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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.



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 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.




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!



Eureka - I'm Seventy!

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, May 15, 2015

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Milestone birthdays are fun. Frank’s 70th certainly was.

Held at Eureka 89 it was certainly a top venue to celebrate with friends and family. Not only did everyone have a great time in the elegant space but the location offered the party attendees a fabulous bird’s eye view of Melbourne.

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As the photographer for the night, I arrived early to take the opportunity of photographing the Eureka tower itself and the magnificent panoramas afforded by the floor to ceiling windows. It is a great vantage point from which to view Melbourne and it’s spreading surrounds. You can see as far as the Dandenong Ranges and out into Port Phillip Bay as well as getting a close up view of Melbourne City and all that lies along the banks of the Yarra River.

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Frank’s sister Carol certainly knows how to throw an impressive party.


Portrait of My Mother

Lesley O'Donnell - Friday, March 20, 2015

The hand-coloured image on the left was taken of my mother when she was a young woman before she married Dad and became Mum to me and my brothers.

It is a beautiful photographic portrait of her and, although I treasure it, the face looking out of the image is not one that is familiar to me. After all, as her child, I did not know her in her youth so it has no real meaning for me. Even in my earliest memories she had silvering hair and glasses.

I prefer this studio portrait I took of her sixteen years ago as it represents perfectly how I picture her to be. She was 65 at the time and looks so elegant and youthful; something I doubt she thought herself at the time but on reflection, possibly would now.


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Many years ago I recall a woman of more advanced years coming in to the studio to be photographed. She arrived with her hair and makeup professionally done and had obviously gone to some effort to look her best. When I questioned if there was a special reason for the photos she answered in an unexpected way. She said that she wished to have a beautiful photo of herself to leave her adult children and grandchildren; a surprise they would discover after she had departed this world.

Although I think most families would rather enjoy images as they are taken as well as into the future, her intention struck a deep chord with me.

In this day of hastily recorded phone photography, images are rarely printed and only sporadically, if ever again, viewed on digital devices.

I think the most precious thing all parents can leave is a flattering, professional photograph of themselves for their children, grandchildren, friends and future generations to know who they are. An image to be enjoyed as you walk by and reflect on a person so special in your life.

Contact us here to arrange for your own precious family photos.