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Work / Photography

Three brothers on a summer adventure in Neil Bedford’s new series for Kinfolk

Photographer Neil Bedford’s latest series Are We There Yet? for the new issue of Kinfolk is an absolute summer dream. Capturing three boys as they go on a road trip, we see them skimming stones, napping in the back seat and constantly play-fighting. “We headed just 30 minutes outside of London to Epping Forrest, a place I’d never been but thought the idea of travelling to a forest for three young boys would be exciting,” Neil explains.

As part of the magazine’s Family issue art director Anja Verdugo got in touch after she’d seen a mini series Neil had shot in Tennessee with his cousin Karley. “I’ve been shooting for Kinfolk for some time now, normally being commissioned to shoot portraits series’ for them,” he says. “So it was nice to have the opportunity to shoot something that had stemmed from personal work, outside of my normal studio environment.”

There’s a warmth to this series that’s carefree and mischievous. The friendship is palpable and it was important to Neil to convey this throughout the photo essay. “I wanted to show the bond between three brothers and the various emotions that would stem from a long afternoon on the road,” he explains.

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?

“It was really important for me to not produce a series of images that didn’t come across real or honest. It had to be believable otherwise I wouldn’t have shot it as I don’t want to make pictures for the sake of it.” This search for authenticity is also why he chose to shoot the series without colour. “I’ve always felt the best documentary images are in black and white. For me, the best way to convey a story about real life is to take the colour away from it.” 

Neil watched films such as Stand By Me, Ritchie Rich and The Goonies to help him understand how adventures were conveyed to kids without being patronising. But Neil found it fascinating to see their interpretations of what he needed them to do. “Asking one of the brothers to gently pull his younger brother’s hair and then watching it turn into a full on Wrestlemania style fight in the back of a Jag was a bit of a learning curve.”

“Kids have an energy that I find infectious – it’s completely different to working with adults”

- Neil Bedford

Neil’s captured the excitement between the three boisterous brothers perfectly and found working with them equally as spirited. “They have an energy that I find infectious and it’s completely different to working with adults,” Neil says. “One minute you’re talking to them about the latest cartoon or toy, then the next you’re trying to direct them into the mental headspace you’d like them to be and asking them to stop giggling.”

The joy and nostalgia felt when looking at this series instantly transports you back to childhood where a car journey to a new place felt almost magical and Neil used his own memories to help inform the series. “Growing up, my parents used to take me and my brother on British holidays so I spent a lot of time in the car being driven around the country,” he says. “Also, I grew up near a woods so spent loads of evenings during the summer playing in trees, building swings or making dens, so knew that I’d be able to connect with the boys with those stories.”

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?

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Neil Bedford: Are We There Yet?