Family Photos at St Dunstan In The East Church Garden

Family Photos at St Dunstan In The East Church Garden

Introduction: Not another wedding photoshoot at St Dunstan! We’re talking about Family Photography

In July, I had the opportunity to create beautiful family photos with Dayana’s Family. Being my first time at this old church location, I wanted to create a blog post that will give you helpful information if you wish to schedule your session at this hidden gem.

1. The importance of getting in the frame and having a family photoshoot

Capturing pictures of your family is so important to me. But not only because it’s what I sell! 
My parents always had a film camera nearby and I have thousands of photos of me when I was little. But unfortunately, very few of my family and siblings together, which is a deep regret as my parents divorced when I was 5 years old. Please don’t make the same mistake, your children will thank you. And to convince you even more, I’ve listed several reasons why getting in the frame is crucial.

A. Preserving memories: Family photoshoots capture precious moments and help create lasting memories. As time passes, these photographs become a treasured record of your family’s growth, milestones, and experiences. They allow you to look back and reminisce about the good times spent together, strengthening the bond between family members.

B. Celebrating togetherness: In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in individual routines and busy schedules. A family photoshoot serves as an opportunity to gather everyone together and celebrate the unity and love within the family. It allows you to spend quality time with your loved ones, fostering a sense of belonging and creating a sense of shared history.

C. Self-esteem and confidence boost: Being a part of a family photoshoot helps build self-esteem and confidence. Seeing themselves captured in beautiful, professionally taken photographs helps family members appreciate their unique qualities and appearances. It strengthens their sense of self-worth and reinforces the idea that they are an important and valued part of the family.

D. Documenting family dynamics: Family photoshoots provide an opportunity to capture the relationships and dynamics between different family members. Whether it’s the bond between parents and children, sibling relationships, or the love shared between grandparents and grandchildren, these photographs capture the emotional connections that define a family. They serve as a reminder of the love and support that family members have for one another.

E. Leaving a legacy: Family photoshoots create a visual legacy that can be passed down through generations. They become a precious heirloom that future generations can cherish and learn from. These photographs allow future family members to connect with their roots, understand their history, and feel connected to their family lineage.

To sum up, embarking on a family photo session and capturing those priceless moments is absolutely crucial for safeguarding cherished memories, basking in the joy of unity, fostering a strong sense of self-worth and assurance, recording the unique dynamics within your family, and creating an everlasting heritage for generations to come. It acts as a stunning testament to the profound love and extraordinary adventures that set your family apart and makes it truly unique. 

2. History of St Dunstan, when was it built and what happened to it?

St. Dunstan’s Church, also known as St. Dunstan-in-the-East, is located in the City of London, England. It was originally built in the 12th century and dedicated to St. Dunstan, the patron saint of goldsmiths, who was also the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 10th century.
The church underwent several reconstructions and renovations over the centuries. It was badly damaged during the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1695. The church was redesigned with a Gothic-style tower and steeple, and it became a prominent landmark in the area.
However, during World War II, St. Dunstan’s Church suffered severe bombings in the Blitz. The building was devastated and beyond repair. Instead of rebuilding it as a church, the remains were transformed into a public garden. The original tower and steeple were preserved and complemented with new plantings, creating a unique and picturesque setting.
Today, the ruins of St. Dunstan-in-the-East serve as a tranquil and picturesque garden amidst the modern buildings of the business district. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors to relax, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, and glimpse the historical remnants of the church.

3. About my client: a family travel shoot in a unique London location

Dyana’s reached out to me a few months ago to get precious memories captured while she was travelling to London with her family. She loved my style and wanted to be in a historical, yet hidden gem in London. After looking online, we found this gorgeous location, nested in the busy City of London, near the Monument underground station.

We scheduled our session on a quiet Sunday morning in July at 8 am. But as life goes, the little one was feeling ill and we could only shoot for 20 minutes. Nevertheless, thanks to my experience, my client’s responsiveness to pose suggestions and the amazing location, I managed to get a whole session done in this short amount of time. Most of the shots were taken and 44 beautiful photographs were delivered.

4. Why is St Dunstan in the East a great photo location?

I love shooting at this location for multiple reasons that I have listed below:

A. Perfect amount of green for my editing. The pavement and walls are white and grey, with a touch of beautiful ivy growing on its walls. This makes a perfect backdrop, a magical atmosphere with dark and moody spots. Just perfect for my editing style.

