Y’all, I think I survived the busy season. It was busy, but beautiful and I just absolutely love all the wonderful families I’ve met and photographed over the past few months, and throughout 2017. While there is no more opportunity for Christmas photos, I am still taking orders for custom photo books for past clients, that make great gifts for the holidays. I’m also booking January – June of next year on my online booking calendar.
Please don’t let winter scare you away from scheduling family portraits. Just look at this beautiful family I met yesterday in Chapel Hill at their family home. It was just a gorgeous piece of property with the sun shining just right through the trees on this chilly winter evening. I wanted to take these sweet boys home with me. Gillan was so much fun showing me around his land and playing hide and seek with me. I just adore the way three year olds are so in love with exploring the world around them. And he is obviously such an amazing big brother to little Tucker. And oh my gosh…baby Tucker! Just look at those adorable cheeks and that smile. What perfect little boys.
If I had to say what age group is the most challenging for photos, I’d have to say it is big kids / tweens. Most people with toddlers, assume their toddlers are the hardest. Some photographers might agree, but not for me. Toddlers are fast, and always do the unexpected, and will never ever stand in the spot you want them to stand in, but they are always, without fail, 100% authentic.
But by the time they become big kids, children have been conditioned to act in a certain (wrong) way for portrait sessions. They “behave” and stand wherever you ask them to, with this forced, uncomfortable smile on their faces, talking to me through clenched, smiling teeth when I ask them questions.
So I’ve had to find ways to overcome this.
Usually, this means playing and being silly.
Sometimes I think parents must think I’m nuts to have somehow turned their well-behaved children into giggling, energetic goof balls by the end of the session, but honestly I prefer that to stiff children I see at the beginning of a session. I am so thankful to the parents in this session because they stood back and let me guide the children in play and silliness instead of trying to force a certain pose or photo that they had in their heads.
My guidance varies depending on the family, but for this session we discussed what vegetables are gross, embarrassing moments (they preferred to tell me one of a friend’s moments instead of their own, but it still worked), and whether or not Daddy is a good dancer. We raced, played tag and roughhoused. It was perfection. These two twins were just so much fun to watch. I loved seeing them interact with each other and trying to capture the connection between them. And those Freckles!!! ❤️❤️❤️
I just love this session. The colors, the light, the giggles….and it reminded me of the connection between my own girls. I hope that my client loves them as much as I do. I try to capture the kind of images that I want for my own family…not just posed photos of everyone looking at the camera, but those moments between a family….a look, or a giggle, or they way they are naturally holding hands as we move on to our next spot. In one of the images below of the father and the older daughter…they thought that I was only shooting pics of mom and younger daughter, but I saw them hanging out together and just had to take a moment to capture them too when they weren’t looking. My absolute favorite images are at the very end of the session, when the girls were just playing with each other. That pure joy that you can see on their faces is just the kind of thing that truly inspires me. They are absolutely stunning.
Harlinsdale Farms had no less than 10 other sessions going on while I shot this one…probably more like 15. It was insane, but it was SUCH a gorgeous December day. The trick to shooting in such a busy place is to find where you want to shoot that is in the light you want to shoot and try to frame out any unwanted people or elements. That’s not always possible though, especially when you are trying to capture a real connection between active, moving children, so that is where photoshop comes in, to eliminate unwanted people in the frame when absolutely necessary.
I also want to take a moment to point out that these images were shot when Fall was completely gone. There is pretty much no more leaves left at Harlinsdale and everything is mostly dead. This is a winter session for sure, despite the warm weather, but I absolutely adore it. I point this out because so many people are dead set on shooting “Fall” portraits. Well sadly that really pretty season only lasts for a few weeks, but I 100% believe that beautiful images can be created any time of year.
Gah, I don’t want to leave this baby. Can she just come home and live with me? (Her mommy says no.)
I’m so glad I was able to spend Thanksgiving with her though. We have so much to be thankful for this year. My brother and his amazing wife are just wonderful parents to this sweet girl, and she has her big canine sister Barley looking out for her. My girls are just head over heels for their new cousin, and I couldn’t help including a few pictures of them with her at the end of this post.
I could take photos of her all day long. Also, I just love her nursery. Deb did such an awesome job decorating it.
