Back to the Beach - A Family Location Session

08th October 2017

Family photo sessions are popular. Everyone loves images of them and their family, particularly when children are involved. My family shoots are a mixture of family group, child imagery and also couple shots too. Parents are often reluctant to be the focus of too many photographs during the session, but I like to include some shots of the parents together as well. I’ll talk about this later in the post.

Firstly, let’s talk about the younger photo subjects…

Despite (in parents’ minds) the session being mostly about the children, many Mums and Dads have reservations about their photo session. One of the biggest concerns I hear from them will be the behaviour of their children. By that, I don’t mean that they’re naughty or rude, but whether they will play ball and join in with the session. It’s a fair and valid worry, but I tell them not to fret….

Yes, children, particularly pre-school, can be challenging to parents day-to-day. I know, I have three boys of my own and understand exactly how fickle they can be at times. But you know what? It doesn’t matter to me, and certainly not during my photo sessions.
They are being children; it’s what they do! I have three golden rules that I stick to when photographing pre-school little ones:

No. 1 - Be patient
Younger children aren’t particularly interested in a man with a camera and don’t usually take direction very well, so I’ll talk, chat and - with the help of Mum and Dad - cajole them into various situations throughout the session to get those shots.

No.2 - Be fun
Encouraging play and keeping the session moving stops boredom from setting in. It’s just another adventure to them, meaning I can snap away

No.3 - Let them take control
Formal posing is never an option with young children - not that there’s anything formal about my work. So let them be themselves. I let them lead, I’m happy to follow, that way I capture their personality, and in a natural way too.

Why am I telling you this?

This recent family session included Mum, Dad and their three year old son, so it was very much a let’s see what happens kind of shoot. We started very gently, letting the little man settle into proceedings. The first few shots were very natural and candid, with no direction from me. In fact the whole session was very hands off, with the occasional suggestion for the family group images, and a bit more for the shots of Mum and Dad.

Which brings me onto the couples elements of the photo session. As I mentioned earlier, I always ask the parents if they would like a few moments on their own to have some photos taken of just the two of them. It’s not mandatory of course. Not all couples will take up the offer, but most do. Sometimes it’s just one or two images, sometimes a few more. I think the mindset for parents is that the photo session should mainly be pictures of the children, with some group photos including them in too. I know this, because my most popular shot from a family session is the one where I focus on the child or children and have Mum and Dad blurred out in the background. Just like the image above.

Hence the reluctance, but Mum and Dad are a pretty vital part of the family and often will give up a lot of themselves in the upbringing of their young ones, so giving them a spot of their own to remind them that they are still a couple, and have each other, is important.

Again, I am just as gentle with the adults, keeping things nice and relaxed, and simple. It’s not unusual for adults, to feel intimidated if they feel they have to pose or perform. I want them to be with each other, and enjoy the moment. After all, the photo session should be fun and memorable for all the right reasons.

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