If you know me in real life, you know I love the simple stuff. A sunny afternoon, being barefoot in the grass, a walk with a happy dog, a hot cup of coffee. It doesn’t take much for the richness of life to fill me up. It’s one of the reasons I love shooting family sessions with a more photojournalistic approach — the simple rhythms of a family doing their thing together and loving on each other are enough to make a backyard photo session feel really magical.
I’ve photographed the Hood family for a handful of years in a row now – indoors, at the beach, in their backyard, and that one time we romped around in a gorgeous old field for a fall mini! I love coming back to their backyard most of all. This year, they added a really cool playhouse swing set, giving us all the more places to play and capture some photos of the kids just being kids.
For backyard photo sessions like this, I tell families to dress as comfortably as they want (think the casual of casuals) so they’ll be comfortable running and playing and snuggling together. Barefeet are always welcome, as is the family pup. I have a real soft spot for the Hood’s dog Bailey (I’ve blogged about her before, I know) – she’s the ultimate nanny dog for these kiddos!
I don’t really have an agenda for sessions like this. Long before I arrive to shoot, I’ve asked questions about what matters in a family’s home life, and what matters in this season of parenting, and what photos would be really meaningful to have from our session. I want my clients to just enjoy being together, and leave the thinking part to me! The best part about such a hands-off approach is that kids are going to be themselves pretty quickly if you let them. It means once everyone is comfortable with me hanging around, I get a front-row seat to who they are and what they like. Letting kiddos guide the way for a photo session lets parents take a deep breath and just flow along with their kids. Sure, there’s always that one photo we want to make sure we get (and that photo is different for everyone!), but it’s my job to find the right moment to ask for it (or to just watch for it to appear naturally!)
Letting parents feel like they are off the hook when it comes to forcing the kids to perform for photos means I’m able to capture the kiddos just as they are. Sometimes we’ll get a teary eye or two during a family session (kids are kids and feelings are feelings) but we roll with it!
With the Hoods, our hour together was totally, magically chill. There were bubbles and golden hour sunbeams and doggo snuggles and swings and rock walls and superwoman spins and a whole lot of happy, tired humans at the end — myself included!