Whenever you book a family portrait session with me through my online calendar, I ask that you answer a few questions to help me prepare for the photo session. The only question that is not optional is the names and ages of the people being photographed (because I study the names in advance). I understand that my clients are very busy, so if you don’t have time to give me a detailed description of little Sally’s likes and dislikes, that’s OK. It’s great for me to know that Johnny loves Dinosaurs or Ann’s favorite TV show is Paw Patrol. Those things help me to have conversation starters with the children, and sometimes help to get a genuine smile. But if you don’t have time to put that, it’s OK…I’ll wing it.
I really love knowing why the photo session is important to you. I remember one family who told me about the rough year they’d each had individually, but that they wanted this photo session to show how they were always there for each other in the rough times and the good. I don’t know why knowing these things helps me with a session, but somehow they do. I guess I feel more connected to the family. I’ve always loved the quote, “I don’t shoot what it looks like…I shoot how it feels.” The more I know going into a session, the easier it is to capture the feelings.
But again, I can get away with not knowing these things if you don’t have time to fill out a detailed survey. But there is one thing that I absolutely NEED to know before your family session.
If you have a child who is very shy, I absolutely need to know this in advance. The reason is that when I read that your child is shy, I automatically know I need to approach her differently. While her sister is chatting my head of about school, and vacations, and puppies, I approach her cautiously, quietly, trying not to overwhelm her. I’ll let her get use to me before I really approach her at all. Then I’ll maybe ask her a few quiet questions and feel her out. I might let her see my camera…or whatever it feels like it might take to help her feel more comfortable. I have all of this in my head before the session, because you’ve told me before hand what your little one needs. It didn’t take much to tell me this…just a few words, but it makes all the difference in the world because if I approach her the wrong way, she could get overwhelmed and shut down. And that’s definitely not what I want.
So take a look at the pictures below. Can you tell which one is the shy sister? No? Good.
And I just want to say that all three of these little girls were amazing. I had so much fun with them. They are totally my happy place. So much energy, and wonder and joy. They were just perfect.
Pam contacted me for a portrait session after I had photographed her grand-daughter Lily at Spring Meadows Academy. She wanted to have photos made with all of her children and grandchildren for Christmas. We had originally chosen an outdoor location, but then decided to move it to the Factory at Franklin because of the cold. The Factory is great because it has some outdoor locations, but then if you get cold, you can go inside for some shots to warm up.
Can I just say that I am falling in love with the color Mustard? I’ve always loved blues in my photographs, but I’ve had several clients lately who have used mustard in their wardrobe choices, and I just really love the pop of color it brings.
I’m going to be real here for a minute…groups this large are hard. Especially with so many young children. My passion has always been for candid images, but with a group this large, the sheer amount of combinations you want to try to get leaves little room for just letting the children play and capturing what happens, but I do try to fit those in anyway. Some of my favorites from this session were at the very end of our shoot when the kids were playing on the chairs in the factory.
But these adorable kids did an awesome job and were so patient. I think my absolute favorite is the photo of all of them taking a sucker break on a long bench. All my little clients know that I travel with Yummy Earth Organic Sucker in my bag, and I’ve never minded including suckers in the photos sometimes, but I kind of adore the suckers in that photo. All the kids are doing their own thing and enjoying their break…not posing at all, just staring at the ceiling or whatever. And then there is 12 year old Dahne just looking at me like “how did I get stuck with all these little kids?” LOL I guess if you know my style, it’s probably not surprising that I love that photo. What about you? What kind of photos are your favorites?
I don’t get to see Chelsea enough these days, so it was so good to hang out with her for her annual family portrait session. For the past two years, I have taken photos of just Chelsea & Molly, but this time, they decided they wanted to include Chelsea’s parents and brother in the session. Are they just a gorgeous family? I adore the colors they chose to wear for this session…and Chelsea’s beautiful scarf really brings it all together.
I cannot get over how old Molly is getting. All my photo babies are growing up. 🙁 Sometimes with tweens, it can be difficult to get real genuine smiles and expressions at photo sessions. By now, they have begun to get that uncomfortable feeling that we as adults sometimes get when a camera is in our face, and adopt the cheesy fake smile. This is primarily our fault as adults for screaming at them for years to “smile and say cheese.” But this time, I had a game plan and brought a secret weapon…my 9 year old. Her methods are unconventional as she stood behind me for half the shoot singing ridiculous songs in a loud obnoxious voice for Molly, but she did manage to help me get some genuine smiles and laughs, so I’ll call it a win.
I just adore these two and love photographing them. Such a gorgeous mother / daughter combo both inside and out. <3