It’s been an impossible task of choosing just 16 of my favourite photographs from family sessions to showcase. I photographed so many beautiful families – inside and out, grew as a photographer and a parent (having an inside view on how other parents deal with all the shit that happens when you have kids is a masterclass in parenting like no other) and a person.

I could have easily made this list twice as long, as there were so many beautiful moments, but here it goes. My 16 for 2016 – with brief explanations of why I chose these, and the story to give you a little more context.

little girl pushed on a swing by mum in bishop's park in fulham

I took this when photographing a family in Bishop’s Park in Fulham. It was actually a pretty windy and miserable day, but children, in general, are pretty water-proof, so the typical London weather didn’t stop them from enjoying themselves.

“Enjoying themselves?” you may ask. Well one of the reasons this image of the girl being pushed on a swing is one of my all-time favourites (besides the crazy hair and the fact that I managed a clean frame and excluded all other people from it by sitting on wet and muddy ground and shooting up) is the contrast between the girl’s facial expression, and mum’s obvious joy.

And you know what? This is the EXACT same face that my son has when he’s doing something like being pushed high up on a swing, or riding a carousel. He’s actually enjoying himself immensely, but he doesn’t like to show it.

toddler boy crying for food while mum and dad rush to feed him in Kensington, london

This photograph immediately jumped out at me when I was going through the images following a lovely family photoshoot in Kensington. I captured many sweet moments of this young family enjoying a stroll in Hyde Park while visiting London from Saudi Arabia.

But this photograph of little Bader being so upset about the fact that the food couldn’t come to him quick enough is one of my favourites! It’s such a sweet moment, and is probably so typical of him at this stage, and I’m sure the parents will look back on it and smile for many years to come!

could walking past Victoria Memorial in Central London holding a sleeping baby

This year I captured many families visiting London, and for many of these sessions we went on my signature “London walkabout shoots”. The idea is that instead of rushing from one landmark to another we just work out a route, enjoy a leisurely stroll while taking in the sights of London, with me unobtrusively capturing the experience for them. I love this picture because my clients are very much the part of the crowd, their baby girl asleep in the sling, and the beautiful backdrop of Victoria Memorial in the background. You can see more photographs from this Central London toddler photoshoot here. 

little boy with long hair holding mum's face before a kiss at home in Stockholm

I love this photograph because it’s such a sweet moment between this mama and her youngest son, and something I would have loved to have myself as a mother too. I spent a day with this lovely family in the suburbs of Stockholm, capturing their typical day, from sledging in their backyard to playing board games to playing Minecraft and watching TV. I absolutely loved photographing this family, and the fact that the kids were so relaxed in front of the camera, and just got on with their usual games. You can see more from this family photography session in Stockholm here.

two dads looking at their baby daughter with adoration at home in Richmond, Greater London

This is such a sweet moment and I couldn’t not include it into my 2016 favourites. I got to spend an afternoon with these two dads and their 3 month old daughter shortly after they moved into their new home in Richmond. We played at home a bit and then headed for lunch in the nearby Petersham Nurseries, but it was this relaxed family photograph of them adoring their baby girl that I love the most. You can see more from this Richmond baby photoshoot here. 

baby boy being thrown high up in the air by his dad in Regent's Park, London

I love this photograph of little Mohammad enjoying what babies love most – being thrown up in the air by his dad. It must seem terribly high to him but we of course can see it’s just the tiny little push. We spent such lovely afternoon with this family, photograhing baby’s first visit to London – first in the family’s Hamsptead apartment, and them strolling the streets of St John’s Wood and enjoying a walk in Regent’s Park. You can see more from this Central London baby photoshoot here.

new mother holding baby in a wrap sling at home in fulham, london

This image is truly special. Kate and Luke booked me to capture them and their newborn son Nino just days before he was scheduled for an open-heart operation. Documenting their life, and their bravery in just getting on with the everyday things has definitely put things in perspective for me, big time. I was lucky to catch up with these guys about 10 months later for their Christmas traditions photoshoot and it was great to see Nino thriving, crawling, babbling and generally being super adorable. You can see more photos from Nino’s newborn photoshoot in Fulham here.

a view from above on mum balancing a cup of coffee high in the air while cuddling her two sons in the morning at home in Fulham, London

This bird’s eye view on motherhood is another one of my favourite images from this year. Taken early morning when I just joined this family in their Fulham home for their Day in the Life photography session. Two youngest kids climbing on mum, legs and arms entangled all around her, while she is balancing her morning brew high up in the air. This image encapsulated motherhood for me, and I absolutely love it.

