Photographing Kids in Action without Looking Through the Viewfinder

Standing still and taking family portraits is hella boring.
Racing through a field with giggly little boys is hella fun.

I was at the pumpkin patch last weekend and I wanted action photos. The boys took off and I went with them, camera held down low by my knees (I had no idea what the lens was focusing on), clicking, hoping that this playful moment would be captured beautifully…not blurry…please don’t be blurry!!

The first photo shoot I ever did at the Happy Film Company was on a beach in Maui, HI. The kids were in bathing suits running around and splashing in the water. I held my camera inches above the water, praying the salty liquid would not attack and ruin my equipment.

Through shoots like this, I learned how to work quickly, dangerously and keep up with kids. The camera had to become a part of my body; I had to learn what it was pointing at even without looking through it.

This is a super useful skill to practice — take pictures without looking through the viewfinder; lift the camera above your head, hold it out to the side, run with it down by your feet. It’s mental math; you’ll end up subconsciously calculating the angle of the camera and the light and this will free you up to move around more and interact face to face (not hiding behind the camera). It’s a lot of trial and error. At first, most of your photos will be ugly and useless. Keep practicing. You’re training muscle memory here.

Chamonix :)

Photographer: Chamonix
Location: Oxbow Farm, Snoqualmie Valley
Activity: Pumpkin Patch

The Secret Behind Photography Crazy Children - Lifestyle Seattle Newborn Photography

Baby Georgi was crying her eyes out and Kennedy was running around like a crazy girl. The Cahill house was bustling with unusual energy the minute I walked in their front door with my camera. Who knows why kids act the way they do? Totally unpredictable personalities seem to emerge when the camera arrives.

Family photos never seem to go as planned because babies that never use pacifiers suddenly scream until they get one and little girls who normally love reading books decide they'd rather play catch with their dolls and eat ice cream for brunch. ha!

Parents usually look at my with a big "sorry" in their eyes as their kids run around me and my camera in a hurricane of kid-chaos but I hope you believe when I honestly say, 
1) It's my job and I'm used to it.
2) I love my job and kid-chaos is actually fun to photograph (esp. when they aren't your kids). 3) I've photographed over 500 families and I've seen it all. Chances are, your family is probably not the worst I've encountered (trust me) and
4) If it really is that bad, I'm just going to go home, eat some chocolate, and tell my boyfriend I just survived the worst photo shoot of all time!!!!!! Being the optimist that he is, he'll probably pat me on the back and remind me that it's my job to make sure photo shoots run smoothly. Then we'll sit down and brainstorm how I can do a better job next time to prepare or direct the photo shoot in a more effective stress-free way. See? It's all part of the job and we're gettin' better every day!

Thank you so much Cahill family for welcoming me into your home and being so kind and playful. I genuinely loved photographing you guys and I'm not complaining to my boyfriend about anything (you guys are great clients!)...that said, I'm still going to eat some chocolate....because like your daughter, sometimes I like a little sugar for before lunch ;) hehe See you again soon! // Chamonix

Photographer: Chamonix
Adventure: Lifestyle Newborn Shoot
Location: Private Residence

Best Seattle Family Photo Shoot Locations Near Water

Want to take your Seattle family photos next to water? Easy. We're swimming in possibilities (haha)! At the Happy Film Company we take photos all around the Seattle area - going all the way up to Everett, down towards Tacoma and over on the Eastside so we've explored and discovered some awesome spots that we're excited to share! There's lot of variety from rocky beaches with driftwood, to soft sand beaches with kelp and lakes and rivers surrounded by tall grasses and playgrounds. Here's our top list of Seattle family photo shoot locations that include beautiful water features.

GREENLAKE (North Seattle) (map)
Perfect for: an afternoon in the city park with a picnic on the dock and a game of catch under the trees Right in the heart of the city neighborhoods, it's bustling with people but super convenient. We love taking pictures out on the dock (on the east side of the lake) because it gives you a little privacy and a great view of the water. There are rollerbladers and dog walkers on the pedestrian path that goes around the lake so we usually avoid the crowds and find an open grassy area under the trees to take pictures. This park is gorgeous at all times of year but especially in the fall when the city trees are orange and red. These colors look beautiful next to the cool grey water. (Click here to see their blog post)

Family photos at the Greenlake in Seattle - the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos

GOLDEN GARDENS (Ballard) (map)
Perfect for: a day at a beach (that feels kinda tropical), playing in the sand, flying a kite, or splashing in the waves.
The closest you're gonna get to real beachy photos in Seattle. The sand at this beach is plentiful and softer. There are sand dunes with grass spouting up. In the summer, everyone is running around in swimsuits. There are tall tree groves that remind us of Hawaii and there are also some big green fields if you get sick of sand. This is a great location for the big open beach, sand, ocean vibes. (Click here to see their blog post)

