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Photographing 50 Years Together

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, February 10, 2017

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One of the most rewarding things for me as an established portrait photographer is being there to photograph families as they evolve. 

My journey with this family began last century when I photographed Mary and John’s wedding in 1999. Not that long ago really, but it is fun to be able to make that reference back to the days when weddings and portraits were photographed with larger cameras and the magical medium of film.

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Over the years since then it has been the greatest honour to have photographed the significant milestones in their lives: from pregnancies, newborns, toddlers, growing children and this time to record Mary’s extended family who gathered to celebrate her parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.

I love these occasions as they cement what loving families are all about. Family. 

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Pappous John elected a formal pose with a serious expression in the photos but his grandchildren were privy to the secret words and antics that drew an unguarded, reactive smile from him. Priceless!

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The four grandchildren have such a lovely rapport and friendship with each other and it was a joy to witness their ease around one another and indeed with their grandparents whom they clearly all adore.

John and Mela’s home is decorated with family photos and I am thrilled that now a collection of these latest family portraits will be proudly displayed for all to enjoy.



Family Portraits of 50th Wedding Anniversary

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Families mean everything to our older citizens and these days many of them are lucky enough to be living with three or four generations enhancing their lives. Nino and Lucy are one such fortunate couple.

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They recently celebrated 50 years as a married couple by having professional portraits taken together and with their children and their families. 

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The delight for me was how Nino portrayed himself formally in every grouping until he and Lucy had their two granddaughters, Contessa and Olivia, to themselves. Then he couldn’t retain his delight and burst into an unrestrained smile. Actually, I think I would call it a beam that spread from ear to ear! Just gorgeous!


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Personal Impressions Photographs 90th Birthday Celebrations

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, May 09, 2016

This past December I accepted a portrait assignment on Christmas Day. No-one has ever requested this before and at first I was a little hesitant about taking it on as to do so would interfere with my own social diary and a commitment I had already made to a friend.

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However, this request was a little different as my client’s mother was turning 90 on the actual day. Usually her birthday is overshadowed by seasonal festivities but Margaret decided that Joan’s significant birthday should receive the most attention. After all, it is not everyday that one is lucky enough to celebrate nine decades of life.

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I have to admit that I am so glad I decided to share a couple of hours with Joan on her birthday. It was a very special day and I had so much fun with her and the four generations of her family she is so obviously proud of. Before they all arrived I had the great pleasure of photographing Joan by herself and sharing a glass of fine French champagne with her  and Margaret from the first bottle opened that day. I suspect many more corks were popped as the day progressed.

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Age is certainly no barrier to looking good and this very elegant woman put considerable effort into presenting well for her birthday celebrations. She looked splendid in a newly purchased turquoise and cream coloured outfit from her favourite boutique. Her daughter Margaret then incorporated this colour as the basis for the decorations for her birthday. Offset with purple, yellow and white flowers the decorations were bright and cheerful and set the mood for the day.

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Margaret’s four children, their partners and their five little ones all made quite a fuss over Joan and it was such a pleasure to see how each of them delighted in her company and acknowledged what a treasure she is to their family.



Family Portraits in Melbourne City

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, January 04, 2016

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“Mum, that was so much fun! Can we do it again next weekend?” Who would expect to hear these words escape from a young girl’s lips after we wrapped up her family photography session? 

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How absolutely satisfying for me to know that this family of four so enjoyed the whole experience of being photographed - getting dressed in their favourite outfits, their trip into the city, discovering secret Melbourne with it’s historic buildings and stunning parks, sharing laughter and stories and in the end having great photographs with which to recall it all.

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I have to admit that I delight in seeing my clients through my camera lenses. I also enjoy showing them what it is that I see - their uniqueness and their connectivity with those they love and treasure.

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Both Georgia and Chloe are involved with various forms of dance and are used to being photographed in their colourful costumes striking perfect poses. However, for their family portraits, they got to be more natural without their stage makeup and to simply be young girls having a genuinely good time.

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An interesting thing happened for Yvette and Paul during their photography session when they spotted their wedding photographer from 20 years ago creating his magic with another couple. It was a thrill for them to wander over and reconnect with him.

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The fun I share with my clients while I am preserving their memories is exactly why I am a photographer. They allow me to experience different places, capture their worlds creatively while sharing a couple of hours simply having a hoot of a time. What could beat that?!



Please contact us to arrange your own family portraits.

Melbourne Studio Family Portraits

Lesley O'Donnell - Saturday, October 10, 2015


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You have BRAINS in your HEAD 

You have FEET in your SHOES

You can STEER YOURSELF any direction YOU CHOOSE


Oh the Places You Will Go - Dr Seuss


When you are in your twenties the whole world is literally at your feet. Adventure, travel and the time to declare yourself as an independent adult. It is the time when you can finally make all your own decisions and choose your own direction in life. It is such an exciting decade.


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However, for families it can also mean the end of all living together under one roof and a time when parents must let their children go and begin their own individual life journeys.

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Having young adult children is also a significant time to have a family portrait taken.

This is what Rhonda and Greg decided as their daughter Emily heads off on a scholarship to study overseas and their son Sam searches the world for an opening where he can use his academic qualifications.


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I have photographed this family several times in the past when Sam and Emily were younger and it was such a pleasure to meet them again as young adults. They must have been easy kids to live with because Greg and Rhonda still look as youthful as when I met them more than 20 years ago and don’t seem to have changed at all!


Family Portraits at Hedgeley Dene, East Malvern

Lesley O'Donnell - Thursday, October 08, 2015


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I am amazed at how young people, and girls in particular, no longer seem to feel the cold. The need for coats seems to have bypassed the younger generation, even during what has been declared as Melbourne’s coldest winter for 26 years.


