Let's Be Real in Family Photos - West Seattle Family Portraits at Alki Beach

What if my kid doesn't smile at the camera? What if they have a short attention span? What if they're obsessed with rocks and won't do anything else during our family photo shoot? First of all, who cares? Let's think about this experience as a moment to capture how things are...how they really are. Smiley photos are nice, but the ones we LOVE are the grumpy faces that you'll laugh back at, the intense focus on the shiny object (the truck, the hose, the rock), the snuggles from mom after a major meltdown. These beautiful moments of life can be captured with beautiful photography.

If we go into the shoot fixated on getting smiley photos then we're going to be stressed or frustrated if the kids don't cooperate and we'll be disappointed with the end product. If we go in open minded, give the kids freedom to explore or be shy, and celebrate the raw honest moments that are the most private and special (least photographed), then we're in for a treat.

As your photographer, I prioritize the art of making sure the photographs look beautiful and they are as flattering as possible to you. I am sensitive to double-chins, un-tucked shirts, blinking eyes etc... I keep an eye out for these things while you play freely. I want to take photos for you that are actual happy memories that got captured. I'm not as interested in taking photos that are posed just for the sake of a photo...I mean, what's the point of that?

When you look at a posed photo, sure you look pretty but does it make your heart sing with joy? I want to take photos that make you feel, cry, laugh and remember how wonderful your life is with these people you love. That's what we're shooting for, literally. So...what if your kid doesn't smile? What if they just want to hide behind your leg? We're working with kids, which means we're working with magical little creatures. Let's be patience, accepting and curious and see what happens and I'll capture it beautifully for you. Lots of love, Chamonix.

LOCATION: Alki Beach

Seattle Family Photos with Cherry Blossoms - What to Expect

So you want Seattle family photos in the cherry blossoms!! They blossom in early April and they disappear in 1-2 weeks. There are blossom trees all around the city, filling the neighborhoods and speckled across the parks. Option one is to find a random tree on the side of the road and take all your family photos in that one spot. I'm always down for that because the photos can be very creative. However, most families prefer more room to run around and some distance from passing cars. Roadside photo shoots are easier with couples photography, wedding portraits or headshots. As soon as kids are racing around we start to get a little nervous and wish we were in an expansive grassy field.

So...if you're wanting room to run around plus the cherry blossoms; or if you want to be photographed in a grove of many cherry blossom trees (rather than just one stand alone tree), we'll need to take your family portraits at the Universe of Washington Quad or the Arboretum over by Madison Park. Both of these locations are open to the public and full of pink blossoms. During the day (especially on weekends) the UW Quad becomes so crowded it's impossible to not have a gillion people in the background of your family photos. So I recommend scheduling your shoot at the UW Quad early in the morning before everyone else wakes up; 7-9am is good for light at this time of year. Generally, it's easier to do photos at the Arboretum because there's much more space and privacy. The trees are not as puffy pink as the UW trees but they do come low to the ground which means kids can play in the branches and we can get some cool photos of your family through the actual blossoms (artistic vibes!!). If you schedule a private photo shoot, you'll have a full hour to explore the Arboretum; taking photos with the cherry blossoms, the bridge, the forest etc... If we're doing mini sessions, we'll take you directly to the cherry blossom trees and just stick around there. NB: Please let us know if you know of or stumbled across another awesome cherry blossom location in Seattle. We're always on the hunt for more!!

This blog post features images of the Weaver family who I recently photographed at the Arboretum on a Sunday morning. There were a handful (3-5) other photographers nearby during their shoot; mostly couples, pregnant women and a few creative fashion-type shoots with parasols. We avoided and moved around each other smoothly, giving each other turns to play under the trees. This process is always very smooth so parents & photographers should both feel comfortable using this location for cherry blossoms.

Thank you so much Weaver family for another playful beautiful family portrait shoot with the Happy Film Company. I'm so happy you guys keep coming back for more and I'm excited to meet your new little one soon!! xx Chamonix

LOCATION: Arboretum

How to Pose and Instruct Families to Get Natural Relaxed Lifestyle Portraits

Awkward photos suck. What makes them awkward? When people don't know what they're supposed to be doing with themselves. When you're standing in front of the camera wondering if you should be smiling or moving, suddenly this stiff crooked smile wiggles its way onto your face and your forehead looks tense and your shoulders rise up.

This happens all too often with family photography because you're not professional models and standing in front of a camera is out of your comfort zone, your kids are squirming around and many photographers are so focused on clicking buttons and finding a good angle that they are totally silent behind the camera. #awkward

This whole problem is quickly & easily solved through clear communication. When I photograph families, I'm always explaining what's about to happen next and what I expect from the families. Confusion and overthinking is what leads to awkward photos so my instructions are intentionally giving just enough direction so you have something to focus on and you know what to do but they are still vague enough to allow free interpretation and authentic movement.

I want you to think about what you're doing, not how you're doing it. It's a dance between giving instructions and letting things flow freely. I give you a skeleton structure and you fill in the blanks.  Below are some specific examples of things I say:

"Hold hands and walk down the beach. As you walk you can swing your daughter, look around the view, laugh together. When you get to that log, turn around and come back."

"Stand here. Face out toward the water and throw your daughters up in the air. When you're tired or they've had enough, just stand close together and have a little family group hug."

"Sit here. Cuddle close together so your hips are touching. Tickle each other and keep tickling."

"Let's take a smiley photo at the camera. Stand close together. Look right here. One. Two Three. Perfecto!"

"I'm going to wander around and take pictures from different spots. You guys just play together around this area. You can splash in the waves, pick up rocks, cuddle, whatever feels fun."