Interview with Adrian Murray: Photographing Your Own Children

Beth Forester


With over 70K followers on Instagram alone, Adrian Murray is a force to be reckoned with. You wouldn’t know it by the artful quality of his photographs, but Adrian sees himself simply as a dad wanting to capture his kids’ lives. As a mother myself, I’ve been so moved by his images, that I just had to reach out to him to pick his brain about capturing such idyllic images of his children.

BETH: I love the storytelling aspect of your images. Before you shoot, do you already have an idea of the story you want to tell or does it unfold in front of your camera?

ADRIAN: The artist in me would like to say that I craft every detail in every image, while the documentarian would like to say that I’m capturing raw moments untouched by my own vision. The fact of the matter is that it’s more of a hybrid of the two. Some images are 90% crafted (I don’t know how to tell a toddler to do anything very specific, but if you do, then you should write a book!), and some photos are prepared opportunities.

What do I mean by “prepared opportunities?” Simply put, when we’re out on a family walk for example, I make sure I have a camera and look for when an opportunity presents itself (light, compositional elements, etc). A perfect example of this is of one of my more recognizable (and copied) images of my son “talking” to his little teddy bear. That morning, we were out at the park. I saw a good location and sat my son down next to his teddy bear. My wife directed his attention to the bear and I snapped the photo. Prepared opportunity.

BETH: Do you have any tips for parents wanting to photograph their own children?

ADRIAN: Always be ready. This can’t be stressed enough. Some of the greatest photographers in history always have a camera around their neck. I’m not saying that you need to do this, but you never know when you’ll get the chance for a great image that encapsulates your family and a moment forever.

BETH: Were you photographed regularly by your parents or grandparents while going up? Has it affected your approach to photographing your own children?

ADRIAN: I only have a few photos that I can really remember from my childhood. My mother raised me on her own and photography wasn’t really a large part of her life. While I understand that her time with me was limited due to her being a single mother, I do wish I had more photos of my own childhood. This probably influenced me a little when I made the decision to capture my own progeny’s childhood.

BETH: A picture is said to be worth a thousand words.  What do you hope your photographs say to your children when they are grown?

ADRIAN: There’s only one word I hope gets through to them: love. I want them to be able to look back on these photos and see that they were the source of so much happiness for their mother and me.  

**BETH: In my experience as a professional photographer, I’ve found that people place great importance on photographs to document their lives. Tell me what your photographs mean to you and your wife.  **

ADRIAN: These photos tell particular stories of our family over time. They present us not only with an image to reflect upon, but we can see our own emotions shine through them. Seeing them even weeks later can bring back those emotions.

BETH: You have so many stunning photographs of your children. Is there one in particular that’s your all-time favorite?

ADRIAN: I can’t narrow it down to just a single photograph. That’s like trying to pick a favorite memory of my children — they’re all so great. A few that I really enjoy are ones that have both of my boys. The two are starting to become best friends and worst enemies — in other words, brothers. One photo in particular caught the first time they held hands and walked together. I recall that as it was happening my wife excitedly whispered, “Are you getting this?!” Thankfully, I had.