Category Archives: Families

Need a senior session? Radiant photography founders and owners, Scott & Breanna, would love to be a part of it! Here’s some of the work they’ve done with families!

Multiple babies, mutliple moms, and multiple photos: Mom’s Group photos (by Scott & Breanna)

One day Scottie and I were strolling through the park and we just found all these babies sitting together. They were all the same age and they were just chilling on a blanket together, so we took a picture.

Did that really happen? No, of course not.

What did happen is that our friend Allison (you may remember her and little Vincent from the baby story video we made when they were expecting him!) gave us a call to come and meet up with her moms group for a little photo shoot!

So we all got together and the kids were perfect, smiled, did exactly what we told them to, and were happy the whole time!

Did that really happen? No, of course not.

These are tiny little children we’re talking about people!

Photo day isn’t as easy for them as you might think! You’d have your moments too if everyone around you was poking, prodding, taunting you by holding up toys you can’t have, setting you on the ground before quickly running away, and acting like crazy people for reasons you can’t possibly comprehend!

So taking all the typical photo insanity into consideration, these little ones did incredibly well holding up to it all! Things went very smoothly and everyone involved had a lot of fun!

Did that really happen? Why yes, yes it did.

Click to see more of the moms group photo session here.

Vincent is 6 months old and he`s already a man of the world

In a short six months, Vincent truly has accomplished more than most of us could dream of achieving in that amount of time. And that really puts the rest of us to shame because six months is exactly the amount of time he’s been alive. What can I say? He’s a doer!

Not only did he figure out how to use his lungs, his vocal chords, and all kinds of other impressive traits he’s been blessed with, but now he can also sit up….

… touch his head (which is the accomplishment he is the most proud of as you will soon see)…

… and he can fit a whole ball in his mouth.

Not to mention, he’s already been crowned king of someplace or other (how that happened I don’t know- it didn’t seem an appropriate time to ask him)….

Did I mention he’s almost got his color wheel completely down through the pantome book that his artist daddy got him?!

We definitely know he’s already developed an exquisite taste for the finer things in life (mostly he likes to suck on professional camera lenses… the more expensive, the better).

Oh and let’s not forget that he’s already gone somewhat viral since he’s been spread around Facebook like internet candy because he was the subject of our very first video project back when he was a newborn!

And last but not least, he’s already has his very own photo shoot… twice actually!!!

My boy, you truly are amazing! Your parents must be so proud!

Even if you weren’t specifically aware of all his major achievements, you would get the feel for it right away because his face reveals all his worldly wisdom and experience right away.

(this is what I call the guilty face)

I mean, you don’t develop these kind of facial expressions from eating and sleeping alone… this dude has done some living!

And man, does he have some stories to tell!

But until he can use his big boy words to tell us them, he’s going to use his eyebrows, nose, or whatever other feature he has at his disposal that he’s most recently discovered. Or he will just put his hands on his head again…

… and again.

So Vincent my boy, you are quite a man already.

Keep on accomplishing the amazing, and we will keep on oohing and awing about you… even if it’s just because your mommy dresses you well or because you’re just plain adorable (basically we’re going to ooh and aw no matter what you do).

(“I’m King of the world!!”)

Click to see the rest of Vincent’s 6 month photo shoot here.

How to Plan a Truly Great Family Photo Session (Part 4: The Interactions)

This is the last post in the series “How to Plan a Truly Great Family Photo Session” (click here to start it from the beginning). Unless I think of something else to say about it of course! Today we’re talking about what may seem like the most obvious aspect of a great family photo session… the interactions between family members.

It’s one thing to spend time hanging out together in private in your home but it’s another thing to do it when someone pulls out a camera since that simple action is likely to make at least one of your family members (if not all of them) freeze up and instantly feel awkward. Plus there are different stages throughout your children’s lives and sometimes it’s hard to find an activity that everyone can participate in and have fun with.  Some families interact very naturally together without any outside help and others need something to prompt them, or to do together, to help them interact naturally.  You know your family and if you are the kind that might need a little extra push in this area (especially when there’s a camera around). Either way, I hope the Cottrell’s example might get some wheels turning for you….

(Somehow the kids kept losing important clothing items throughout the session so this picture cracks me up… and reminds me about Nicole’s relaxed, non-stressed attitude! See post 3 for more on that!).

The Cottrells have family snuggle time in bed on Saturday mornings.  This means, dad’s home from work and the kids crawl into their parents’ bed to hang out and start off their weekend together. What an AMAZING and special time to share in together every week! And since this is a regular thing they do together that everyone in the family loves, I can think of nothing better to capture on picture day.

When the Cottrell kids grow up and think of good times with their parents, I have no doubt they’ll think of Saturday mornings in bed together, so those are the kind of memories we want to preserve in photos.  Especially because it will make it that much more amazing when the kids grow up and keep the same tradition with their own kids and have a photographer capture the same memories with their family.  How cool would that be?!?

