I’ll be honest. I don’t love Valentine’s Day.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a BIG romantic at heart. I sobbed my way through The Bridges of Madison County, I binge on Outlander (the books – although the show’s nice too) and as a teen, I thought Arwen and Aragorn were #relationshipgoals personified.

But the pink heart explosion, rose petals, Hallmark cards and teddy bears and the obligatory romance make me feel pretty nauseous.

Sure, if it’s your jam and you use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to get a babysitter, finally get out of the house and spend some one on one time with your other half – then you do you, and don’t let anyone stop you.

But it’s just not for me and I tend to just ignore the day. And I don’t know about you, but I’m still recovering from Christmas so all I really want to do is be in my pyjamas at home watching a good show anyway.

For me, love is in the everyday acts. In waking up before your spouse on a Sunday and taking the kids out so she could have a lie in. In holding the baby so that he could enjoy his meal in peace. In working as a team, and in laughing together.

As a family photographer I’ve been fortunate enough to document the lives of hundreds of families from across the world. The most precious photographs for me are always the ones that are real. The ones where I didn’t stage them, haven’t shared a funny joke that made everyone laugh, or asked them to cuddle up together under a pretty blanket that was bought specifically for the photoshoot and means nothing to the family.

For me the most beautiful family photographs that show LOVE happen when you are just you, and you do the things that you do.

Here’s what family love looks like through my lens.

Love is… making sure they brush their teeth really, really well (even if they don’t like it)…

Love is…  Pretending you can’t find them during hide-and-seek…

Love is…  Wrangling a toddler together to give him the medicine that he needs (but won’t take)…

Love is… Pretending you are very hungry and would really like that cereal…

Love is… Sharing your ice-cream on a very very hot day…

Love is… Giving them a piggy-back ride even if they are getting too big and heavy for it…

Love is… Reading the same book every night (and even doing all the voices) because your kid loves it…

Love is… Playing “Hop Little Bunnies” when all you really want is to chill out on a sofa in front of a TV…

Love is… Teaming up to change that first poo-nami diaper… and laughing about it together…

Love is… Multitasking like a pro and cutting your daughter’s nails while feeding the baby…

Love is… Teaching them how to ride that bike (and giving your other half a break)…

Love is… Washing those wriggly toes late at night when all you want is to just go to bed already…

Love is… Letting them squish your face again and again (and again)…

little boy with long hair playing with his mothers face

Love is… Holding the baby so your husband can enjoy his cake…

Love is… Being there for them, no matter how old…

Love is… Fixing that cut for them…

Love is… Getting that baby fed…

Love is… Laughing together, always…

Love is… Team work taken to a whole new level…

Love just is…

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.