So I went from celebrating Lincoln’s 5th birthday with photos on Thursday, to Haley’s 11th birthday yesterday. Isn’t she just gorgeous? I love, love, love the red shirt on her. It’s perfect with her eyes. I enjoy photographing this pre-teen age group. I think it’s an often over-looked age group when it comes to professional photos. We always photograph our babies and little kids, and then again when they are Seniors in high school, but often the middle years are less documented.
A few weeks ago, I went to a photography conference in Atlanta. One of the workshops I took was specifically on capturing tweens and teens. The photographer who taught the class, Neely Ker-fox, had a specific package in her business that focused on photographing this age group at home, focusing on the connection with their parents. I thought it was beautiful and very inspiring.
Another class I took at the Click Away conference was called “Your Voice, Your Vision” with Caroline Jenson. For that class, we had to submit 3 of our favorite photos to the instructor before the class. During the workshop we reviewed each others photos and talked about how the photos we picked gave some clues as to our photographic vision…things that we were drawn to in photography, whether we realized it or not.
Some of the things that the instructor and my classmates said about my images were that I was drawn to bold, colorful images and strong black and white edits. That was no surprise to me. But one thing that the instructor said that stood out to me is that all the photos I chose had at least two people in them. I guess I kind of new that, but it was interesting to have it pointed out. I do very much prefer photos that show a connection between two or more people.
I thought about that as I edited these photos I took for Haley’s birthday. Even though I love the photos of just Haley, who is gorgeous, all of my favorite photos were of Haley and Christy together. This is true for me even when you can’t see a lot of Christy in the photo, but she’s there…I love the way Haley is looking at her mom instead of at the camera. You can just see the love there.
As I sit here on the super cold morning, I miss the perfect Fall day we had just two days ago. I wanted to take the chance to talk about when to book a family portrait session if including fall colors on the trees is important to you. I wrote about this last year, and none of that information has changed, but if bears repeating. I still have many clients who assume October is the best choice for Fall color.
First of all, I want to say that any time of year is perfect for a family portrait session. The important thing is to get them done, and to do it regularly, preferably at least once a year as our littles ones grow so fast and are constantly changing. Beautiful memories can be captured any time of year. I’m now booking January photo sessions, and those can be absolutely beautiful (you just need to dress warmly!)
With that being said, lots of my clients really want that gorgeous fall color, and ask me when they should schedule family portrait sessions to get that color. I always hesitate to answer because mother nature is unpredictable and I cannot promise you we will get beautiful fall color at all. Sometimes, an early freeze or drought conditions or other things can put a damper on that beautiful autumn color.
But I can tell you, after some experience and actual forecasts, when to schedule your session to get the best chance of gorgeous color, and that is the first or second weekend of November (the last weekend in October is a good second choice). That’s when our fall colors peak here in Middle Tennessee. I find a lot of clients who assume it happens a lot earlier than that, and that’s probably because it does up north. Our friends in Michigan saw their autumn peak several weeks ago (and now they are getting snow!).
I said all of that same information last year, and here, as further proof, is one of my sessions from Sunday, November 10. I adore this family and loved getting to hang out with them again. I’m thrilled they were able to book this session and indeed did get gorgeous fall color.
To our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, God bless you and thank you.
How fitting that I’m sitting here writing this blog post on Veterans Day. Jennifer wanted to schedule this session because her husband will soon be leaving for military training for six months. She wrote “I would just love some memorable family pictures that my girls and myself can look at while he is gone and just have a fond memory and smile.”
She snagged a spot that had opened up fairly last minute because I had a client that needed to change to a different date. I’m so glad she did. I had photographed the family a couple years ago and it was so great to see these sweet girls, and how much they had grown.
The day could not had been more perfect, and we had a blast exploring and playing in the leaves. I love their energy so much. I couldn’t help but smile while I edited these pictures of their sweet family, and hope that they will be able to look upon them with fond memories during their time a part.
To all of those who serve our country, and to their families who support them, thank you for your service. 🇺🇸
If you book a family portrait session with me most times of year, one of the questions on your booking paperwork will ask you where you’d like to shoot the photo session. I have a page on my website that will tell you about locations I frequently use, and I’m here to help you if you want it.
But you may notice that if you book a session for a weekend in October or November, that I’ve already chose a portrait session location.
