Playing in the sunshine in Brenham (plus some family photo how-to tips!)
This was our third year to drive up to Brenham for a fun day of playing in the bluebonnets. We’ve photographed in generally the same area every time, but this year was a little different. The gorgeous open field of endless bluebonnets we used last year is now closed to the public, which made me so sad!
We drove around a bit and found a lovely area down a dirt road. The old trees were beautiful, even if there weren’t as many bluebonnets as we’ve seen before. The girls had fun running and giggling with each other and our golden retriever, Graham.
The weather was nice and cool with a bit of a breeze. I was determined to finally get a few good photos of me with my daughters – I am ALWAYS behind the camera, so there aren’t many photos of me with them!
Although I’m sure my husband would prefer using my camera in Auto mode, I taught him just a few tricks for pretty photos in Manual mode. He did such a great job snapping these images of me with the girls. Sadly, he has no interest in becoming a husband-wife photography team with me! I blame it on his computer science brain.
Family photo tips
If you’re planning to get some bluebonnet photos of your own this spring, I’ve put together a few tips to make it as stress-free as possible! It’s not always easy to get kids to cooperate for family photos, but hopefully I’ve got a few tips and tricks that will help.
What to wear
I am a huge fan of solids or very tiny prints for photo sessions. My maternity and newborn clients hear this from me so much I’m sure I sound like a broken record! Solid colors are timeless and polished; they don’t distract from the people in the photo.
For our little family session, my girls are in ivory lace dresses from a family wedding where they were flower girls. I wore a white lace top and light pink chiffon skirt. My husband was in a light pink shirt and jeans. The texture of the lace adds visual interest to the photos, so don’t assume that wearing solids has to be boring!
If you want to include prints, a good rule of thumb is to have one person in a patterned item for every three people. So, if your son is in a plaid shirt, you and your husband should consider complimentary solid colors.
Shoes are important, too! My girls wore glittery ballet flats and I wore rose-gold sandals. It would have ruined the photos for the girls to be in tennis shoes or beat up sandals that didn’t match.
How to guarantee genuine smiles
If you’ve got young kids (under kindergarten or so), it can be a real challenge to get them to sit and smile for photos! That’s why we hardly bother trying.
Instead, it works so much better to engage the kids in an activity they like. The girls and I played ring around the rosie for a few photos, which was great because they didn’t even notice the camera! We also took a walk through the field holding hands with me asking them silly questions. For the shots of them with my husband, I got real smiles by asking who had stinky feet!
In photos of just them, I asked the girls to hug each other and smell the flowers… and also show me how fast they could run!
Make sure the sun is behind your family
This is how you avoid squinty-eyed photos. Position your family so that the sun is behind them, or blocked by a tree, building, etc. It’s even more flattering to photograph about an hour before the sun sets, when the light makes everyone look glowy and beautiful!
Let go of perfection
Basically, if you’re taking family photos on your own, the biggest tip I can give you is to let go of your need for perfection.
I know that may sound discouraging, but let’s be honest. Once you’ve planned outfits, gotten everyone ready, loaded kids in the car and found the perfect spot for photos, you’re already tired! And maybe a little bit anxious about snapping those magazine-worthy moments.
That’s just how we are as moms. I’m never stressed like that for client photo sessions, but our own can be a different story!
You have to remind yourself that kids don’t sit perfectly and smile for photos for long, if they’ll do it at all. Candid moments can be just as joyful as the posed ones, so snap away as they run and play.
Using your phone vs. your camera
I’m a photographer, so naturally I think you should use a nice camera for family photos! I know our iPhones take great photos too, but you’re a little more limited with your camera phone than you are with an actual camera.
If you’d rather just use your phone, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Most mamas love iPhone portrait mode. It gives you that beautiful blurry background and generally makes everyone look great. The drawback to the iPhone portrait mode is the lens isn’t all that fast. If you’re trying to photograph your kids running and playing in portrait mode, chances are good you’ll get some blur.
If you want to avoid blur in your photos, make sure your iPhone is in regular photo mode and save portrait for when your kids are relatively still.
Get in the photo, mama!
Most importantly, get in the photos, mama! I used to make so many excuses for not being in photos with my girls: I hadn’t lost the baby weight, hadn’t had my hair done in forever, didn’t have makeup on, etc.
None of these things really matter! When I look back at newborn photos of my girls, I’m in so few of them. I can’t go back in time and fix that, but I can make sure I’m in pictures with them now.
Your kids want to make memories with you and they don’t care about baby weight or what your hair looks like. Enjoy them while they’re little and ensure they’ve got these memories with mama to look back on!