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  • Writer's pictureCara Hodge

Emotive Child & Family Portraits with a vintage feel, 2024. Cara Hodge Photography.

Updated post/April 2024

Hi everyone, we are already mid February and it's time for my second blog of 2024. The days & weeks are already running away with me.

I have been spending a lot of time revising my website in terms of my "brand". That is to say, a website reflecting the photography I most want to create for my families.


As well as timeless, cinematic black & white family photography, I have been revising my color palette for my color edits. To create a softer, vintage inspired family photography.

What is "vintage"?

One definition: "denoting something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind."

Vintage is something that has stood the test of time. Photography that is vintage inspired my be reminiscent of "time gone by", but capture the best of what we associate with a particular. In some cases, an image can be considered "timeless" when it is hard to pinpoint the era, because there is something about the era that transcends or could belong to any time. This makes it classic, timeless, inconic

This picture of my daughter (below) has a bit of a timeless or vintage quality? For a start, her plain white cotton dress is not from a particular trend, her hair in braids is reminiscent of a country side look that won't go out of fashion. Further, she is in a genuinely old battered wheelbarrow beneath an even older tree!

girl in short cotton white dress in an old rusty wheelbarrow under a tree in a meadow
Girl in Wheelbarrow

Creating a vintage-style picture

A lot is about the wardrobe, nothing that screams "Now" or "this season's latest trend" in terms of fashion. I give out wardrobe tips to all my families, although it is most important to feel comfortable & relaxed on the session!

With that said neutrals work well for a timeless feel - white, black, grey. Also, for an outdoor family photo shoot, the colors of nature work well - blue, green, brown, beige. Essentially all "earth toned" colors can give an honest-to-goodness rustic vibe. Think all shades of brown to burnt oranges. Another thing to think about is texture. Sheepskins, wool, suede, leather - any natural or organic or traditional weave is going to look classic & timeless. Remember classic clothes will help to create a classic mood in your pictures.

Aside from this, choosing pretty backdrops including nature, flowers, trees can add to a timeless landscape feel. Props can be used also. The rusty wheelbarrow in my garden has been a feature in many of my own child & family portraits. I have used neutral blankets & soft toys also, and more unusual props such as vintage style teacups in some of my own child portraits. As with the wardrobe, traditional objects in the environment, as well as antique style furniture, will help create a timeless & evocative picture.

These little boys in their matching baseball jackets - a timeless wardrobe & brand, help to make a photo appear ageless.

two little boys in matching blue baseball jackets at a restaurant
Boys in baseball jackets

...Then, there is the editing process to give a "looks like film" vintage feel.

A "looks like film" softer vintage color edit.

How to create it.

Lower on contrast to create a matter effect but increasing the blacks for boldness, whilst lowering also the saturation so as to get a more muted look. Also, increasing warmth and playing with tint (adding to the pinks & reds) helps to get a warmer, rosier vintage inspired look. After all, antique or vintage photography back in the day meant that colors were naturally less saturated. Also adding selective sharpening, both of fine details & overall sharpening because older pictures have what I like to call plenty of "dust n scratches".

The "Old Money" look is a really good starting point for creating muted pictures. Here is a link to the Old Money edit I have been getting inspiration from. This is not because of any passing fad, it has come from really wanting to create a timeless color edit that I love. Like all things photography related, some things are grasped in a heart beat (well...sort of...) but other things can take ages to tweak or perfect.

To save time, I have played with the pictures directly on my website by re editing directly in the pages website. I will spend more time finalizing this antique feel edit when creating the upcoming galleries for my families!

For example, this recent fave of a little baby girl taking her first steps on a Spring mini session in my local garden in Blackrock, Dublin. The daisies were out, it was an adorable moment! The grass is gently de-saturated and the colors more softly muted. I love how now the white of her dress pops more along with the daisies, whereas before the grass might have stood out more in vibrant color.

little girl in white cotton dress taking first steps on a daisy lawn with dad's arms to catch her if she falls over. outdoor spring family minis by cara hodge
First Steps

I can't wait to start back my Spring mini's this year when the streets and parks fill up with cherry blossom again!

Below, a softer & warmer edit for an outdoor birthday party for granddad in a Dublin home & garden. Again a softer de-saturated look that allows the focus to be on the kiss but where the pretty flowers are still popping!

small boy held by mum in a garden giving dad a kiss on the cheeks at an outdoor birthday party at home

And here is a fave of my daughter (below). This is a good example of the warmer tones as well as a de-saturated look. The added warmth still adds a summery glow. I can't wait for the sun to shine again soon!

girl dressed in yellow trousers sitting in the grass with panda slippers

At the same time on working on my new color editing style, I have spruced up my Feminine Portraits, Debs & Graduation page. I've done this by giving the pictures in all my galleries, including this one, a white border reminiscent of old Polaroid pictures. I love this fresh, new feel. I am hoping to take some pictures of my family, me with the kids too, with my new retro Polaroid camera. It's just FUN!

Ahh!, and just one more. I loved loved this outdoor photo shoot with new baby boy. As well as faces, it is lovely to photograph backs. This baby in his little dungarees (heart melt). Again a less saturated look and slightly warmed up tones...

little baby in mum's arms as she sits on bench smiling at him. outdoor family photo shoot for families, babies, children in dublin
Bench baby

As well as my color play, there will always be a place for my love of natural black & white family photography!

Old favorite. Black & white timeless family photography

Sharing two NEW black & white child portraits here (below) to this old blog post.

I like to use "looks like film" Replichrome actions for my black & whites.

I am working on a second photo story so going through the archives and trying to catch up on editing with my own family pictures! I love to do this in the winter months.

The imperfections, here the highlights and light leaks, are the elements that add a vintage feel. In old times, pictures naturally had more noise or grain & noise can happen naturally when a picture is taken in extreme or challenging light such as midday/no shade. Although I lean more to black & whites that are neither too cool or too warm, a warmer b & w with sepia tones DEFINITELY carries an antique vibe...

I love these two sisters hugging in front of a tent in the garden. I am working on a documentary family portrait story but this is more of a straight up portrait.

little sister hugging big sister while bare foot on a garden step with tent in background. outdoor family photo shoot at home in dublin

I love how a black & white really brings expression & emotion into FOCUS.

mascara running down girl's face as she adjusts a flower in her hair. emotive family portraits by cara hodge photography dublin

It's nostalgic, especially in the cold rainy weather we're having here in Dublin, to look back on old times. Times that were sunny and bright.

Revisiting pictures of long summer days can add a sense of longing and passion to a new edit.

Looks like film: Family pictures in classic black & white and with vintage inspired color. They make for classic child portrait photography that could be from any era. I love to have some timeless black & white conversions in my family & lifestyle galleries, and they are always a favorite.

I love to print my personal pictures on gorgeous mat at the professional Copper House Printers I use here in Dublin! There is something about the Giclee pigment printing on mat that makes a special picture look so luxurious, so I always recommend it.

Contact me for your family, child, baby or natural newborn photography session here in Dublin. Emotive child & family portraits.

Have a wonderful week, Cara x

black & white Halloween portrait of boy with flowers and skulls

boy in an old battered wheelbarrow

 boy with hands soaked in vases of flowers

boy in his mother's big oversized coat sat on a chair in low light

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