Have I ever told you about WHY I do this job?

Well, actually more about why I love making photographs for families. It’s a pretty personal and emotional post coming up, though today is national Time to Talk day so it’s allowed, right?

Here it is… the reason I love making photos


A simple photo of myself and my mother. I cried when I seen this for the first time a few years ago. There are probably more/ better photos of us somewhere, though not many (3rd child, right). This one spoke to me because of the moment. My mother is my best friend. She’s the one that I go to. We’re similar in all kinds of ways, good and bad.

Here’s another reason…

Taken the same day as the one above it looks like, a picture of me and my father. A rare sunny day in Ireland so the camera came out! I don’t remember much about my childhood if I’m honest. So these photos and the other handful I have are precious. They are the only tangiable proof that we existed as a family in 1986.  If there’s not many pictures of myself and my mother then there’re even less with my dad. They split up when I was 8 and there’re none of just the three of us. Which I feel sadness about.

Like all families we had ups and downs. I feel closer to my parents now more than ever before.

Having been raised by and feeling close to not just my parents but my lovely grandparents too. They provided a second home, and my aunts and uncle a third and fourth. I always had somewhere I could go and someone that was looking out for me.  They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well here I am, except the village is my whole family.

My paternal Grandad died this month. He left a lot of heartbroken people behind. He was an amazing man. I know we are inclined to say that about everyone that passes but this one was something else. I realised something during his funeral. I realsied that we’re not invincible. Not our parents, not us and not our children.

This is him and me and below is him with my first born. Precious.

During his funeral I realised that our memories are all we have at some points in our lives. If we don’t have memories, for instance the time when we’re babies or even years before we’re born then we have photos. They fill the gaps. They tell the story. They shape our existence and the ideas we possess about ourselves. They are evidence of a life lived, a character that is familiar or unfamiliar to us. 

 My parents before they had any children!

They bring happiness and sometimes they bring sadness. We can hang them on the wall for a daily reminder or we can put them away for a day when we’re ready for them. Although if we don’t take the photos we don’t have the choice.

I know for some people it can seem a bit self indulgent to ask someone to take a photo of you, with your kids or parents or friends but feck it. Think about the next generation. Think about your children who will want to see you in the photo with them. Who will want to piece together their childhood with random beautiful moments frozen in time. They will become the keeper of your family’s memories.

I’m trying hard to do this for my boys. To get in the picture with them. They hate it as much as I do sometimes but I KNOW they will thank me for it one day. A camera can capture, when their minds could easily forget. If they can look back at photos of us and feel half as much emotion as I do when I look at those above then I’ll be happy.


Christmas Morning Photography Tips

The night before the big man arrives, make sure you’ve got everything prepared for the morning. Don’t be caught out like I might have been that one time (ok, probably a few times!), charge your batteries and format your memory cards. Have a de-clutter too, it will make the ensuing mess all the more easy to face.


Or lack there of if you’re in the UK. If your children wake up about an hour after they’ve gone to bed (and continue to do so every hour after till Father Christmas has been) then you’ll know it’s pretty dark at that time. You’ll need to use every light scource available to you but do try to avoid using the over head lights. Having the kids face the natural light with the christmas tree behind them is ideal so if you can put off the present opening till then even better. If not then use all the side lamps you have to hand, and not that you would, but don’t forget the lights on the tree. 


Build it! Tell the kids they need to wait for a few things to happen before they can dive in and rip everything open. Slowing down builds the excitment and makes it last longer. Besides all that you’ll need to make a cup of coffee, right? I like to be waiting in the room for them so I can get those amazing WOW faces when they come in the door and see all the presents under the tree. Usually they have opened their stockings in bed with me so they’re fine with waiting for the main present.  Having a rule that only one person can open a present at a time is great for slowing it all down and just focusing on being grateful. It also means you are less likely to miss the all important reactions if you have more than one child. 


Whilst you can prepare and hope things go the way you planned, it may not. Don’t be a bore and make it all about the photos. If you’re not comfortable enough with your camera to enjoy the moment and take some shots at the same time then put it down. Just leave it alone, this is not the time to be worrying about settings and getting in a faff over light and posing. Practice beforehand to make sure you have an idea of what youre dealing with, that way you know what settings you’ll need. Or just use your bloomin’ phone, I won’t tell anyone. Life is too short and there’s always next year! 


If you’re fairly comfortable using your DSLR but just need a quick reminder of where to start… 

*Keep your shutter speed high and your F number low
*Hike up that ISO
*Set your white balance
*Choose the right lens, I prefer a wider lens at home 24mm or 35mm are my favourites. 


