“ Company: Trevor Aston / Service: Photography „
I have always had a deep loathing of having my photograph taken, so when I discovered that my mother in law had paid for a family portrait as a Christmas present, I had very mixed feelings. The company that she had chosen was a small local photographer; Trevor Aston, who operates around the London and home county area.
With trepidation, I made the call and agreed that Trevor should come to the house for 'the shoot'. He explained that he would like to take the photograph in our favourite room in the house; the room which we enjoyed the most time together in as a family. We could also all bring some kind of prop - something that each of us enjoyed doing or which told a bit of a story about who we are.
When he arrived, he turned out to be a quietly spoken, middle aged man with a dry sense of humour and a rather posh BBC voice. Very different from the 'Say Cheese, love' brash type of photographer I had experienced in the past. We later discovered that Trevor has had a long career as a BBC radio producer, which probably explains both his calm organisational skills and his accent!
The initial consultation formed a separate part of the package, and this visit gave us the chance to get to know Trevor and feel relaxed about him being in our home. We spent a great deal of time deciding on the best room and the best position for everybody to be in. Getting all three cats into the photograph was something that could prove to be a bit difficult, so we agreed that one or two would be fine.
As our children are too old to want to bring any toys or other props into the photograph, Trevor suggested that we actually sit around a table to play a game of scrabble, so that we looked properly relaxed rather than awkward and posed. All I had to do was to clear the background of clutter and make sure that my favourite ornaments were properly dusted!
As the initial consultation had been so thorough, we were all very relaxed and prepared on the day of the photograph. As soon as we had shown Trevor the room, he started to set up the usual paraphernalia of big white umbrellas and back lights. This took a little bit of time, but we were able to just leave him to it until he was ready for us to sit down.
When the lighting was set up, we all sat down around the table and started to chat and play the game. Trevor just sat to one side and chatted with us, and it didn't take long for all of us to relax and completely forget that the camera lens was pointing in our direction. The best part for me was that the camera was set up on a tripod, but Trevor did not sit behind it and point it at us. Instead he operated it remotely so that we never knew when the click of the shutter would sound. Trevor took seemingly hundreds of shots at random and unexpected moments; there was no posing and no false and awkward smiles to fix on our faces. The cats were sitting or sleeping around us and the whole event was really quite good fun.
After about an hour Trevor packed up his equipment and set off for home. By this stage we felt that we had got to know him really well, and were quite sad to see him go.
One of the things that I liked the sound of initially was that Trevor could touch up any horrible blemishes with his Photoshop skills, but when we actually got to see the photographs I found that there was no need to do this at all. The lighting was mellow and very kind - and we all looked rather glamorous.
I was really pleased with the results; we all looked very relaxed and Trevor had managed to show the real warmth of the family as he had taken the shots. I think this was because we were all laughing and talking to each other in a very natural way, rather than looking rather self-consciously at the camera lens.
The thing that made this photograph so different is that it shows our home and the things we love all around us. Everybody in the photograph was looking at each other - and it really does show the warmth of the family. I think this was done in an incredibly skilful way. On the surface it looks like a very easy thing to do and the informality of the shot gives the impression that anybody could have taken it, but in reality the whole shoot was very difficult and the results are the best family photographs that I have ever seen.
As the whole experience was a gift, I am not certain exactly how much it cost, but I get the impression that the whole thing was a couple of hundred pounds. This includes a large framed print of our favourite shot and a CD for us to keep, which contains of the other shots. Although it is rather expensive, Trevor did spend about three days on taking the photos and downloading and presenting them, with the initial consultation as well, so I guess this is fairly good value.
After we had seen our amazing photographs, I looked at the website to see what else Trevor Aston has produced. His website includes a lot of corporate photography with an unusual slant (the photograph of a smiling butcher chopping a pig's head in half tends to linger in my mind, and not in a good way...) - but Trevor has also taken some really beautiful nature photography which really impressed me. He mainly takes photographs around his home town of Teddington, and there are amazing depictions of Richmond Park and the local area. Some of the photographs of the stags in the park are very atmospheric but the close up studies of trees and wild flowers are also really unique. Most of these seem available to buy online and are different from anything I have seen before.
Trevor has won several prizes in the past for his beautiful wildlife photographs.
Trevor Aston has a website: www.trevorastonphotography.co.uk
He also has a Facebook page for the Family portrait side of the business - a simple search for Trevor Aston on Facebook will bring this up.
He can be contacted on:
mobile.... 078 3484 5556
office...... +44 (0) 20 8977 2529