Seattle Family Photography

Getting Great Family Photos When Kids are Screaming, Snotty-Nosed or Moody

“You were excited to see pumpkins ALL morning and now that we’re at the pumpkin patch, you suddenly hate pumpkins! WTF?” Typical two year olds. haha If this happens to you at your photo shoot, don’t worry. Parents and us family photographers know this phenomena well. These days I’m really not phased by anything kids throw my way. Kids can cry, scream, run away (ok, the running away is the toughest) and hide behind their parents the entire time and I still always get something usable. No, realistically, we’re not going to end up with the same abundant collection of images as if you’re kids were smiling little angels that day BUT we always get something and by something…I mean a handful.

In the history of the Happy Film Company there have been a few photo shoots that were so tricky and sucky because of bad lighting, bad attitudes or bad luck that we only ended up with a couple photos that were good enough to pass my high standards test. In these situations, we offered the families a redo photo shoot. So yes, this happens BUT 95% of the time your kids can have total meltdowns and we still get a ton of good photos.

There’s a sneaky art to getting good photos out of a shitty photo shoot experience.
It’s all about:
A) snapping the photos when the kids grabbing a breath in between screams
B) patiently charming the children until the open up or relax…even just a little bit
C) Stepping back and becoming an undercover photographer, like a sniper in the distance so parents can sooth and play without camera pressure
D) shooting so quickly that screams look like smiles or laughs lol
E) embracing the chaos and taking the best meltdown photos in history; capturing all the snotty noses and crossed arm scowls —- fine you’re gonna be like that? then we’re gonna get it all on camera! ha!

So parents, never fear. I got your back and you’re photos are gonna be beautiful.
And photographer friends, keep practicing and never let a rough shoot get you down. It’s about finding the little openings of light shining through in the storm and catching them quickly. Families will appreciate your positive eye and quick reflexes! ;)

Let me know if you have any questions.

Photographer: Chamonix
Activity: Pumpkin Patch Mini Sessions
Location: Oxbow Farm in the Snoqualmie Valley (my homeland)

The Pros & Cons of Taking Seattle Family Photos at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

My camera fogged up like a pair of glasses the moment we walked inside the giant glass greenhouse on Capitol Hill to take Seattle family Christmas photos for the Haber Family. During this shoot we experienced all the pros & cons of taking photos at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. It's a funky photo shoot location so let me tell ya what to expect:

the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos - Volunteer Park Conservatory - little girl in purple dress outfits

**THE PROS** of Taking Seattle Family Photos at Volunteer Park Conservatory:

1) Perfect Backup on Rainy Days
This location is perfect for all of our rainy days during the winter when you want to take photos "outside" but not actually outside. Not only is it dry, it's also warm because the plants need warmth just like your kids!
2) Gorgeous Natural Light
The light is glorious because of all the glass windows. In the summer, it can be too bright but in the winter when it's overcast outside, the conservatory has perfect portrait lighting.
3) So Many Cool Plants!
Inside the greenhouse, you'll have lots of plant variety to choose from; tropical plants, desert plants and seasonal plants (in November and December they have holiday decorations with a Santa chair and toy train track). My favorite room is the desert room because of all the funky cacti that are so different than the plants we have outside in the PNW. Our native plants are all dark green but the desert plants are soft pretty pastels (teals, pinks and creams) so if you like those pastel vibes, that might be the perfect room for your Seattle family photos! If you want giant leafy banana kinda leaves and your kids want to splash their fingers in a pond with some jungle vines, then the tropical room is for you. Some families like taking photos in ALL the rooms to get lots of variety and some families just choose one room and stay put so their photos look consistent (and they just like those plants best).

the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos - Volunteer Park Conservatory - photography purple outfits winter

**THE CONS** of Taking Seattle Family Photos at Volunteer Park Conservatory:

1) Can Be Busy / Crowded
The only potential downside to taking your family photos at the conservatory is that we sometimes have to wiggle around other people and other photographers.
2) Can Be Steamy
We usually have to wait a moment for my camera to de-fog (haha) and if you wear glasses, you might need your microfiber cloth or whatever you use to keep em clear. The humidity can also feel a little heavy at times (it's really not that bad though) -- this is just a warning so if you're super sensitive your hair might frizz a little or you might feel a little sweaty.
3) Tight Spaces
It can be a little bit squishy because we have to stick to the pathways and there isn't a big open area to run around in. For these reasons, sometimes this location is better for babies & younger kids that have shorter legs and might just want to hold your hand and cuddle. Older kids that have more energy that wants to explore and climb on things and be silly in photos will have lots to look at in the conservatory but they might prefer to be outside in the park. Luckily, the conservatory is location in the middle of Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill which has tons of grassy areas and forests to explore. 
4) Admission Fee
All adults need to pay a $4 admission fee (kids are free).

--- Thanks so much Haber family for a misty Seattle family holiday photography session in the greenhouse. You guys are so sweet and Hazel made the funniest little faces! I look forward to see you guys again next year! :) x Chamonix

Photographer: Chamonix
Location: Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle
Adventure: Christmas Card Photos
Shoot Date: November 2017 

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

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).