Be a master storyteller. From the moment they wake up, capture the details. The feet running, the little fingers picking at the wrapping paper and the eyes lighting up. The moments of gratitute, the family embraces and the looks of love. That’s what it’s all about. Really.


Learn how to use it. Even your phone has one. Prop it up and please get in the shot with your babies. I promise they (and you) will cherish those photos far more than any perfectly lit/executed frames in years to come. 

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6 Tips For Telling A Story – UK Family Photographery

6 Tips For Telling A Story – UK Family Photographery

National Storytelling Week 2017 28th January-4th February


Words fail me. A lot actually. I’m one of those emotional people that feels everything far deeper than is probably necessary. Sometimes words don’t come easily or quickly enough to convey what I want them to, and that can be frustrating for me. So it’s no surprise I became a photographer, a ‘visual storyteller’ if you will.

Stories, in any form, connect us to our emotions and our humanity. They are what link us to our past. Since humans first walked the earth, they have told stories, before even the written word or oral language. Through cave drawings and over fires, humans have told stories as a way to shape our existence. It’s a universal feature of every country and every culture. On a much smaller scale, each family has a unique story of their own that needs to be preserved. Each tiny moment lived adds to that story. A camera can capture, when the mind could easily forget. Making sure that your family’s story is told in years to come, to your grandchildren’s grandchildren, is easier than ever. Digital technology has allowed us to record every detail in our lives. Our children can flip through snapshots of nearly every week of their lives since they were born. I know my 6 year old can. Each photo invokes an emotion in him, jogs his memory and adds another piece to the puzzle that is his life. One day he will sit with his own children, as we do now, and he will tell them a story about the time in each photo.  When he’s not around, they will have the evidence of a life lived, a character that is familiar or unfamiliar to them. They can tell their own stories based on what they’ve seen. They will become the keeper of our family’s memories.

If you feel inspired to make sure your family’s story is preserved authentically, I’ve got 6 tips for you. These tips are not hard and fast, they are merely suggestions.

1 – Don’t Direct

The stories that unfold in front of us when we just observe, are sometimes far better than anything we can plan.

Storytelling through family photos

2 – Record Everyday Moments

Sometimes the most beautiful and telling stories come from the everyday moments we can take for granted.  Slow down and observe the little day to day moments, because soon you’ll realise nothing is ordinary.


3 – Feel The Emotion

If you can invoke any kind of feeling in the viewer of your photo then you’ve created a story. As humans we are attuned to facial expressions and body language. You might have a split second to capture it so be ready.

using expression in family photos

4 – Use the Environment 

Step back and include any obvious environmental objects that add to the telling of the story. Outdoors and indoors. Don’t worry about the clutter so much in your home. In fact, you can even embrace it. Objects captured in photos can jog memories as much as the people in them can.

outdoor family photography story

5 – Change Your Perspective

Really tell a story by changing your perspective. Getting down lower to take the shot can emphasis scale, vulnerability, intimacy. It helps the viewer relate by bringing out their inner child.

fun family stories

6 – Add Depth

You can tell the viewer that there is more than one important aspect to the shot, without words. Bringing a scene to life, by creating a 3 dimensional feel to a 2 dimensional still image, is a trick that’s not too difficult to master. Having a foreground and background plays to the innate human voyeuristic instinct, which creates impact in a photograph.  


Thanks for stopping by! If you have any questions, comments or would like to see of these posts please let me know below. I’d love to hear from you. While you’re here, take a look around my website and see all the family stories that have been started or added to over the years that I have been a photographer.

5 tips for taking better photos using your phone

5 tips for taking better photos using your phone

andrea whelan photography

As the old saying goes, the best camera you have is the one you have on you.

I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t have my DSLR on me at all times. This doesn’t mean we have to succumb to badly taken photos. It does mean that we have photos that are lower resolution though, so we won’t be able to print them off to billboard size (unless it gets picked up by Apple for it’s “shot on iPhone” ad campaign). Never the less there are some really creative ways to display your phone photos and not just on social media. So if you are one of the millions of parents that use their phone to record events in your life, big and small, you’ll probably want to know how to take better photos using your phone. Here are my 5 top tips:

Choose your focus point

Including a foreground, middle and background is a sure fire way to create a more professional looking photo. Here I just included a bit of the fallen tree in the foreground. It’s not the main focus of the image as it’s blurred and my little boy is in focus. All I did was tap the screen on him before I took the shot and that meant that he was in focus and the tree was not.

