It’s so easy to dismiss shooting family studio sessions when you’re a documentary-style photographer. Think about it – we all have memories (ok, maybe I’m dating myself here?) of being dragged to the Sears Photo Studio (or some other version), and having to sit stock still in weird poses and itchy sweaters. But it doesn’t have to be like that, I swear!
I will always love shooting sessions at a family’s home, but in these Covid times (and beyond!), shooting in a studio is a wonderful way to capture that same feeling in a safe and fun environment. I’ve been shooting candid family studio sessions for a couple of years now, and I love it. In a candid studio setup, you can use comfy furniture and cozy-styled spaces to give a family room to stretch and play and explore. They get to be together in a new space, which often draws the kids a bit closer to their parents (which makes for lovely photos too!)
One of my favorite family studio sessions from last year was with The Olsons! Baby Elle and her parents, Morgan and Jon, met me at The Bananaland (one of my most favorite studios to shoot!) on a chilly grey day in February. And wouldn’t you know, that sweet little girl brought all the sunshine! It was so much fun to watch her explore the studio – from books to read, to windows to look out of, to just playing with her parents. I always tell parents to bring a few of their kiddo’s favorite toys with them too – and Elle came with one of her favorite fox toys to snuggle with.
Making the time and space for kids to snuggle during a session (whenever that happens) makes for really lovely, honest photos. Those are the images that tug the most at my momma heart, for sure. Sometimes this is a diaper change or a quick feeding, and sometimes it’s an intimate moment (let’s be honest, as parents we’re always wanting to pull the kids closer) that just unfolds all it’s own during the course of the session. And kids don’t have to be smiling to make it wonderful either – even the mid-session meltdown gives me a chance to document what it looks like when you comfort your little one, which is so special as they get bigger!
We even snuck in a few adorable little portraits to celebrate her upcoming first birthday! I don’t often do more structured portraits, but they can be SO fun (without being super stressful.) Candid studio sessions don’t have to be stressful at all, and I work with clients to prep in much the same way that we do when I’m shooting in their homes. Finding out what photos and moments might matter the most help me to pay close attention for when that moment is unfolding right in front of me.
I’m so lucky to have two different studio spaces to shoot in right now – the studio shown in these images (The Bananaland) is huge, with lots of room to run and play and explore, and my own studio in Black Rock is a more intimate space with gorgeous natural light and lovely old brick. Regardless of where I’m shooting these candid family studio sessions, creating the space for families to be themselves together is such a fun part of this work!