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On a recent chilly day I found the need to wrap myself up in a warm jacket when I ventured out to photograph this family in Hedgeley Dene Gardens and Central Park in East Malvern. However, as you can see, Katie and Rachel are much more immune to the cold than me and they made it look like we had taken their photos in summer.

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These two stunning teenage girls obviously take the slip, slop, slap message seriously as both have beautiful alabaster skin. This feature looks great contrasted against their dark singlet tops. Maybe due to the common trend of taking selfies, Katie and Rachel were both very comfortable in front of the camera which made the session all the more fun.


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I have had the immense privilege of watching these girls grow up since they were tiny babies and I always love it when their parents, Karen and Mark, engage me to update their family photos. It’s always a fun outing and I love looking back through their professional photo albums to revisit their life journey so far.


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This time round they had a new member of the family to include in their photos. You can read about Lily on my website Pet Shots Photography which is devoted to pet photography.


Photographing a Yoga Retreat

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, October 07, 2015

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Recently I had a little break from business and went on a yoga retreat hosted by my good friend Susie Mioni from Yoga2Liv.

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Lawson Lodge in Macedon, her chosen venu for the retreat, certainly lived up to it’s promise of getting away from city life and it’s incumbent stresses. Set on it’s own private golf course, the nine bedroom house was luxury on a stick. We had the entire spectacular property to ourselves and it made me feel like I was completely removed from the world.

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Domestic duties were on hold for the weekend as every meal was catered for, with Susie providing the delicious breakfasts and Sophia Kokkolis and her assistant Simone cooking healthy vegetarian Greek dishes for midday and evening meals.


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The lodge has a club house with a room looking out over a stand of gum trees - so perfect for our yoga and meditation classes.


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Susie was a fabulous teacher with clear, helpful demonstrations and instructions and calm patience with those of us who had limited experience of yoga. We all loved participating in her classes and reaping the benefits of doing so.


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Apart from participating in every class, I also had time to indulge in photographing all the flora, fauna and beautiful gardens and vistas that surrounded me. That, in itself, was meditative and relaxing.


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It was a top weekend and I am looking forward to the next yoga retreat Susie hosts. You just might like to join us next year.

Family Portrait Photography

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, October 05, 2015

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I am one lucky portrait photographer. I have great clients who share wonderful experiences with me as I go about photographing them!


I have known many of them for a decade or two and have had the privilege of watching their families grow up and see the children mature from newborn babies into teenagers and young adults. It is very rewarding for me to share in this and provide families with a unique pictorial history of their families.


I love it when I walk into their homes and see a gallery of photos representing my interpretations of their ever-changing family life. This family is one of those special ones.


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Ruby, their oldest, is only 10 but it means I have photographed her and her brothers Patrick, Lewis and Timothy several times now since she was born. Each time we share a little more and our relationship strengthens. I love that!

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Elissa chose me to begin photographing each of her four children when they were six months old. She was always in some of the photos but her husband Simon never was. So this time round we decided it was time for the complete family to be photographed; pets and all. (Read what Elissa had to say about her photography)

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What a wonderful day we shared at their country property! I intended to be there for perhaps the entire morning. However, after being invited to stay for a tasty home cooked lunch under their signature golden elm tree, I was seduced into staying on for quite some time longer, taking photos of the kids as they played during the afternoon. 


(Click here to read another story about these kids and their cousins).

Such great company, a stunning location in which to photograph and wonderful hosts who were simply fun to spend the day with. A great day in the country that will certainly remain memorable for me.

If you would like photos of your own family please contact me so we can have a chat about what would be special to you.




Carefree Cousins

Lesley O'Donnell - Wednesday, September 30, 2015
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What a joy it was to photograph the active young members of these two families.

With ample space to run with abandon, races to ride on their bikes, horses to jump and care for, trees to climb, dogs and cats to cuddle, balls to kick or throw back and forth, nooks and crannies to explore, huts to be built, jokes and quieter moments to share with each other, these kids had so much fun while I was taking their photos. This is what weekends spent at their country property regularly bring to these city cousins.

Playing imaginatively outside until sundown falls or mealtimes beckon brought freedom, fun and squeals of abandoned laughter (and possibly the odd conflict). Observing the carefree abandonment of these kids as they played took me right back to my own childhood and the fabulous memories of times shared with my own cousins.

Photographing these seven young characters in their own adventure playground was such a hoot and I loved every moment I was with them.

The company of close cousins is a bond to treasure and one that stays with you throughout your whole life. 


If your kids have this kind of connection with the children of your brothers and sisters, you just might want to engage me to capture the magic in your family. They will love you for it when they are all grown up.




Pregnancy to Parenthood

Lesley O'Donnell - Monday, August 31, 2015

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Now, here’s a great gift idea for expectant parents! 

A professional pregnancy and newborn photography session was given to this young couple by a thoughtful, inspired friend. She knew this would be a gift they could, and would, treasure forever. A gift that would enable them to recall, well into the future, their excited anticipation and dreams associated with becoming new parents.

Emma and Chris chose a beach location for their pregnancy photos so we headed off to Port Melbourne pier one beautiful sunny day. It proved to be the perfect spot to have their maternity portraits taken. They could snuggle up together in the dunes, walk together on the sand, paddle in the lapping waves and enjoy the romantic sunset from the pier.

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Emma looked stunning in her body-hugging dress and I just love this image of her standing at the water’s edge. She looks so happy!

A little while later I was thrilled to meet the babies. Yes, the two of them! Two little boys to fill this couple’s hearts with double the joy.


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Newborn brothers Jackson and Oliver were such a delight to photograph and being in their presence kept me smiling for the rest of the day. Don’t you just love the way they nestled affectionately into each other in the comfort of the studio setting?

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So incredibly cute!