B. Small but beautiful location. With lots of different areas to shoot, this location is great for family photos as it offers pose variety with different siting areas. I love using the windows and door arches and capturing photographs at a wide angle.

C. Easy transportation. This photo location is great as it’s within walking distance from the underground but also from the Great Northern Line, which is super handy for me as well as it’s one train from Alexandra Palace, where I live.

D. It’s dead quiet early morning at the weekend. Being in busy Central London, this place is very popular with professionals as it offers a great place to relax if you need a short break from work, but it’s also very popular with tourists and photographers. The first time I went to do some scouting in early summer, it was mid-week at the end of the day and it was packed with people and multiple photoshoots were happening. However, if you come in the first hour of their opening, this place is so quiet, I only bumped into one wedding photographer, who wasn’t near us.

5. What time of the year is best to shoot at St Dunstan in the East? What time of the day should you do the photoshoot?

This location is ideal to shoot all year round, apart maybe from winter, when it’s super cold and trees are bare.

As mentioned in my point above, it’s best to organise your photo session at the weekend, in the first opening hour. For this session, we scheduled the start time to 8 am, as soon as the doors opened.

6. What outfit to wear to the photo shoot at St Dunstan?

If you are planning a family photoshoot with me, I will suggest reading my guides available on my blog. I have made one for spring, autumn and winter. Those guides are complete with photo inspiration and Pinterest boards on what to wear and what to avoid.

I have listed below my main tips to get ready for your family photoshoot at this location:

  • Get Mum’s outfit ready first, it will make it easier to select everyone else’s

  • Select a colour scheme for everyone’s outfits

  • Mum should wear a long flowy dress or skirt, ideally with a pop of colour, like a rich red

  • I love curly and waved long hair, it brings beautiful texture to the images

  • Kids should wear short or mid-length bottoms to let them move freely

  • Wear warm tones, it works better with my editing style

  • Layering most welcomed

  • Play with textures like faux fur, lace, satin, velvet, denim, tweed, etc…

  • Use natural materials like cotton, linen, leather, wool, etc…

  • Stay away from cold colour tones, dark blocky outfits, blazers, tucked shirts and ties

  • Don’t wait last minute to get your outfits ready

  • Make sure your clothes are lint-free and ironed

  • Bring a change of clothes for the little one in case they stain it

7. The best posing idea for family photos at St Dunstan church

If you know my style, I enjoy a lifestyle approach. What is lifestyle? It’s capturing moments that could happen in real life. Forget about stiff posing and awkward looks at the camera. I instead focus on showing the family love and connection by capturing cuddles, loving looks at each other, smiles, tickles and giggles.
My sessions are fun, relaxed and children-led. I take care of your children, we play games and I direct the shoot, so you can relax and take it all in. Take a breath Muma, this time, you don’t have to lift a finger.

8. Get a photography licence to shoot at St Dunstan through City of London website

If you bring paid clients for weddings, portraits, engagements, etc… getting a licence to shoot at this location is needed. You will find posters on all entrances instructing you to do so.

Getting a licence is easy, you fill in a form on the City of London website, link here. However, it’s not cheap! The cost of a licence at St Duncan is £258 including VAT. I very much doubt everyone is getting one but it’s up to you to take your chances if you are planning a session there. 

Conclusion: St Dunstan is an unmissable London location for portrait and wedding photography

Located in the heart of the city, St Dunstan is a one-in-a-kind location for photoshoots in the heart of London.

I really enjoyed shooting there and I hope the information provided here was useful. If you wish to schedule a session at this amazing location, please send me a booking request at the link below.


Related blog posts:

A beautiful winter family photoshoot in Notting Hill

Sharing Parenting Tips with Lea and Hery

Category: Family photography, St Dunstan In The East Church Garden, Outdoor photography
Tags: Family photos, St Dunstan In The East Church Garden, Photoshoot location, Photography tips, Professional photographer, Family dynamics, Family photoshoot ideas


If you’re after a candid, relaxed and intimate photography experience, you’ve come to the right place. 
My work focus on emotions, no stiff poses and forced smile; only gentle love and embraces. I offer a very hands-on experience, connecting over a video consultation with each family beforehand ; we explore their stories of love, loss and wins and turn it into a beautiful, meaningful session. Each family and session are unique and crafted with patience, love and understanding. 

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