the Happy Film Company

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)

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

How to Help Kids and Parents Act Natural and Have Fun During a Seattle Family Photo Shoot

How do we get those photos of families playing, looking so natural and genuinely having fun? It's probably 1% photography & posing skills and 99% human psychology. Why do kids get shy with a photographer? They don't know you! Why do parents get awkward? They feel like they're supposed to be doing something and they aren't sure what it is exactly and they're worried if they're doing it right. So obviously, the solutions become simple. When photographing kids, give them their space, talk to them and ask them questions and play. Take an interest in what they want to do until they trust you and feel comfortable. Often the kids that the most shy at the beginning of the photo shoot have the biggest personalities and by the end of the shoot they're posing like Beyonce and hammin' it up for the camera. If you don't know the kids, ask the parents how they are at home and usually you'll hear about a huge playful attitude that just needs time to come out. And then when you're dealing with parents, help them relax by giving simple clear instructions so they know without a shadow of a doubt what they should be doing. And just so you know, "Go play with your kids for a few minutes. I'm not going to say anything for a while but when I want you to do something different, I'll let you know." is totally legit direction giving. If you tell them that you aren't going to talk for a little while so they can just play with their kids, then they feel free to just do anything they want and they aren't wondering what you're thinking or expecting. See? At all times kids and parents must feel safe by knowing a) exactly what's going on b) exactly what they're supposed to be doing (even if it's just hanging around) and c)  they can take their own sweet time to feel comfortable and they aren't being pressured. Obviously, there's a ton more to say on this topic but this a general overview of my mindset going into the family photo shoots we do at the Happy Film Company. This Seattle family photo shoot I did with the Frick family at Bybee Blueberry farm in North Bend was a perfect example of this photography approach. The first half of the shoot, I told the parents to just go have fun picking berries with their kids and I just let the kids wander around picking berries - I took photos from far away and just asked them little questions like "Can I see inside your bucket?" After 30 minutes, I told the parents "Let's start taking some portraits. Stand over here yadda yadda..." and by now the kids were more comfortable with me so I was able to start playing with them - games like peekaboo, silly faces, ran as fast as you can at my camera etc... and those shy kids were suddenly lovin' the camera and within a few minutes, mom and dad were joining in the fun, throwing kids in the air, racing around and having tickle fights. Everybody is playful inside, you just have to help them feel safe and give them permission to interact freely with each other. If you have questions about this topic or anything else related to happy family portrait photography or videography, feel free to send them to me at Happy shooting! ~ Chamonix Thank you so much Frick family for another beautiful family shoot - what a treat to spend a Saturday morning in the sunshine beneath Mt. Si with your joyful kids. Thanks for coming back to the Happy Film Company again and again. I look forward to our next shoot together :) x Chamonix

Photographer: Chamonix
Location:  Bybee Blueberry farm (North Bend)