look behind them

Think about what is directly behind your children in the picture - you don’t want a nearby tree trunk sticking out of their head!

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

8. Dreamy backgrounds

If you know your camera settings, stand quite far back from your subject, dial your aperture setting as low as it will go, and zoom in with your lens as much as you can. This will help create that nice blur in the background and foreground. 

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

9. Natural smiles and reactions

Never ask your children to stand still, look at the camera and say ‘cheese’ - this will guarantee a fake grimace, or a quickly bored child. Instead simply engage and play with them as you normally would whilst taking the picture - tell them something funny, make silly noises, or have someone behind you being daft! Or simply be quiet and let them wander - my favourite photos are the ones where they become absorbed in what is around them.

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

10. Click, click, click! 

Take more photos than you think you need to. Then you have the highest chance of catching that perfect moment. 

Henley family photoshoot - girl in bluebells.jpg

And there you have it, my top ten tips for photographing your children in the bluebells.  Have fun!!