Iphone photography

Use the sky as a background

I love using big, clear blue skies in my images. I always try to get down low so the subject stands out against it very clearly against the sky. It creates a kind of silhouette and add interest the photo.

Iphone photography

Photograph everyday moments

creatively that is, keep it simple with as little clutter as possible. The bathroom is a great pace as it’s nice and white and is usually the least cluttered room in the house! (yeah right, I hear you say but just go with it ;D)

Iphone photography

Watch your horizon lines

Keep it as straight as possible and position it in the top third or bottom third of the frame, try not to have it in right in the middle. Also, a top tip: never ever have it running through a persons head. Move yourself so they are above or below, here it’s going through my son’s waist.

phone photography

Look out for interesting stuff

Get yourself into the habit of looking out for interesting stuff, think about how you could use it in your photos. Try different angles and have a play around, what’s the worst that could happen?

iPhone photography

Now that you are shooting intentionally with your phone, you’ll want to make sure you regularly cull, upload and print them. That’s a whole other post you’ll need to read. If you’d like to sign up for the next Beginners DSLR Photography Course for Parents, check out more details here

The Ultimate Photography Gift Guide

The Ultimate Photography Gift Guide

Gift Ideas for him/her/them/you/me


The Ultimate Photography Gift Guide

1) Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer  £109 – Your favourite moments captured on the phone, posted to social media, loved, liked and lurked over… and then relegated to a lonely digital folder for an eternity. That’s sad. Don’t make the photos sad. Make them come to life using this snazzy bluetooth printer. Using no ink!!!! (wait…what?)

2)  Kiko Frames £14 – So you’ve made happy photos. Yay! Make them feel extra special with a fancy Kiko Frame. I LOVE Kiko frames and your photos will too.

3) Camera Necklace  £17 – As quoted from Etsy “This is the cutest camera I have ever seen! A little heart is in place of the lens to express the love of capturing memories. Perfect gift for photographers or those just in love with their cameras and capturing the beauty in the world.” It’s the cutest she’s ever seen… c’mon guys, EVER seen!

4) Tattoos £3 – Scare the bejesus out of your other half and put these on yourself. The reaction will be priceless, before they realise they’re not real of course. Then they might just think you’re weird.

5) Lens Cup £9 – Just make sure the coffee in it looks better than in that picture!

6) A Decent Portrait Lens £132 – Ask any photographer.

7) A Fancy Camera £459 – Go all out. Go on.

8) Cookie cutters $18 – Of course, these are worth ordering in from America. They’re camera shaped cookie cutters. Jeeze.

9) Photo Top for the little one £14 – It’s not just the big people that look good with a camera on them.

10) A camera strap  £20 – This could be a winner!



Okay it’s not an ultimate list. There’s still 10 good solid gift ideas there though!

Of course, the ULTIMATE gift would be a gift certificate for a session with me. It could be a family photography session or it could be a beginners photography session.

Choose your gift…

What DSLR camera should I buy?

What DSLR camera should I buy?

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What DSLR camera should I buy?


During my Photography for Parents Workshop’s I’m often asked “which beginner DSLR should I buy?”. It’s not surprising folks are confused by the offering out there, there’s so much! I’m going to keep it simple and suggest the best in terms of size and capability. You can decide which aspect is more important to you!


Smallest, most light weight DSLR’s

Canon 100d – £346 (including 18-55mm kit lens)
Nikon D3300 – £399 (including 18-55mm kit lens)

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Best indoor, low light capability DSLR’s under £500

Nikon D3300 – £399 (including 18-55mm kit lens)

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Canon 700D – £415 (including 18-55mm kit lens)

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Best serious enthusiast DSLR’s

Canon 750D – £573 (including 18-55mm)

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Nikon 5500 – £599 (including 18-55mm)

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Blow the budget!

Canon 70D – £753 (including 18-55mm lens)

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Nikon D7200 – £953 (including 18-105mm lens)

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Which lens should I buy?

All the prices above include the kit lens, which is fine for starting out and using outdoors, though if you’re doing my course you’ll interested in getting great shots indoors, where the light is sometimes too low for these lenses to cope. I cannot recommend the Nikon and Canon versions of the 50mm f1.8 portrait lens enough for these situations. It’s relatively inexpensive, lets’ more light into the camera and makes achieving the sought after blurry background more achievable.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.08.32

You can save even more money on all of this kit by looking for second hand bodies and lenses on eBay!

Now that you’re all kitted out, why not sign up to attend my photography for parents workshop to learn how to use it!