Please pardon the months of radio silence. It turns out selling a house and moving with young kids is not so fun. Perhaps "nightmarish" is a better word? But the great news is that after furiously cleaning the house and clearing out for one open house and 20 showings, we have officially sold our house. Now we have entered a period of homelessness, which is...exciting...(other words come to mind here too). If all goes according to plan, though nothing has this summer, we'll be moving in two and a half weeks into our new place. I can't wait to show it to you!
In the meantime, I have a lot of catching up to do on the blog. Yet to come is my nephew's newborn session, a mountain wedding invitation and several trip posts. Maybe I'll even throw in a final tour of our home of seven years.
First I'd like to share Nora's 3-year-old shell-collecting beach session from May and talk a little about lifestyle photography. Trying to convince my girls to look at the camera and smile for traditional portraits has worked during some phases and failed miserably during others. (Nora is finally getting out of the fake smile phase. Thank goodness!) But that's just fine, because what I love most is lifestyle, or documentary-style, photography that captures context and activity.
Here are a few tips for pulling off stress-free lifestyle sessions with your kids:
1) Don't announce a formal session. Plan ahead which time of day will work best given your kids' temperaments and energy, as well as the location and light. Then tell them what activity you're going to do, but don't mention the goal is actually to sneak in a portrait session.
2) Plan an outfit that is appropriate for the activity and compliments the landscape. In some cases, you may want a neutral outfit so the kids blend into the landscape, such as muted colors in a woodland scene. In others, you may want bright colors that will pop, such as yellow rain boots on a dreary day.
3) Set them free, then stay back and observe through the lens. Don't give much direction. Let them get comfortable and lost in their activity. Then if you see an opportunity for tweaking the shot, move around them discretely or direct them casually to move without saying it's for the sake of the photo. Once you've gotten some nice shots of them playing, casually say, "Look up and smile at me!" but don't push it. If they resist, back off and try again later so you don't interrupt. Wouldn't you rather remember the context of their fun than have 30 shots of them forcing a smile?
4) If you're assembling an album, social media post or wall prints, select a variety of types of shots. For example, combine a pulled back photo that shows context with a more traditional portrait image and a detail.
We spent a weekend right after Nora's birthday at the beach, so once again I used it as the backdrop for her annual portraits. I casually set out the dress I hoped she'd agree to wear that morning—a birthday gift—and asked if she'd like to collect some shells with me. We left the rest of the family at the house to avoid distraction and took an early morning stroll on the beach together. I let her do her thing and just asked her once or twice to look up and smile, then let her get back to work. I love how these photos capture her energy, focus and love of the beach (and her beach curls, too).
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.