Dean's first ever baby portrait

Hi. Dean here.

I was going through some old hard drives the other day at home, cleaning out the messiness and backing everything up (the reason for that is a whole other story!)  and I found a special photo. I'll share that in a sec but thought for a laugh I'd share a bit about how it came about.

Did you know that before I became a full time professional photographer I worked in the childcare sector, both here in Hobart as well as overseas? Well, now you do!

This was an absolutely amazing foundation for what I do now. Spending so much time getting to understand the complexities of children at their different stages in life, helps me to be able to make any child who comes to visit me for a photoshoot, totally relaxed and comfortable.

In the early 2000's I did a traineeship here in Tasmania at Lady Gowrie Childrens Services which was fantastic. I still have many great friends from this chapter of my life. Some of which I have even had the opportunity to photograph here at the studio. I have also been able to create some portraits of the children I looked after as babies which is so cool. I'm always amazed at how quickly they have grown up! 

This is me in 2005 playing the Udu drum for the kids at Lady Gowrie. You'll have to google 'udu' to find out what that is ;) And yes, that is one of my didgeridoos in the background. If you ask nicely, I'll play it for you one day. 

Below, is me at my first UK nursery (child care centre) wearing an apron at lunch time. Even though the children brought their own packed lunch, wearing this was mandatory. I promise!

Throughout my whole childcare career I photographed the children I looked after as a part of documenting their days. I knew nothing about photography but a lot about kids so was pretty enthusiastic to learn. This is really how I got a taste for being a children's photographer. 

My last job in the UK was as a teacher-aide in a Prep class in the south of Wales. It was a beautiful time in my life as I watched my wife's belly grow until I became a dad. I won't show you her belly but I can show you my Poppy at 6 days old.   

A few months earlier, in September 2006 (so nearly 8 years ago - wow - seems like yesterday) I was asked to photograph the baby brother of one of the kids in the class I taught. His name was Harry and he was 6 months old.

I charged them 50 Pounds (about $125 then) and I had no idea what I was doing. I had only recently bought a digital SLR on ebay but that was all I needed. That, and a peach.

After a brief chat at school at pick-up time, we planned to meet at their house and then go outside for a play and a bit of a photoshoot.

The night before I meticulously cleaned my camera. charged the batteries, formatted the cards and packed my bag. I was so prepared but really,  looking back now, I had no idea what I was doing. What could possibly go wrong?

I got there early.

It rained. 

A lot. 

Like constant sheets of water drenching the earth. That's a bit dramatic but English rain can be intense and this was. Constant and relentless.

Anyway, so my trusty, pregnant, assistant and I hooked up a blanket in Harry's tiny living room and I got out my camera. 

Harry cried. His big brother (who I knew quite well) ran off to his room. The mum looked at me… this was not going well.

After a bit of coaxing, big bro came out and helped me make Harry a bit happier by giving him a peach. I don't know why, but a peach.

So, here is my first ever commissioned baby portrait.

I call it - "Harry with a peach"

A lot has changed and I have had the opportunity to create portraits of hundreds of beautiful children over the last 8 years. This will always be a special image for me though because I can clearly remember Harry's mum wiping a tear from her eye when she saw it for the first time. Maybe it was that moment that I knew I was going to continue to give that feeling to as many people as I can.

My love for exploring the personality of the children who I have the privilege to photograph has only grown stronger. Every child is unique and that needs to be celebrated.


Dean Mansbridge is a father or two young kids and a qualified early childhood teacher. His fun and emotive style of photography has won him plenty of awards (like the TAS Family Photographer of the year for the last 4 years) and his portraits adorn the walls of hundreds of Tasmanian family homes.
If you have been considering having portrait artwork created of your children or family, don’t hesitate to give him a call today on 6223 1155.