How Photographing Children Taught Me to Play as an Adult

"Ewww" that was my reaction when someone handed me a baby 6 years ago. I thought kids were annoying and I was WAY too busy building businesses to sit around and play. Zoom forward 6 years and now all I want to do is go on the swings, make animal noises and throw dance parties. I can hang out with kids ALL day and often, they're the only people I feel like I can be myself around without fear of being judged or pressured or whatever sh*t comes with adulthood. What happened? Well, one day I did the math and realized starting a Seattle family portrait photography business would be a profitable idea. So I took my positive personality and camera skills and I created the Happy Film Company. At first, playing with kids was awkward but as long as I was hiding behind my camera I felt okay. Overtime though, I got better at the kid thing and eventually I felt like an expert and playing with kids. Then one morning I woke up and realized, hey, I actually love playing with kids! All this playtime rekindled my childlike spirit and I feel happier than ever. And just to be clear, I'm not talking about perfect parenting and child psychology...I'm talking about one human that's 29 years old making silly faces with another human who is 2 years old. Keepin' it simple. I'm 100% down to make those same silly faces with other 30 year olds but unfortunately they're a tougher crowd...it's much harder to get them to play.

I don't have kids of my own but I do live with my 2yr old niece, so I'm a very hands-on auntie. We crawl around the kitchen like tigers and we blow bubbles in our water. When I'm on photo shoots, I'm always whispering to kids, asking them what they want to do and usually they say something like "throw rocks". Some parents freak out and think that throwing rocks on a photo shoot is totally inappropriate but I guess those aren't the families that come to the Happy Film Company...I've weeded them out over time I guess. haha My favorite photos are usually taken in those moments when the adults step back and let the kids decide what's important. Like seriously, in 50 years are we going to be tearing up over that photo where you all stood together and smiled...or over the photo of you guys team-working-it to throw a giant rock into the river? 

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If you need help remembering how to play...not just "playing with your kids" to make them happy, but actually playing because you're having fun too (like you'd want to keep going even if your kid stopped), then please send me an email today and let's schedule a photo shoot. It's a magic way to break up your routine and set aside some time to play together -- plus you don't have to come up with any playful ideas yourself because I'll tell you what to do (pick her up and swing her around, throw her in the air, chase him, tickle them, play peek a boo etc...). For one hour, you'll have no other responsibilities, nowhere else to go, nothing else to do...we'll all just hang out and see if the kids help us remember how to have fun. My secret hope (not so secret anymore of course after this blog post) is that the photos we take that day will remind you guys to keep having fun, even when the camera isn't there. The photos are there to stir up good times, both when they're taken and when they're looked at later.

-- Chamonix

Other Resources
Learning to Play with Your Kids By Vicki Glembocki from Parents Magazine

How to Photograph Families Organically - Seattle Family Photography with Evergreen Trees at St. Edward Park

When I first started photographing families in Seattle, I would give lots of instructions on how to pose and what to do. I would be talking a lot of the time to make sure everyone felt comfortable and never awkward. The photos turned out great but I was always in control. Then one day, my husband and I got photographed and the photographer hardly said a word. We felt unsure and slightly uncomfortable but after a while we just realized that was how it was going to be and so we started talking, playing around and just hugging. Those were my favorite photos because it was us just being ourselves, not posed, not following orders, just us chilling while a camera hovered around to capture whatever we decided to do. It was refreshingly authentic.

the Happy Film Company - St. Edwards Park - Seattle Family Photography - Family walking down path holding hands with brick building

So I brought that little trick back to my own photography toolbox. Nowadays when I'm photographing families for the Happy Film Company, I give some instructions (to make sure everyone still feels comfortable and understands that they can do whatever they want) and then from there, I leave it up to the parents and kids to just enjoy time together. If they kids are feeling cuddly, then we just cuddle. If they get antsy, we'll start running. It's way less about getting a perfect pose, and way more about creating a comfortable environment so everyone feels free to do whatever they want together and then the photos turn out with a little extra sprinkle of happiness...because everything that happened was organic. Plus, it's stimulating my creativity because instead of trying to come up with new poses (which usually just end up looking stiff, I start searching for new ways to approach the same old stuff, new angles, new camera settings, new breathing techniques to stay focused behind the camera and notice little details I was overlooking (because I was so focused on silly poses). 


This photo shoot with the Weaver family at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore, WA was full of organic playfulness. I just sent them into the woods and asked them to do whatever the girls felt like doing. So they climbed on the bench, dragged a big log, swung in the air, raced around and made pirate faces. Easy-peasy. Thank you so much Weaver's for bring so much joy to your shoot. I'm excited to see you again soon! Happy holidays :) xx Chamonix & tHFC Ladies

Photographer: Chamonix
Location: St. Edward Park, Kenmore WA

LOCATION INFO
Taking your Seattle family photos at St Edward Start Park in Kenmore, Washington is perfect if you love the idea of evergreen trees, forest trails, a big open grassy field to running around in, a beautiful brick monastery, and if you're willing to take a longer walk for it, the beach of Lake Washington.  Most of the photo shoots we do here are forest based. The Weaver's have moved around the country a lot and they were excited to take pictures with the big green trees, so we did their photo shoot in the middle of the field where I could capture the treeline in the background. There is lots of parking at this location but you are required to have a Discovery Pass ($30) or pay for a day pass ($10). 

Butterfly Themed 1st Birthday Cake Smash Party

Another amazing birthday party thrown by the Clabeaux family! We were just at Sebastian's 3rd birthday with a cool firetruck theme and now we get to share some butterfly cuteness with ya! The Clabeaux family has a beautiful home in Queen Anne, Seattle and they enjoy throwing fun themed birthday parties for their kids that always include attention to details like party favors, special cake decorations and interactive activities for the children. In the past, they've also done a bubble party and "The Little Prince" theme party. If you're looking for party planning inspiration, Maria has also written a blog post for us with her top tips for planning kids birthday partiesThanks so much Clabeaux's for another beautiful celebration. See you soon!! // Chamonix & tHFC Ladies

Photographer: Ashley
Activity: Cake Smash / Birthday Party
Location: Private Residence