In the age of Instagram and social media, I think there's a lot of pressure on families and women as to how they should show up to their family photos. Imposter syndrome is real when you compare yourself to what other moms and families are wearing. What you see on Instagram can be highly coordinated, stylized, and posed. It can be beautiful to show up in a dramatic gown with the wind blowing and try to recreate a true cinematic movie moment, and it's also really important to be completely you and be true to who you really are. Don't get me wrong, I love a good dramatic photo moment just like every other Seattle photographer, and I also truly love to see what your real sense of fashion is like.

Mom wearing gray sweater holding black scarf over daughter Discovery Park

I always advise my clients to go with a color theme for their family photos. I personally love neutral colors because they are more pleasing to the eye, but I'll share a really easy trick that I learned after attending four years of graphic design school. If you're having trouble deciding what colors to wear and more importantly, which ones not to wear, try this: lay out your clothing on a bed or floor, then squint and while you're squinting, do any colors jump out more than the others? If they do, then that's probably the color you want to tone down first. For example, if this particular Mother had worn a red dress or any other jewel-toned dress, she would have quickly jumped out as the main focal point. Your eye will naturally be drawn to the most intense color and so will my camera.

Photographer's tip: A fun and playful way to grab photos with your littles is this easy posing trick. I asked this Mother to bring along a coordinating scarf, stand sideways against this nature backdrop, and then whip the blanket around her daughter dramatically and then use that same scarf to gently pull her daughter in closer. It's such a sweet way to sneak a photo with toddlers and kids just think they're playing a fun game!

Video of mom throwing blanket scarf over daughter Discovery Park

Sometimes the family poses and prompts I do with my clients don't work the first time around. So, if it fails the first time, but they were so close to nailing it, I simply ask them if they're ok with trying again. So far, I have not had anyone say no. After all, who doesn't want an epic Motherhood portrait with their son or daughter wearing these beautiful outfits? You took the time to coordinate, get the kids in the car (a feat in itself), and arrive to your photo session on time - let's make it worth your while!

Mother wearing white dress holding daughter's hand wearing gray dress Discovery Park

One of the reasons this family session was so successful was because of their chosen outfits. I worked closely with this Mother over a period of a few weeks to email and text photos of outfits she was considering. She received my free outfit guide that I send out before every session (all my clients have said it's so helpful!), and landed on these muted gray tones with the perfect black and white accents - perfect for this particular time of year. I think she did an amazing job putting these together and they looked so comfortable wearing them. When you have outfits like this with lots of flow and movement to them, it's simply a requirement to show off how they move. Nature is your runway and I'm going to ask you to use it to your full advantage so my camera can capture your beautiful self.

Little girl twirling in long light gray dress holding yellow flower Fall family photos

And that same sentiment goes for your kids. This little girl had lots of personality and was very willing to show off her new dress that her Mother had purchased for their session. I mean, I would show off this dress if it came in my size?!? I asked her to twirl for me and she was more than willing to show it off - love and thank you! I simply can't resist a little girl twirling in a dress she is so excited to wear - please note the adorable braided pigtails - so cute! This pose prompt was definitely another pose that I asked her to show me again. I wanted to make sure I captured the perfect memorable dress twirl that didn't look like she was trying too hard - in other words, just naturally being a carefree kid. This is where kids usually forget that they're having their picture taken. We play games, I talk to them and get down at their level (thank you knees) and help them feel a little less intimidated by my camera and large lens.

Little girl holding yellow flower walking with Mother at Discovery Park
Little girl holding yellow flower smiling at camera with Mother at Discovery Park

And just look at this face. She was so sweet and was genuinely having a lovely time because she was spending time with her parents. Candid photography is one of the main reasons why I generally don't steer my clients immediately towards posed family photos. In general, most of my clients don't come to me for those kinds of traditional photos. I know many talented photographers that do that style of photography beautifully, but that is simply not my thing. With candid photography, I find that everyone is much more relaxed and they always say they had such a great time. Quality time with your kids is so important and if I can be part of helping to create that for you and capture beautiful photos along the way, then I will be so happy!

Mother holding baby in black blanket at Discovery Park Fall family photos

When I have families with multiple kids, it sometimes fun to take turns taking photos with them. This way, kids get to run around, wiggle, and generally be silly off camera, while I capture what I like to call Motherhood portraits for my clients. These are so important to me. I think it's so lovely to be able to photograph with each child individually so that you're honoring that special moment with each child. It makes them feel special and reduces the stress of trying to get photos with all the kids at the same time, every time. Unless you have twins and then that's a whole other story!

Not so secret tip: Client experience is of the utmost importance to me. I like to make sure that all my people feel taken care of, are being paid attention to, and end up loving their photos. But, whenever I have a family session involving kids and I see that they're apprehensive, shy, etc., my focus will immediately shift. I sometimes like to say that the kids are my real clients. You will sometimes watch me turn into a kid and truly bond with them during our session. I love kid energy and it's fun for me to try to anticipate their next move. If I can keep them happy and excited, and put them at ease, then that's when we can relax and grab some beautiful pictures.

Asian family wearing neutral colors Fall family photos Discovery Park

Family portrait sessions are not always perfect. Believe me, I've had the sessions where the kids were simply not into having their picture taken, but I have some prep advice for that as well in the form of a guide. I also have a child who is barely willing to stand still for longer than 5 minutes much less pose for a family portrait. If that is your child, please book a session with me as I do have a special place in my heart for wild and free kids - I accept this challenge! During every session my style is candid, free flowing, and has subtle and sometimes lots of movement. However, if you want a traditional family portrait (who doesn't), I am more than happy to make that happen for you. Getting kids to stand still is always a challenge, but trust me when I say that I have proven tricks up my sleeve. I've got you.