Belle Bébés asks… Helen Cornelius

Whether you are a parent wanting beautiful pictures of your children, an amateur photographer looking to learn more about portrait photography or somebody who just likes to read an interesting interview accompanied by pretty pictures, these posts are for you…

The interview

I am Helen Cornelius of HC Photography. I like to have fun through my photography and have a relaxed and natural approach. I love making people happy through my images and I feel very honoured to be able to record such important moments for people, whether it is portraits of the bump, newborn, family or wedding.

Christchurch, Dorset

When and how did you fall in love with photography?
I have had a camera ever since I was about 7 years old! I love my first few images I took of family holidays, the quality is awful on them, but they are hazy and dreamy like memories of when you are small! Ever since then I have always loved photography and went on to study it at University.

Have you had any formal training?
After taking all the wrong (non artistic) A Levels, I was told I would never get on to a Photography degree, but… I proved them wrong! After developing a portfolio of work I gained a place on an Art Foundation course and went on to study at The Arts University College Bournemouth, where I studied for my BA Photography degree.


How would you describe your photography style?
I would describe my style as spontaneous, natural and fun, with a slightly quirky edge! I love beautiful portraits, where you really see the person’s personality shine through. I also like to have fun in my images, so if there is an opportunity for a bit of a laugh, I seize the moment!

What inspires your work?
The people that I photograph inspire me, once you get a hold of their personalities, the inspiration come naturally. There are so many amazing photographers out there right now, I find reading blogs and pinterest really inspiring. I love seeing colourful, happy images and images that evoke a variety of emotions.

When did you first start out in portraiture photography?
I first started out after University in 2004 when I worked for Venture Portraits. This was a great experience and footing on the industry, I learnt technical aspects of studio photography, how to be creative and push the boundaries of my portraits and also how to work with people in a wide variety of ages.

Where in the UK are you based and how far would you travel for a shoot?
I am based in Christchurch Dorset, but am happy to travel within the South, I’m happy to travel further for weddings, destination wedding are on my to do list!


How many portrait sessions do you shoot per year?
At the moment it’s approximately 20, but I can never have enough, keep ’em coming!

Could you please share some details of a shoot you particularly enjoyed capturing?
They are all great for different reasons, especially as a lot of my first baby shoots were close friends having their first babies, but I think it would have to be my oldest friend that I have known since primary school, when I did her maternity shoot with her first baby. It really was fascinating and a very special occasion.

What would be your idea of a dream portraiture shoot?
Oooh that’s a tricky one, I think I’ll be greedy and dream of travelling the world in portraits!

What is your favourite age to photograph and why?
Any age is good really as each age has different qualities and produces different images, as long as they are happy and like to have fun!


What difficulties, if any, have you come across with portrait photography and how do you cope with them?
I think if the little person being photographed isn’t having a good day, you just have to accept it isn’t going to happen that day and re-schedule.

What advice would you give to parents that want you to photograph their little ones?
Choose a good time of day where you feel your little one is at their happiest, I’m more than happy to wait for a feed or change if necessary, anything to get the smiles back! If there is a really lovely place that you like to play as a family a location shoot could also work well.

What camera(s) do you use for your portraiture work?
Canon 5D Mark 2 – it’s my baby.

And your favourite lenses?
50mm f1.4 and 24 – 135mm (mainly use that one for weddings or larger groups).

Do you use any lighting equipment?
I like to use natural light if possible for portraits, but sometimes for baby portraits at home, if needed I’ll use my Bowens light with softbox to create softer ‘studio’ lighting.


What advice would you give to wannabe portrait photographers?
You are the administrator of your own success! Be productive and motivated and it will eventually pay off, let as many people out there know what you do or what you are hoping to do, offer them freebies to get your portfolio going and don’t give up, enthusiasm will get you everywhere and remember why you love photography!

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?
It sounds a little mean, but making people cry is such a rewarding feeling, when you know you’ve stirred up that much emotion in a person, it’s very special!

Out of all the photographs you have ever taken, which is your favourite and why?
It’s hard to pin point one, as if I had it my way, all the walls in our house would be adorned with photos, but I really love this one which is a self portrait silhouette at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, when I was travelling we went to watch the sunrise here, it was truly breathtaking. I love the rich colours of sunrise and the lines and shapes in the image, it feels very spiritual and atmospheric, which is exactly how I would describe Angkor Wat to be.


If you could capture anybody or anything on camera what would it be?
I’ve been fortunate to have travelled the world and have seen some beautiful sights, but really I’d like some more of that please!

Just so we can find out a bit more about the person behind the lens, could you tell me 5 things you like that are completely unrelated to photography?

  • Sunshine (I worship it so much it’s practically my religion).
  • Travelling.
  • Pretty cupcakes (come to think of it…all cakes!)
  • New experiences.
  • Seeing my lovely family.

And 5 things you dislike?

  • Rainy summers.
  • Creepy crawlies.
  • Negativity.
  • London Underground.
  • Time going so fast.


What are your aspirations for the future, in photography or otherwise?
For people to spread the HC photography love and watch my business to grow, both with the weddings and portraits. To get out there and see more of the world creating fantastic memories.

 Heart Debs & Helen

Photographer Details:
HC Photography website
HC Photography blog
Contact Helen
Phone: 01202 489586

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