Summer Schedule Is Here! Top 5 Reasons For Summer Family Photos

The Top 5 Reasons for Summer Family Photos

While it is no secret that, hands down, Fall is the busiest time for family photographers, those sweet summer days are a strong second.  Not much has changed since I was a kid - I quite literally LIVE for summer.  Everything about summer fits my personality, warm weather, swimming, freedom of the rigors of the school year, family time, staying up too late, watermelon....I could go on forever....but I'll narrow it to five. Here we go: 

1. Sun Kissed Skin and Hair, Sundresses, Short Sleeves and Sandals

Raise your hand if you remember squeezing lemon juice in your hair as a teen (or maybe even Sun-IN?)  While we, as a generation, tend to exercise a bit more caution in the sun these days, there's no denying that most people, especially kids, are sporting a healthy glow in the summer.  I personally love having my photos taken in the sunny months to take advantage of how I feel with a little color on my cheeks.  What little girl doesn't love twirling in the summer breeze in her favorite summer dress while her little brother kicks off his sandals to dip his toes in the water?  

2. Schedule and Flexibility

Like I mentioned before, FALL  is the busiest time of year for me and it is also the most difficult to get on my books! (Not to mention all the praying to weather gods).   I have opened up the summer schedule this year in a new way.  Book the week or weekend you want to shoot and we'll find a day that works best of US!  I know summer is busy with travel, camps, visitors and ferry rides - but by booking a flexible date with me and we can work together to find the best time to have our shoot!  

3. Weather!!

Maybe this should have been #1!  While we have some pretty great and predictable weather through September and sometimes into October, our Summers here in the Pacific Northwest are truly magnificent.  The quality of light is so warm and I cherish the richness of summertime images. 

4. Creative Locations

The summer opens up so many possibilities for additional locations.  Whether it is riding a ferry boat or making a snow-free drive up to the mountains or wading in a creek, there are just some things that can only be done in the summer.  Let's get creative!  Where should we go for your shoot this year? 

5. Family Connection

While it is my goal to capture family connection all year round, there's something particularly special about summer.  It is a time of transition and anticipation.  It is a time of togetherness and throwing caution to the wind (hello late nights and long road trips).  I love to hear about the accomplishments of the past school year  and the excitement for what's to come after we say goodbye to summer when it leaves us long before we're ready.  (Hint - this is when I get some GREAT expressions from kids telling me all their life updates!) 

Sigh....I'm so excited for summer !  Who's with me??


"But Mama, Is it REAL?" : 3 Tips For REAL Family Photos

A few months ago I was came across the trailer for the new Planet Earth II and was delighted to show it to my kids.  We’ve worn the DVDs out of the original Planet Earth from 2006, before my first was born.   The new trailer was spectacular with camera angles that baffle the mind.  After watching it, my 5-year-old looked really confused.  He kept asking over and over “But Mama, is it REAL though?”  I kept telling him yes, it was.  He didn’t change the question, he just got louder and louder (as he often does) and I realized he was questioning whether or not the footage was altered or perhaps even CG.  

We live in a time when our kids have have abundant access to photoshopped images, crazy amazing computer graphics, and apps on our phones that smooth skin, enlarge eyes or even give humans dog ears.  Our kids have to decipher whether or not everything they see is REAL way more than we ever could have dreamed of as kids.  Honestly, I find that exhausting and can’t imagine growing up in such a confusing world.  So why not offer as much REAL content as we can provide them.  


Why am I talking about this with relation to getting ready for you photo shoot?  Because I want your family to look at the images from our shoot and SEE the reality of the moment - not just smiles for the camera and perfect outfits.   I am not a documentary photographer, your session is guided by me, but only YOU can create authentic interactions with your family and capturing those moments is my gift and why you hired me.  I believe a little mental prep goes a long way when getting ready for our session. 

So what can we do to prepare for a session that captures REAL moments, true smiles, laughter and love?  Take a few minutes and read over these 3 tips and you’ll be more than ready for our time together.  

1. TELL THEM WHY: Tell your children (and partner) before our time together what we’re doing, what the goal is: not only to have some nice family photos, but to capture memories for your family. Tell them WHY these photos are important to you. I’m going to reveal the true cheese ball that I am here but in the last couple of years I’ve had two amazing sessions that both went beyond great.  I told my kids that the photographer wasn’t actually taking pictures of our bodies - she was trying to take pictures of our LOVE.  So I wanted them to show her how we show love to each other.  SO CHEESY right?  Well, it worked like a charm.  We went through all the ways we show love, hugging, kissing, laughing, being a good listener, holding hands, high fives and so on.  Having all your energy focus on love and not compliance can be a game changer.  It changes the position of what we’re doing from a chore (usually for Mom) to a family activity.  I know this is such an idealistic way to think of this - there are things like temperament, age and stress that come into play - but think of this as a calming baseline.  If your kids are too young to have this conversation (I'd try it with kids 1 and over), have this conversation with yourself and partner before the session.  