So why on earth would you rather have pictures of everyone sitting and smiling together in a park than family snuggle time photos?!

Because for some reason, family photo time has become the exact opposite of family snuggle time in many ways.  It has become so much colder.  Why is that?! We have digital now, we can take thousands of pictures and it costs us nothing! So we can afford to sacrifice a few blurry photos due to the kids jumping on the bed too much or a couple of dark pictures as we get the indoor lighting just right.  Posy- posy type of pictures come from back in the day when a single picture cost a ton of money to take and you couldn’t risk one not being perfect!  We can risk it now so lets make the most of it!

So while you’re trying to think of what backgrounds make your family look best (because that’s important too), make sure you take the time to think about what activities make your family the most YOU. Think about what each of your kids like to do to showcase their personalities.  The Cottrells’ little boy loves to sit at the piano and play (he seriously can play specific notes in specific order… I guess that’s called a song!) so they planned some of that time into the session.

Their little girl loves to entertain and tell dramatic stories (while jumping on the bed apparently!) so they let her go ahead and do that while they all sat attentively!

A major factor in the Cottrell family session is that the parents were very active participants.

Don’t forget, it’s not all about the kids.  I don’t care if you don’t like how you look right now, your kids will want pictures of you playing with them when they grow up whether you’re 100 lbs overweight with adult acne or not!

Family picture time is about so much more than looks and these pictures are for everyone so don’t get obsessed with yourself and how YOU look. Get in there and be great parents who really play with their kids and participates in their interests!

(Even if that means getting your head stepped on every once in awhile).

That’s the way people will remember you, rather than as someone who’s missing in all the photos because they were sadly insecure.

So be thinking of things your family does together.  How do you interact together?  I don’t just mean playing kids games either.  Do you hold your child while they stir the brownie batter? Lets get a picture of that. Do they imitate you getting ready in the morning or while you clean house? Lets get a picture of that.  Do you play dress up together, have dance parties, work in the garden, make meals together…. any of that is GREAT for pictures!  Just make sure you chose something that keeps you close, touching, and happy and your pictures will look amazing.

So let’s review what you’ve learned so far…

When you are planning a family photo session make sure you consider the right timing for the session, the style (pick 1 item to build your wardrobe, location, and props from), your attitude and expectations about the session, and what activities show your family as they really are at this stage in life.

Well that’s it!  Now you know how to do it, how to have a truly great family photo session! You know how to have the right style, attitude, and interactions.  But even with all that great info, the most  important thing is that you don’t think of this as picture day.  Think of it as a visual representation of the kind of love you have for one another and most of all… think of it as a great day you’ll have with your family that you want to remember forever. That will make it a truly great family photo session.

(Click to read the series from the beginning.)

 

How to Plan a Truly Great Family Photo Session (Part 3: The Attitudes)

In this series about planning a truly great photo session (click here to catch up) I’ve decided to really go at it on this one because this topic is incredibly important! When I say that “The Attitudes” are very important to having a truly great family session, I mean the attitudes of all the family members involved. No, this isn’t an “attitude is everything” speech and I don’t even mean everyone should be happy (although that would be great as well).  What I mean is that there is a lot of pressure and expectations for family picture day. So many in fact, that those things alone can actually ruin picture day… and the pictures that go with picture day.

So when I say attitudes I’m talking about your attitude about the session. That is what will REALLY set the tone for the day.

So let’s talk about the Cottrell’s attitude towards their session
I mentioned in the first post that Nicole came to me with all sorts of ideas and most of it was based around a family photo session done by another photographer that I had shared on my personal Facebook page because I loved it so much.  The thing with this session was that this couple’s SEVEN children were all super well-behaved, seemingly expert fashion models who all apparently came out of the womb with the ability to hold their own unique poses for as long as a photographer requested.  Seriously, these kids snapped into poses so difficult that even adults can’t do them and held them long enough for the photographer to get several great shots from it… it must be genetic or something.  Whatever it is, it is definitely a high standard to base your photo session on… which we made the mistake of doing.

Only, it wasn’t actually a mistake because it happened to turn out great for one reason and one reason alone… the parents let go of their expectations in the very beginning of the session.

Sure a perfectly poised, well manicured group of little ones is quite a stunning site… but a slightly off kilter, very rambunctious set of siblings having a blast together is even better than a “perfect” photo.

(This picture of her dad trying to prevent her from crushing her brother’s head makes me literally laugh out loud every single time I see it. See, Scottie just now came in the room to see what I was laughing about).

I think we all know that natural is better, but for some reason it’s still hard to believe it and we still try to get the kids to sit and behave like angels for a good hour and a half.  Not going to happen.

