A couple of weeks ago we did a small family photoshoot in a local town. And I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
What prompted this impromptu shoot was my father-in-law’s upcoming birthday. We always have the hardest time finding the right gifts for family. I feel like that’s a thing the older you get. Kids are so easy to shop for!
In reality, it’s been a minute since we’ve done a family shoot. So the idea was to use some of those shots for a collage as a surprise gift for my father-in-law.
Long story short, when we got to our spot, it was a gorgeous weekday morning. Minnesota weather can be rather unpredictable, and with no backup plan, my only plan was to wing it. Winging it with two kiddos can be either really interesting or really really interesting. You feel me, right? 🙂
Excelsior you have my heart
Excelsior is this tiny little town on the shores of the infamous Lake Minnetonka that truly has everything packed in one itty bitty perfect package. They have the yachts, the large passenger boat, an ice cream trolley serving Sebastian Joe’s, a large park complete with baseball fields, a beach, and a playground. And the town…the town itself feels like a tiny piece of Cape Cod right here in our backyard.
It’s always been one of our favorite secret little spots in the West burbs, so it seemed almost perfect to take the family photo sesh there.
Planning the Family Photo Session
The weeks leading up to this date were so busy that we’ve honestly not had the time to think or plan anything. My favorite moments are those that come naturally anyways. I just wanted to have those candid moments captured with all of us (*cough* me *cough*) in them.
Natasha was a natural choice, too. I met her randomly at a recent blogger event and instantly fell in love with her style. Photographing kids and toddlers can be so tricky! But she is so easy and fun to work with. She instantly put everyone at ease. I encourage you to scroll through her Insta feed. So much inspiration!
We kept our color scheme super simple. I didn’t want everyone to be washed out in white, but I did want us to stand out against the natural backgrounds of Excelsior. The light corals, some whites, and washed out earthy greens seemed to compliment each other and the surroundings well. Ultimately, I wanted everyone to feel free to move and be themselves.
The day leading up to our photoshoot, we told the kids we were taking them on a special trip complete with sweet things, a playground, and games. I’m one that feels bribery can be a necessary evil, so I had a few other things up my sleeve. Just in case.
How to Photograph Children Outdoors – Our Tips & Tricks for Taking Great Kids Photos
I’m often asked how I take such good candid shots of my kids. Taking photos of children (aka energizer bunnies) is hard! While I am not a professional photographer by any means, over the years I have learned some hard and fast rules to help me get those beautiful pictures.
1. Timing is everything with young children – Avoid meltdowns to get a great family picture
We always try to keep these sessions either earlier in the morning after the kids are well-rested and have had a good breakfast or later at night when the sun starts to set; the golden hour. Ours still nap so it helps to have that resting period to give them a little energy boost.
2. Light can be your friend or foe – The golden hour is a thing.
The other upside of this timing, of course, is the gorgeous natural light. Mid-day light can be very harsh and will typically highlight every imperfection. Bright cloudy days are often best because you don’t have to worry about any shadows either. Although, funky weather can give you some great images as well.
3. Busy kids are easy to photograph – Keep them occupied and interested for great images.
During the session, I usually try to keep the kids busy by getting their attention. Whether it’s a cool car, or a boat, or a funny mural on a wall. It really doesn’t matter, honestly. So this time we saw this amazing cool red car and the kids couldn’t keep their eyes off it. Instant photo prop 😉 !
4. Games and children go together – Use games to get your children at ease with the photoshoot.
Before our session, we also told the boys we will be playing games. So we brought a soccer ball with since they are both into it now. We also searched for crickets, raced each other, and counted the boats on the lake. Last but not least, we kept a playground on the agenda. A standby favorite. This way we’d get some shots of them just playing without worrying about anything else.
5. Keep clicking – It’s a game-changer.
Probably the biggest tip I can share (learned this one the hard way) is to set your camera on continuous. Kids move fast. Keep that shutter speed fast. Yes, you will get tons of unusable, though sometimes amusing, shots. But this is the only way to capture a perfect shot with a constantly moving toddler or an energetic child. We use this trick with our big camera and our iPhone cameras.
6. Toddlers get distracted – Act like a child and they will reciprocate.
Be interactive. If you pay attention to the camera, your children will, too. However, once you forget it exists and do your best to be interactive with your children, they will typically just follow suit. Get on their eye level. I love kissing my kids. We have this thing about penguin kisses with the nose, which melt my heart every time, too.
7. Tickles and belly laughs go together – Have them tickle you, too!
And I know when nothing else is working, tickles will usually get these littles to give us some natural smiles and hopefully forget about the camera. Even if it’s for a moment. Natasha even had them come tickle us this time. Honestly, the only goal is to get them to forget a camera exists and have fun.
8. Location, location, location – Important to consider when you photograph children outdoors.
So a fun location doesn’t hurt. When brainstorming some great kids photoshoot ideas, don’t ignore the location. Woods and fields usually have lots of stuff for wondering minds to watch and discover. Busy locations can be a bit too hectic. Places that offer a bit of variety and options are best.
9. Bribery is a necessary evil – Let them eat donuts and ice cream (Bonus – great prop!)
Anyways, back to our day. Somewhere half-way through the photo session, my oldest started getting a little tired. Of course, the smiley easy-going kid was turning into a tiny little tyrant. That’s when I pulled out all the stops and used some good old-fashioned bribery 😀 ha-ha!
Lucky for us, we were able to find a large remote-controlled boat at a local Home Goods for only $15. Between that and the $3 cupcakes at Kowalski’s in Excelsior, I figure it was a pretty decent deal!
Speaking of Kowalski’s, these kids are addicted to their bakery. I don’t think there’s ever been a time we’ve left that store without a pastry item or two. Hope you all are doing amazing and had a great weekend! Don’t forget to follow us on social media!
P.S. Do you have other family photography and children photoshoot ideas that worked for you? Please share!