The reason for this is that in the busy season, I generally book 3 back to back sessions on the weekend, with only about 15 minutes between them. This is just enough time for me to switch memory cards, so I don’t have time to drive to another location between sessions.
I used to let the first client who booked a particular date choose the location, and then those who booked the date after that would have to agree to that spot. But this complicated the booking process.
Also, I have more requirements for long shooting days than I have for just magic hour sessions. For the rest of the year, most of my sessions are scheduled for the hour before sunset…known in photographer lingo as “magic hour”. Magic hour lighting is pretty great anywhere. But when I am booking sessions earlier in the day, then I have to be sure that a location has some shade available, because the sometimes harsh sunlight of earlier in the day is not ideal for photos. But the proper location can allow a shaded spot from which the sun comes through the trees beautifully.
But for this session and the two before it, the bright sun wasn’t a big concern because it was a nice overcast day.
These two sweet brothers did an amazing job for their session. Those eyes! How can you not smile from looking at them?
The last time I blogged about this beautiful family for their Fall family portrait session, I left out some information. Mallory had told me before her session that she was in the early stages of pregnancy. I wasn’t sure if that was public knowledge or not, so I didn’t’ mention it in the blog post.
But here we are, not quite a year later, and this lovely family has an adorable new addition. I’d been following baby Mia and big sister Margot on Instagram, and was so excited to be able to finally meet her. (If you aren’t following me on Instagram, please do! I’d love to interact with you there.)
These girls were just the sweetest and did a great job at their photo session. We ran into a little trouble with my location being over-crowded but we moved around a little and made it work.
Last year, Margo had brought her baby doll and carried her for the entire session, which was perfectly fine with me. This year, she brought a different doll…Rapunzel to our session. For me, if a beloved toy helps a child to be more comfortable at a session, then I say let them bring it. My favorite part was when Margot broke into songs from Frozen. I’m also a big fan of Elsa. ❄️
If you haven’t booked your Fall family portrait session yet, please don’t wait. I have a couple of openings for November but they won’t last long. One fantastic spot just opened up because a client needed to reschedule for December. Book your session today!
Y’all, I’m editing my booty off, and I’m running out of words to put in my blog previews of my family photo sessions.
It’s the height of peak season. We were gone all weekend to my beautiful nieces birthday party in Ohio. But someone I still managed to shoot 5 sessions in the past week, with one more tomorrow, and another three on Sunday (please pray it doesn’t rain on me.)
I’m keeping up, but if you need to find me, I’m probably at my computer. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know it sounds cheesy, but I really love being a part of shooting these moments for families, especially when I get to see the same ones year after year.
For example, It makes me smile to think about how much little Jace has grown since I first started photographing his family three or so years ago. I love meeting and photographing new families too, but I especially look forward to seeing repeat clients each year. ❤️
If you are a procrastinator, I do have two November spots open…once just recently opened up because a family needed to move their session to December…it’s a magic hour session too! You can book your portrait session online from my scheduling calendar or contact me if you have questions!
Photographing young children is something that I do regularly. If I had to choose one genre or age group of photographs to take, it would be families with pre-school age children for sure. It’s where I am most comfortable. It’s the age group that I am most passionate about shooting (though I still love taking pictures of people of all ages).
I have to remind myself that my clients do not do this regularly. This might be the first time they’ve been to a photo session like mine, and at the very least, it’s the first time they’ve done family photos with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old (or whatever the case may be.)
Because of that, I try to reassure my clients throughout a session that this is normal. I swear. Listen, photo sessions with multiple pre-school age children is by nature, a little bit of organized chaos. One client I had once called it a beautiful mess, and I love that term. Your kids are doing great. Really, they are.
I think one thing that makes parents nervous is when I start asking small children to do things, and maybe (probably) they don’t do what I ask. Please believe me when I tell you that I have NEVER met a two-year-old who did everything I asked. Never. Expecting them to follow all my instructions is not age-appropriate or realistic. Also, it doesn’t bother me one bit if they aren’t interested in something I suggest.
There are three main reasons it doesn’t bother me:
I have LOTS of tricks up my sleeve. Some kids like racing, some like flying, or Ring around the Roses. Some want to talk. Quite a few like to talk about farts (though I let them initiate that in case mom and dad don’t approve). Others want to interact only with mommy and daddy. That’s all OK.
I take a LOT of photos. I will delete tons, particularly at a session with small children. But I’m always left with plenty of keepers.
The only thing I want from your kids is for them to be authentic. Two-year-olds don’t know any other way to be, so whatever happens, we are winning.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes an image doesn’t tell the whole story. Today I want to talk through what happens at pretty much every session with small children ever, using photos from a family portrait session. So you can read what was happening in real life, and see the resulting image. I’m hoping this will prevent any future anxiety when you think “my kids aren’t cooperating.” I promise you; they are doing exactly what I want them to do.
So as you can see, these two beautiful sweet girls did an amazing job. They did exactly what I wanted them to do….to be wild and free and full of wonder. Because that’s the way it should be. Here are a few more photos from their session.
When many moms come to me to book a family portrait session, their first concern is if their young children will “behave” for a portrait session. I want to make a deal with you….if you properly prepare your husband or significant other for the portrait session, then I promise I will handle the children. (Also, “behaving” is overrated. I want your babies to be wild and free and real.)
Things Dads Misunderstand About a Portrait Session:
Think about it for a minute: generally, 100% of my interactions before a portrait session have been with Mom. (This isn’t ALWAYS the case. I have had dads do the booking, but usually it’s mom.) It’s likely that mom was the one following me on social media, and mom was the one who picked me. Dad’s probably not read my blog. He’s also not the one reading all the emails from me preparing you for what to expect at the session.
Dad may have no idea about my candid style, or the fact that a photo session with me is meant to be playful and fun. Maybe, in his head, he’s expecting the studio type portrait session of his youth, where everyone had to stand at attention on a tiny black dot and stare unblinkingly at the camera.
Another misconception dads sometimes have is that we are trying to get “one good picture.” I try to get what I refer to as the “Grandma shot” early in the session. That’s the one where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. It’s the one to send to Grandma…the more traditional look. But my real goal is to get you a gallery FULL of beautiful, candid images of your family that showcase their personalities and their love for each other. That takes more than 5 minutes.
Things Dads do wrong because they aren’t informed:
It’s not their fault. They are trying to help. But because they don’t know what to expect, or what the desired outcome is, they aren’t being as helpful as they could be. Here are some things they do because they don’t know better:
Telling the kids to “hurry up and behave and we will get this over faster.” (First, this is gonna be fun. We don’t want to behave as if it’s a chore. Also, we want to get lots of fun and candid images. This is not over after the first good photo.)
Telling the kids to “stop goofing off.” (Sometimes, I’m encouraging them to be goofy because it helps them relax and be real. Don’t worry, not all the images I give you will include that silly monster face.)
Staring at my camera the entire session with a clenched teeth smile that clearly says “my wife made me do this.”
What I want from Dads to make the Photo Session a Success:
Relax. Be silly. Play games. Have tickle fights. Spin the kids around in circles. Wrestle. Tell dad jokes. Kiss your wife. Hold hands. Throw the baby in the air (safely). Misbehave.
How you can help prepare dad for the photo session:
The biggest thing you can do before a session to make it successful is just to let dad know what to expect. Make sure he knows it will take about an hour, that we want lots of fun candid images, and that we aren’t trying to get studio-like posed portraits. Before each session, I send out an email on how parents can help make a portrait session successful. Share that with dad so he knows what to expect too. You can even show him the type of photos that you love from my family portfolio so he understands that not every photo needs to be of everyone smiling and looking at the camera. If dad is informed and knows what to expect, then he can help make the session fun and memorable, which is exactly what we want.
A perfect example:
I chose this session to talk about how to prep dads for family photos, because I think Brian has always done exactly what i wanted him to do at sessions. I’ve been photographing these two amazing kids since Grayson was in the womb and I shot a maternity session for their family. These kids embody everything I love about photographing young children, and I often have written about how easy it is to photograph them.
But one thing that makes it so easy to photograph them, is that their parents behave exactly the way I want parents to behave at a session. They don’t stress and let the session unfold naturally. They play and interact with the kids, and encourage silliness.
My case in point: Grayson’s pants were a little big around the waist and were sagging down. Brian made a joke that Grayson needed to keep his “booty in his pants.” That somehow evolved into a little silly song that Grayson and Alys both thought was hilarious. It kept him giggling for half the session.
Yes!! That’s the way it should be. That’s what I need from all my dads out there…less telling the kids to “behave” and more “keep your booty in your pants.”