2. LET THEM BE KIDS! I know there is a fine line between letting the kids run the shoot and letting them be free to explore and have authentic moments.   So let’s work together on this.  Tell them there will be moments that I will ask them to participate, play games, snuggle their parents and siblings, but there will also be moments when we can play and explore.  Try not to direct them too much, leave that to me. The hardest thing for kids can be having too many grown ups shouting out directions. 

3. BE YOU!  Who are you and your family? What do you enjoy doing together when you’re not in front of the camera?  Do you adventure? GREAT - let’s do that. Photoshoots don’t have to be at beaches or parks, we could ride a ferry, go to the zoo, go on a hike, be tourist downtown, chop down a Christmas Tree, hunt for Pumpkins at a patch, the list goes on and on.  Do you have dance parties? GREAT!! Let’s bring some music and dance it out during your session!  Are you homebodies? GREAT! Let’s do an in home session, I adore these, I can capture great family shots, but also photos of your family in your REAL everyday environment, playing games, jumping on beds, making food together.  Even better, combine all of the above!  Again - we’re trying to keep it REAL right? 

I want our time together to be awesome, I want your images to make you smile, allow you remember and be true artifacts of your family history.  I want your great great grandchildren to see these photos and have a sense of who you were and what it was like to be a part of your family.  I’m ready to capture your love, thank you for taking the time to prepare it.  

Footnotes and Confessions: 

All Footnote images by the amazing  Elena S. Blair  - photo above is me cleaning up my daughters's mid-session nose bleed.  This was also just moments before my son barfed all over the ally. I've seen and experienced A LOT! From one parent to another, we got this.  

All Footnote images by the amazing Elena S. Blair - photo above is me cleaning up my daughters's mid-session nose bleed.  This was also just moments before my son barfed all over the ally. I've seen and experienced A LOT! From one parent to another, we got this.  

I KNOW so much of this blog post is, again, idealistic.  I know that.  My stress level before my first photo shoot was off the charts.  I worried about my kids being crazy and non compliant. I worried about my husband being (and looking) bored.  I worried about coming across as frazzled and angry in my photos.  But once I really thought about the families I photograph and the sessions that have been pure magic, I realized it all came down to state of mind.  I used that to talk myself off the ledge and really focus on what I wanted my results to be.  I applied the three above tips as well as these funky little tips that helped me. 1. Try the Headspace app.  I’ll keep this unpaid endorsement short and say it’s awesome - 10 minutes of quiet a day does a body (and mind) good. 2. If your kids are driving you crazy or you’re having a hard parenting day, take 2 minutes before you go to bed to sneak in and watch them sleep.  This was a tip from my co-op parent educator I use often. Seeing their peaceful little faces is a great reminder of all that is magical about childhood and parenthood.  3.  Check their (and your) sleep.  I’m so bad at this - I stay up too late and it really can do a number on stress and anxiety for your shoot.  Make sure the week leading up to our shoot that your family practices your best possible sleeping habits. 

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Let's make this a two way conversation! Did you connect or relate with something about this post - let me know! Share your experiences - how will you prepare for your photoshoot with me each year?  Leave a comment below! 

Luca and I had so much fun with creating some un-real images, it was too easy - and I'll admit, pretty fun.  

Luca and I had so much fun with creating some un-real images, it was too easy - and I'll admit, pretty fun.  

Happy 10 Year Anniversary!

Last year I hit the beach for golden hour with this family to celebrate the couple's 10 year wedding anniversary.  We took photos in the exact spots they had their engagement photos taken the decade before.  This time,  with their two beautiful children.  I love the idea of photos for anniversaries and other family milestones.  And, of course, any session that ends with the kids, on the beach, in the water in their fancy clothes is ALWAYS a winner!  Cheers you two lovebirds!

Coming Soon: City Baby

Have you ever had that friend? The one who tells you she and her husband are expecting a baby and your eyes just start pouring tears of happiness? Well, this is that one.  These two did the world's fastest and most fun, urban maternity shoot (really, this was about 10 minutes of our day).  I can't wait to meet this little bundle! He or she (I'm putting my money on SHE), will be the luckiest city kid in town to have these fun, silly, smart, goofy people as parents.


The Family Home

This summer we had the privilege of being invited out to he childhood home of our good friend and neighbor.  We had planned on doing a summer photo family session so we just waited until this weekend so we could have the backdrop of this gorgeous place.  EVERYTHING on this property was built, by hand, by my friend's parents - including the log cabin home she grew up in.  Every inch was taken care of with some much love, hard work, heart and spirit from the guest house affectionally called "The Bunkie" to the deck around the pool that was literally being constructed as our kids swam the day away.  What a treasure this place is for this family to come together remember their past, reflect on what they built together over time and create new memories with the next generation. 20140719-IMG_3600


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