toddler girl pretend sleeping on an arm-chair at home in Wimbledon

I have so many sweet images from this newborn photoshoot but this one of the big sister deciding to take a pretend nap in the midst of playing always makes me smile. For me it’s always those in-between moments that are most precious, and the ones I know parents will look back at in years to come. You can see more from this Wimbledon newborn photoshoot here.

family playing catch at Regent's Park in Central London

I think that a lot of family photojournalism is a mixture of pure luck, but also being able to predict the sequence of events and positioning yourself for the best chance of a great picture. This family was busy playing tag during our photoshoot in Central London, and I was able to see the pattern in the chaos and position myself where I thought they’d be running towards, and prayed I’d be able to catch this sort of frame – and so I did! The little sister was absolutely infatuated with her big brother, and repeated everything he did, and that only adds to the picture for me.

four mixed-race sisters looking over the fence in their back garden in Hampton, Surrey

This photograph may seem directed but in fact it was anything but. As we were wrapping up this family photoshoot in the family’s Hampton home, the girls decided to play a game of ball, the only problem being that the ball was stuck in the swimming pool in the back garden. As they all lined up in front of the fence to watch the dad fishing it out, I quickly climbed over the fence and prayed they would stay that way just a moment longer. I was able to capture several frames before they went back to play, and this is my favourite from the set.

young boy playing with smart phone in a cafe in Esher, Surrey

This was one of my last photoshoots of the year, where we headed to Garson’s Farm to pick the family’s Christmas tree as part of my December “Christmas traditions” photoshoots. After picking the tree the family made a pit-stop in the wonderful cafe, and I kept shooting. For me this picture encapsulates the chaos of parenthood in general, but is also very telling on this family’s dynamics too. The child climbing up is displaying a butt-crack which might see like too much information for some, but according to the mum he always has “plumber bum”, even with the belt, and they love the fact that I managed to catch that. The other child took the opportunity to grab dad’s smartphone while the dad is busy trying to get his youngest in the high chair. To me it’s the perfect snapshot of the chaos of family life. You can see more pictures from this Esher family photoshoot here.

new baby playing peek-a-boo with his newborn daughter laughing at home in wimbledon, london

I’ve been photographing newborns for over 7 years now and I have seen my fair share of early smiles, but Rose was the first newborn to give me an all-out giggle! She clearly enjoyed a game of peek-a-boo with her dad, and I feel so lucky to have been able to capture that moment for them.

family playing little bunnies at home in north london

It’s another one of those moments that are so fleeting and I’m always on the lookout for them when I’m photographing my clients. I’ve spent a couple of hours with these guys in their home in North London as they were playing, cooking, gardening and generally being their awesome and relaxed selves. No prizes for guessing what this little boy’s favourite game is! Sleeping bunnies of course!

cousins playing running through grass on Hampstead Heath in North London

This picture just radiates such joy, and I’m glad I was able to capture it. Hampstead Heath is one of my most favourite places to photograph, but being this big open space it does bring challenges, as the kids tend to disperse pretty quickly and I have to be in top shape to be able to chase them through the long grass while carrying all my equipment. So I might be just a little biased here as just the sheer fact that I’ve been able to run quickly enough to capture this moment makes it one of my favourites! :)

young family changing newborn's baby nappy laughing at home in Kensington, London

Families that laugh together stay together. Especially in the early days of parenthood, when all of the sudden you have this human being that’s dependent on you 24/7. It’s so easy to let the tiredness and lack of sleep get the better of you, so I absolutely adore the parents who manage to keep laughing through it, nasty nappy leaks and all, and these guys were one of those parents. It was one of the last shoots of 2016, and a great way to finish the year!

Hope you enjoyed this little round-up of my favourite images from 2016. Which one is your favourite? Share in the comments!

I’m Antonina Mamzenko – a natural light newborn, baby and family photographer based between London and Surrey. I specialize in creating candid, natural family photographs with zero cheese and no posing. I work all over London and Surrey, including Cobham, Esher, Thames Ditton, Richmond upon Thames, St Margarets, Twickenham, Teddington, Hampton, Kingston upon Thames, Surbiton, Kew, Chiswick, Putney, Fulham, Wimbledon, Holland Park, Kensington, St John’s Wood and Hampstead. Find more information about my photography sessions or get in touch to check availability and book your family photoshoot.

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