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

Farrel McWhirter Park - Playing in the Forest and the Swings Seattle Family Photography

I used to go on field trips to this park when I was a kid and I have happy memories of catching minnows in solo cups. haha Now I photograph families here sometimes. Here are my fave photos from the Carter Family's photo shoot earlier this month at Farrel McWhirter Park in Redmond <3 Chamonix

Location: Farrel McWhirter Park, Redmond, WA

Summer Picnic at Volunteer Park - Seattle Family Photography

A bouquet of lavender, a selection of doughnuts, fresh fruit, summer flowers and storybooks. Lauren is great at preparing for their family photo shoots. The Sor family always invites me out on fun photo shoot adventures and they pay attention to the little details that make a big different in the photos; wear yellow dresses and bring yellow flowers, have the girls wear leather shoes that match dad’s leather shoes, have each child match each parent’s (dad and one girl is in blue and mom and the other girl is in yellow), carry everything in a picnic basket and also have little baskets that you can spread out to hold your food…the list goes on.

None of this though is as important as the actual human story and connection that we’re celebrating. They chose to take photos at Volunteer Park because it’s where Lauren used to have summer picnics with her grandparents when she was a kid. This photo shoot was celebrating Zoe’s 1st birthday. The entire shoot revolved around laughter and playing with the girls; tasting vegetables, reading cute stories, racing across the grass. I love when parents pay attention to detail because it enhances the photos BUT I want to be very clear that it’s not the stylized details that make photos amazing or special.

It’s easy to think that a ‘good photo’ is all about matching outfits, a perfect pose and golden hour light but we’re totally missing the point if we get so obsessed or perfectionist about making it look pretty (and keeping everyone pretty, clean and sitting up straight) during the shoot that you are tense and don’t actually have fun. I’ve had a lot of stiff “must smile perfectly” families step in front of my camera over the years and it always makes me frustrated and sad. I want to run in and ruffle up their hair and make silly faces at the kids. Thank goodness though because over the years, the vibes I’ve been putting out have attracted the most wonderful families and now 99% of my photo shoots are with families that appreciate style while also showing up with big smiles, laid-back fun loving energy and overflowing love for their kids. Thank you so much you guys, Sor family and others, for bringing your beautiful energy to these shoots that fill up my schedule. I love having you as clients and I’m so grateful I get to take photos of beautiful summer evenings like this. 🖤 LOVE Chamonix

Location: Volunteer Park, Capitol Hill, Seattle
Activity: Summer Picnic