I am a wedding and portrait photographer who keeps things light, fun, and full of energy. I’m based out of Springfield, Illinois however I love traveling all over the midwest and beyond.
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The kids are running around like banshees. Your trying to put your makeup on or fix your hair. Picking the perfect outfits for everyone in the family seems like an impossible feat. Maybe you were planning to bring your sweet faced dog, who currently is digging in the mud instead of waiting patiently for his close up. You hustle each family member into the car and meet at our talked about location. You are stressed when you arrive and not sure how you managed not to forget anyone! Believe me…I get it. That was my circus life just THIS MORNING!
However, once you arrive for our session you can take a breath. I’m here to take care of you! My family sessions are geared towards having fun and capturing posed and unposed moments of you all together. So at no time during your session should you feel stressed out. I make sure to give kids plenty of time to warm up to me. Especially if it’s their first time meeting me. At the beginning of the session, I may just be taking some candid photos so little ones get a feel for what this crazy contraption is I keep sticking in their faces is. I will probably set up a pose for the whole family just to get the initial shot out of the way. If your kids are older and maybe not exactly happy to be there when they could be doing something WAY cooler, I take the time to goof around with them a bit. Many tweens/teenagers will do anything not to let people know they are enjoying something ESPECIALLY if mom or dad are around. So if I can break the ice a little bit with them and show them I’m not too lame (at least I don’t think I am) then I usually can get some memorable shots. I may even get the kids away from mom and dad for a minute where they don’t get the sense that they are being watched. That also can be half the battle. Mom and Dad, make sure to check your bashfulness at the door when we get started. The time may come when I ask you to stand behind me and act like a fool! Usually I make myself look silly first to get some giggles. But, I have found many times when I’m doing photos of only the children mom or dad jumping around and making animal noises behind me can be the key to unlocking the most amazing smiles. You could even bring their favorite toy or stuffed animal a prop for giggles. And don’t worry, I do not judge. Most of the time I don’t even see what you are doing! Tickles and funny faces are also a big part of my sessions. Make sure to remember and bring your tickle fingers and your best amusing face. Cause I will ask for them! High valued snacks, aka “bribery snacks”, are encouraged to reward the little ones for cooperating. While your at it, if the pup is coming throw some small treats in for him too! They need encouragement as well sometimes.
If you know your child tends to get overly nervous or anxious about photos, please let me know beforehand. I can then prepare the way I will approach your child to not add to their anxious feeling. One of my clients, the Utterback family started with me in 2014. Mom, Trisha, told me right off the bat that her son, two year old Gavin, was very shy and they have always had a hard time getting him to smile for photos. She said as long he was simply looking at the camera she would be happy. Well, that wasn’t going to work for me if I could help it. Gavin was definitely very unsure about me at the start of our session. I didn’t want to scare him and ruin the entire session. So I basically ignored him. I gave direction to the rest of the family and started with their group shots as normal. I never asked him to smile or look at me. Then as he warmed up a bit, I showed him how his big sister sat to get her photos take all by herself. He seemed interested so I asked Dad, Josh, to place him on the blanket then stand behind to get his attention. Josh has a natural talent for jumping all over the place to get his kiddos to laugh. This tactic worked like a charm! Gavin instantly relaxed and I was able to get some awesome shots of his wonderful smile. If I had tried to approach or even talk directly to Gavin in that first session, I’m sure it would have been a disaster that could have ended in tears. Trisha told me before they even left the session or had seen any photos that this was the best session they had ever had with Gavin. Over the years, each session with Gavin has become exponentially better than the last. At his FOUR year old session, he literally walked right up to me and was ready to go. He smiled ear to ear in all of his photos and was a completely different guy. I even got a high five at the end! For me, it was an amazing feeling to witness his transformation in front of my camera. Here are a few shots from our first session.
The very first shot….he looks terrified.
Then here are a few shots after he warmed up.
Then Gavin at his Four Year Session: The difference is CRAZY!
Parents, I want you to be able to release the stress over to me and let me take it off your shoulders. You deserve to share this time with your family and be present for these moments. If you are worried about how your kids are going to act during our hour or so together then you are going to miss their little smirks and laughs. And most likely end up without your own best smile. It’s never good when your kids have awesome smiles and you look like someone is pinching you. Let’s have fun and capture your family’s memories all while you are enjoying your experience.