Let’s tell stories….. A Review of Colie James’ ‘Telling Stories with Lifestyle Photography’.

As someone who is just starting out as a family photographer I  have been following a lot of forums where photographers post weekly favourites or submit pictures on a theme. Every time Colie James posted, her pictures just leapt out at me. They are always real life but somehow fresher, brighter, and with more spark. I had seen a lot of ‘lifestyle’ photography where the real is cleaned up into something beautiful, but is unattainable for the everyday documentation I wanted to be good at. Our apartment, as wonderful as it is, with it’s Nutella palm prints and my losing battle with overflowing toy-boxes, just never quite looked right for a picture. And then I saw a picture of Colie’s daughter dancing. The whole story is right there in one perfectly composed frame, and feels joyful and spontaneous because there are toys on the floor. I knew I really wanted to learn from Colie’s storytelling photography.

Before Christmas I was with Ville and the kids in a hotel room in Konya, a Turkish city an hour from us by plane, when I spotted that registration for Colie’s next workshop would begin the next day. I was so determined to get a place.

The workshop was everything I hoped it would be and a lot more. Every aspect of it is carefully designed so that I felt I made huge progress without ever feeling overwhelmed. The hand-outs alone are worth the cost of the entire workshop. The detailed information about workflow and session questionnaires is priceless. The tasks had me stretching myself while feeling thoroughly supported, and I was delighted with the results. The weekly feedback is clear and thorough. I feel that I have become better at telling our story, and the story of the families giving me the privilege of capturing theirs.

I think when I started the workshop I thought (hoped!) that by the end my pictures might look a bit like Colie’s. What she actually did for me was give me more confidence to be myself, and a lot of new skills and information to go forward with. I was also very excited to be asked to join ‘The Stories we Tell‘ collaborative blog with other past students.  If I had to describe Colie in one word, that word would have to be ‘generous’. I felt that I got so much more than I paid for, and since the workshop that I have been added to the wide circle of people that have learnt from and are inspired by her.  I know that I will still be using lessons learnt in this workshop many years from now.

Here is a few frames from our story over the past couple of weeks:

The slivers of light at the start of the day because there is another tall building half a meter from ours.

The pleasures of a trip to the top of the Golden Horn.

The theatrical delight of buying an ice-cream on Istiklal Street.

‘Driving’ trains at the Koç Teknical Museum.

Exploring the art in one of the many galleries in Beyoglu..

And playing in our two local ‘parks’, the Sufi graveyard in Galata, and riding lions in Gülhane.




Fiat train

train driver




considering clover


red coat


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *