As photographers, we often are asked to define our “style.” Many words are thrown around out there like “natural-light, lifestlye, and even Photojournalistic” The last one there is a tricky label, as a true photojournalist photographs what is happening, and nothing more – think national geographic photographers, they’re not intervening at all with the subjects. Our photography style definitely strives to acheive a photojournalistic aesthetic– however, we do have to intervene. We make ourselves known, poke, prod, and dare I say the word “POSE!” Sorry, normal people (not trained models) need help to look good in photos- even if you’re the most photogenic person on earth. Kids are not normal people. They are amazing. We should look up to them rather than the other way around. They see wonder and beauty in the world, they want to explore and run and play. They thrive on the unknown, as we adults stress about it… and they look good doing it all. Our ultimate goal in family sessions is to pull out that inner child- because you’ll look good with that smile on your face, we promise.

Going into family sessions, we do our best with our clients to set realistic expectations. If you’re looking for a perfectly posed, cropped, lit, and retouched photo of your family in matching denim and black turtle necks, Here’s the phone number for JC Penny portraits: 208.515.3098

If you’re looking for a great time, a bunch of big surprises when you get your photos back, and then in 5, 10, 20, 50 years to look at them again and say “WOW, this is so US!” or “Remember how Bobby used to always make that face!?” *Side note– I love how I feel that I have to use stereotypical children’s names like ‘Bobby!’*

So here it is, we love shooting families, but we only know one way to do it. You may get 10 shots of smiling faces looking into the lens, and you may get 1 (we’ll make sure you get 1!) but that’s not what we’re looking for.

1.) Little ones are unpredictable – and that’s okay!

Allow your little ones to run the show and the results will be rewarding. The photographer may get the perfect shot when you allow their TODDLER AMAZINGNESS to shine. Some of the best photographs are made when the kiddos are running around and being goofs. When we observe them in their natural habitat, the images bleed with personality, and show genuine character. Yes of course we have a bag of tricks and our “go-to poses,” but children are the most intuitive, creative, and innovative beings out there- and they usually come up with the best content. A great example of this was little Liesl (below) — During our session, she was all over the place. She’s 2, what should we expect?! Aside from her name, she isn’t a VonTrap child- and we’re guessing yours aren’t either. She started the cutest game of hide and seek, and the result of her “naughtiness” was some of my favorite shots. Wanna know how to ruin this moment? Scold her for not posing perfectly… then we’ll have a  grumpy parent, a crying child, and a session cut short. Sweet little baby toes peeking out from beneath the curtains that she was entangled in?! AHHH!! GIVE ME MORE!

2. Tell a Story. A true one will do.

Your family is yours, and yours alone. You will enjoy looking back at these photographs as your children grow so much more if they show your beautiful personalities instead of just smiling little robots fixated on the camera. These are the moments we’re looking for. The warmth and familiarity of your family in the moments in between are the ones that will last a lifetime. Don’t worry, we’ll do our best to get that big cheese smile (we have different words that work better!) for the Christmas card. However, the magic happens when you pull those little ones close- when you smile or smirk at your partner with that “look” that only you know, and even when the baby startles everyone with her loud flatulence. Interacting in the way you naturally do is our favorite- sure it’s ‘enhanced’ as much as it has to be (unless you want us to plant hidden cameras in your house) but we are story tellers, and you are the inspiration. And this story is based on true events.

Consider taking the photos in your own home for the truest of stories- or go out for an activity that you love to do together. Having an environment to be yourselves in will pull the realest of life moments out of your session.

3.)  Take a chill pill

As we’ve been discussing here, sometimes the “perfect shot” isn’t what you think it is. It’s easy for you and your children to get upset when you’re too focused on getting the kids to “behave” and sit still. Picture perfect moments come when you least expect it and usually cant be posed or planned. So hey, no worries man!

You have permission to stop being in charge for 60-90 minutes. Tell the kids that the photographer is the captain during the shoot, and you get to just be one of the kids. Have fun yourself at the shoot, and don’t stress about what anyone else is doing. Just remember, we’re ALWAYS watching for the right moment to present itself. Often times this is while we’re walking in between locations, or when you don’t even realize that we’re shooting. So if you’re just always worried about little Suzie’s socks being pulled up just right, or that the blanket isn’t wrinkled– then your face will most likely look like a Kardashian caught off-guard by the paparazzi as  she walks out of hot yoga. It’s not pretty.

Just be happy, don’t worry. Wait, the other way around… whatever, we’ll be all good.  😉

DAD TIP: Literally take a “chill pill” Sometimes, grown men are worse than toddlers and they act like getting family photos done is worse than carrying your purse and shopping bags around the outlet mall. Seriously- loosen him up with his beverage of choice before the shoot, and offer him another afterwards if he’s a good boy. **If this is a dad reading this article, it does NOT apply to you. 

A few more things to think about

  • PROPS: Familiar toys (yes, even if they aren’t the cutest- no kid’s favorite toy is a brand new vintage wooden, Instagram worthy toy. Bring the nubby blanket, Mr. Snuggles, the current favorite matchbox car, or whatever it might be. We can use it to get their attention, and to give them comfort in between their close-ups and while we’re working with siblings or parents alone.
  • Good old fashioned bribery and manipulation. You bribe them, and they manipulate you, right? Plans for ice cream if they listen during the shoot really does usually work pretty well.
  • Make sure the kiddos (and adult men!) are comfortable in the clothes they are wearing. If they don’t feel great in the ridiculous outfit you bought for this one-time occasion, they won’t look good in it either. And you’ll be pulling pulling down the vest, adjusting the bow, and strapping the shoes every 5 minutes. We do recommend buying new clothes for your session, but make it something they’ll wear again and again.
  • Dirt happens! its okay if it gets on their clothes no need for a parental meltdown.

We would love to spend some time with your family, and tell your true story, and we do have some availability each month for family sessions. Hit us up!


We dare you not to say cheese! Our recipe for authentic-low-carb-cheese-free family photos




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