SUNSET BEACH (Edmonds) (map)
Perfect for: a long walk down a Pacific Northwesty beach with big rocks to climb on and ferry boats coming and going.
Another big beach with lots of sand! There is a ferry terminal at this beach and some big wooden pillars sticking up out of the sand. There is a long rock wall with ragged rocks to climb on and there is often lot of seaweed and kelp to play with or run away from. There is some wild grass you can wade into if you'd like to add some greenery to your shoot.  You can see the Olympic mountains in the distance and sometimes a train goes by. It's a very Pacific Northwest vibe at this beach. (Click here to see their blog post)

Maternity shoot at Sunset Beach in Edmonds - the Happy Film Company- Seattle Family Photos

OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK (Downtown Seattle) (map)
Perfect for: playing on driftwood, collecting cool rocks and climbing on boulders without even leaving the city!
This spot is super well hidden. The Olypmic Sculpture Park has a grass and cement paths with views of the Space Needle, skyscrapers and Puget Sound. Once we walk through the actual park, we'll emerge on a little water-side pathway that leads us to a hidden gravel beach with big washed-up tree trunks. The beach is shaped like a horse-shoe and it's full of cool rocks for kids that like to explore and touch stuff. Very convenient location for city dwellers or families exploring Pike Place Market before/after their photo shoot. (Click here to see their blog post)

Family Photo Shoot at Olympic Sculpture Part - the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos

ALKI BEACH (West Seattle) (map)
Perfect for: sea-shell searching, feeling that California boardwalk vibe and awesome views of the mountains & city

Alki Beach feels like a little slice of California hidden in Seattle. The beach is very long with tons of sand (both rocky and soft), a cement pathway with bicycles, rollerblades, boat houses, restaurants, volleyball and views of mountains AND the city. From the right spot you can even see downtown Seattle, space needle and all! (Click here to see their blog post)

JUANITA BEACH PARK (North Kirkland) (map)
Perfect for: splashing  in puddles, hiding in tall grass, and feeling like you're almost at the ocean without the long drive!
It feels like you're at the ocean but it's just the north side of Lake Washington! There is grass and playground, big sandy beach with grasses and a cement path. You can also venture off into the tall grasses and find a hidden beach where you can walk out into the water to see little "tide-pools" and sand bars. This park is unique because there is a walkway out on the water that surrounds the beach. (Check out their blog post)

KIRKLAND MARINA (Downtown Kirkland) (map)
Perfect for: swinging your feet on the dock while eating ice cream and watching the boats, ducks and people go by.
Right in downtown Kirkland, this location has a curved sandy beach with big rocks to climb on or cement steps to sit or walk on, grassy areas for play, a big round gazebo and benches, and a couple wooden docks. One wooden dock is hidden behind some trees and is usually pretty empty (we used this dock for the Lee Family photos) and the other dock is the big busy one with all the boats tied to it. Both are fun to explore, watch ducks, and dangle your feet. This is a harbor location that's very busy with people and boats so your photo shoot will be very dynamic with lots of interesting things in the background. (Click here to see their blog post)

Family Photo Shoot at Kirkland Marina - the Happy Film Company- Seattle Family Photos

MARYMOOR DOG PARK (Redmond) (map)
Perfect for: a wild journey through the dog park fields and forest to a hidden dock on the lake.
If you're up for a walking adventure through the dog park fields, the thick forest trail and down gravel pathways this is a perfect location to take pictures in nature! At first dogs will be everywhere but once you hit the forest it's pretty isolated and the lush trees back a gorgeous background anytime of year. After 20 minutes of walking, we'll reach the secret dock that goes out over the lilypads on Lake Sammamish. We can take pictures along the entire journey in the woods and get a big wide shot of the lake behind you at the end. (Click here to see  their blog post)

Engagement Photo Shoot Marymoor Dog Park- the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos

MEDINA BEACH PARK (Bellevue) (map)
Perfect for: walking out on the rocks, playing in the sand and feeling a charming sense of privacy
Super secret  (well, not anymore haha). This is a charming beachy location with a small sand area that kids like to play in with their bucket and shovels. There is a big rock jetty that we walk out on for photos and always take pictures that show off the big sky and all the water behind. The birch trees are gorgeous in the photos because their white bark stands out and on sunny days they provide a soft filter for the sunlight. It's a cute place for a little picnic on the grass beneath these trees and the beach out behind is actually a really pretty building that adds a 'cute' factor to the shoot. 

Beach Walk Photo Shoot at Medina Beach Park - the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos

LUTHER BURBANK PARK (Mercer Island) (map)
Perfect for: running around exploring the trees and chillin' out on the dock.
A playground, a trail through some open fields, a little sandy beach with concrete steps and a lifeguard stand, plus an AWESOME cement dock! This is another hidden beach that usually pretty empty and has cool views of Lake Washington that we aren't used to seeing. There is also a little fire engine playground and a little hill you can sit on while looking out at the water. It's low key but beautiful. (Click here to see their blog post)

Family Photo Shoot at Luther Burbank Park - the Happy Film Company - Seattle Family Photos