The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Photographing the Faerie Child... and Episode 75 of Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres

When she was small, we often called her a faerie child - it felt like Meg always had one foot in another realm.

The fact she has Down's Syndrome of course gives a slight sense of "other" to her appearance, although once she started wearing glasses it "normalised" her eyes a little bit, by slightly obscuring them.

But more importantly, as soon as anyone gets to know her, Meg charms them with her smile, humour and ability to see the best in everyone. The Down's soon becomes irrelevant and is no longer seen as her dominant trait.

And of course, we have been her parents for 23 years so most of the time Meg is just Meg.

But every now and again, if I see her without her glasses, lost in a little world of her own, I am reminded of the wee, otherworldly fairy child, and I wanted to see if I could re-capture something of that.


I began by photographing her at the kitchen table with her favourite flamingo mug. Instructions were to look into the camera without her glasses and without smiling (something that took a few shots to achieve).

This is a set up I've often seen in winning entries in prestigious portrait competitions – encapsulated in a notion of "melancholic stillness".

We then moved outside into the garden. 50mm lens, wide aperture, an overcast day with a soft, dull light – none of the strong shadows I usually like to work with.

Because I was chatting and laughing with Meg in between shots, I wasn't sure what I was really capturing until I sat down and the computer and was able to take a proper look through the images.

And it was here that the otherworldly faerie began to reveal herself again.

I was now seeing Meg in a ways I hadn't for many years, although it was different again.

It could not be the same the same as those early years.

The faerie child had grown up

Enjoy Episode 75 below, where I talk about the editing process of these photos, and give Critique and feedback to images sent in to the Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook Group


2:00 - Welcome, what's coming up, greetings and comments
07:22 - Creating a set of black and white photos of my daughter, and the reasons for taking them
15:57 - Converting to black and white using different "channels" in Photoshop
28:52 - Introduction to the idea of "Critique" in the podcasts
30:20 - Critique of images submitted to the Facebook Group, "Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres"
30:50 - Becca - Framlington Castle - comparing Colour with Black and White edits
41:05 - Nurije - Silhouettes on the water
48:27 - Whether to submit jpgs or RAW files for Critique Submissions
51:13 - Roy - black and white conversions
1:01:10 - Vandana - woman in the lift - to vignette or not to vignette
1:10:12 - Coming up next week
1:10:55 - End

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And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then either email me or join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:


Kim Butterfield said...

She is gorgeous. I often think of my 12 year old granddaughter with DS as otherworldly. She has a unique way of perceiving and interacting with the world.

Kim Ayres said...

Kim - she sounds lovely :)

neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Meg is beautiful. Thank you for sharing so many aspects of who she is. I'm sure if more people got to see your work with her, they will feel inspired by Meg.

Kim Ayres said...

Neena - thank you for your lovely words :)

Adelaide Dupont said...

Hello Kim!

I had not known Meg as a child

and it is indeed a big privilege to know her from your eyes and from hers.

Found you from the Hummingbird blog and am also interested in photography and podcasts.

Faeries have a way of being very THIS-worldly too.

Kim Ayres said...

Adelaide - welcome to my blog! Hope you get the chance to watch, and perhaps join in, the photography podcasts too :)

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