Photographer documenting her family during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 15:59 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:59 20 July 2020

Photo by Nina Callow

Photo by Nina Callow


Nina Callow reveals why she’s documenting her family’s life in lockdown

Name: Nina Callow

Job title: Freelance photographer

Based: Bexley

Tell us about you

I’ve lived in Bexley for the last 18 years. Photography has always been part of my life. I used to have little Lumix cameras, but used them so much I wore them out. I ‘see’ photos everywhere. My husband bought me my first DSLR camera and shortly after that I won a John Lewis photo competition. Around the same time, I became inspired by some American photographers who were taking everyday, documentary style family photographs. It set me off on a massive journey and I started training formally. I’ve now done lots of courses and taken thousands of pictures. I started my photography business about five years ago and spend half of my time doing commercial shoots and the other half working with families either in their homes or on location.

Life before lockdown?

I have three boys, Ollie 16, Tom 14, and Jack 11 so every day I had a school run that took me about three hours, as it involved two different schools, and I had to work around that. The week before I went into isolation I carried out a documentary photo shoot for a London-based estate agent, photographed some twins in my home studio, worked for an events company and took some head shots. I also spent a lot of time editing and taking bookings for outdoor family photoshoots.

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow

What do you love most about your job?

Being able to get someone, or a family, to relax and feel comfortable in my presence. I love being able to build relationships with people and capture real emotions.

Why do you want to document your family?

Everyone’s lives have changed enormously, and I wanted to capture it. With three boys, my husband Dan and Milo my house rabbit at home, we’ve had to adapt to being around each other all the time and move furniture around to create workspaces. I want to be able to look back and remember the reality of it all.

A typical day now?

My biggest challenge is making sure everyone has everything they need, keeping three different sets of school lessons on track, feeding everyone twice a day and trying to clean up. Some days it’s really tough, especially when you add in all the technical issues connected to schooling and the feelings of isolation through not seeing friends. But I’ve realised I can do it and the boys are capable of doing chores. Dan also helps whenever he can but he’s a credit trader and works really long hours. It’s also a job that needs a distraction-free environment. Not something that’s easy to get with three boys in the house, especially when one of them has Zoom trumpet lessons! He’s trying to cut back a bit though so he can accompany Jack on daily bike rides. I love to go walking but getting the older two to exercise is difficult.

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow

Has it made you look at your work differently?

It’s made me go back to my roots, to the type of documentary photos I love. I want to portray something really honest. I don’t want to move things out the way like I usually do. I want everyone to see that life at the moment is not perfect, everything’s not tidy and Instagram worthy. It’s more about storytelling. I’ve also been able to experiment with taking photos from above, which I’ve wanted to do for a long time. A brilliant American photography blog I follow explained how to make a cardboard cradle for a mobile that you stick to the ceiling. I love the different perspective it offers and have used it when we’ve been making crafts or cooking. The next one I want to take is of my son and I when we snuggle down to watch a movie.

Top tips for coping?

Try to ensure everyone has a space of their own. Be aware that everyone’s going to have a meltdown at some point. Be willing to let some rules slide. Don’t worry about the state of your house. No one’s going to see it.

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow

Photo by Nina CallowPhoto by Nina Callow


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