Even if it does work out from time to time, I’m not totally sure that’s the way a family photo session should be!

Every once in awhile, we are able to get some cool posed shots with kids, like this one of The Ellison family…

(Best signage ever!)

…but I STILL like the ones where they got to be themselves much better!

So here is Nicole and Jon trying to pose their munchkins into perfect little manicans while the kids continue to jump and bounce right out of their hands.

I’m not kidding, that little girl bounced around CONSTANTLY.

I felt lucky that we were able to get at least some pictures without her red curls standing straight up over her head!

So I was sooo relieved when I saw Nicole and Jon just throw up their hands and say “whatever, let’s just let them do their thing”.

(I totally love this picture where both kids are unhappy and Jon and Nicole are just cracking up about it! Chip and Kay have a similar photo below from their session where both kids are crying and they can’t stop laughing because they’ve just chosen to enjoy every second of it no matter what).

Below is the photo series where you can actual see Nicole making the choice to relax and let go!

Ha ha I LOOOOVE IT!:-)

I remember a lady I used to babysit for had 3 GIANT prints hanging in her hallway and each one was a photo of each of her kid’s screaming, crying face filling the entire frame!  Awesome.

I’m not a mom yet, but according to my mom, you just miss your kids being little. 

That means you miss their little feet, their little hands, their ever changing personalities at different stages… even maybe the way they looked when they cried.  That was who they were then and it was your whole world for a time… and you might not have a single picture of it. You might wish you could remember their pouty face, but you just can’t quite recall it and you wish you had a picture of it.

(or you’ll miss their little mischievous face… like the one this little guy is showcasing for us!)

No one with grown children has ever told me they wish they had more pictures of their kids smiling at the camera or sitting up straight in green grass. That’s not life, it’s not them, and it’s not you. You, your kids, and your family in this particular stage you are in is what we’re trying to capture.

Another important note on this point is that… WE DO NOT JUDGE YOU!!! 

Sometimes I think half of the reason parents spend majority of picture day trying to wrangle and control their kids is because they’re embarrassed by their kids “bad” behavior.  Just so you know, most people in this world (including kids) don’t love picture day. Which means we’ve seen it all and it seems like at almost every single photo session the parents have said to us, “I just don’t know what happened today, they never act like this! Of course it would happen on picture day!”

Yeah, of course, because when else are you commanding them to do things they never actually do in normal life, or getting in huge fights and then smiling like it’s all OK 15 seconds later, or punishing them for being shy, or yelling at them for not being happy?!  It’s a weird thing, picture day is!  And kids don’t like it anymore than adults.  But it doesn’t have to be this way!  It can be MUCH more natural and relaxed and even actually… fun (gasp)!  Sure, we’ll try to get at least 1 or 2 photos of the whole family sitting, smiling and looking good and we don’t want ALL the pictures to be them crying and screaming! We want a balance that shows who you really are!

Sometimes that means you are all posed so we can see your faces to just know what you actually look like, and sometimes that means you are upset, and sometimes laughing uncontrollably.  Don’t limit yourselves to only show one side of your family on picture day.  Especially when it comes to your kids… let them be themselves, not the version of them you want them to be that you’re excited to show off to people.

(As you can see in the following two pictures, upside down is as good a side as any to show off … maybe even better than right side up at times!).

Stop worrying about how everyone is perceiving you…from the family members who will see the pictures, to your photographers themselves… none of your memories matter as much to any of us as they do to you.  Relax and allow us to capture the meaning in your life, not the vision of a perfect family that you have in your head.

(Uh oh, someone’s about to be in trouble!)

So while I just went on and on about relaxing and being “real”,  I know there is still some level of order and organization that needs to go into a family photo session, so I say, follow the Cottrell’s example and bring along a third party to take care of all that for you.  Nicole and Jon brought along the kids babysitter on family photo day. So when it came time for clothing changes, rounding them up, making sure they don’t run straight into the busy street that was 2 feet away…. all of that was handled by the babysitter so that Jon and Nicole could JUST HAVE FUN with their kids!

When you are chasing them around and digging through the bag for their snacks, while trying to smile and look all put together… the stress and tension in you does show up.  We have had several family sessions in the past where it has been difficult to get a single photo of the parents smiling.  That is so sad!  We want you to remember the moments that we’re capturing as some of the best times your family ever had together! I know that real life does get in the way and prevent you from spending fun, quality time with your children as much as you’d like to, but that’s why you bring along an assistant to take care of the real life stuff to allow you to be your real selves with each other (not just the jumbled balls of stress you tend to turn into) and truly enjoy your family without all the junk getting in the way that makes it difficult.

So while you’re working on planning the timing and style of  your session… make sure you take time to think about your expectations. Having a plan is good because we’ll at least start with that.  But once things get rolling, take a deep breathe and let it go… and then start laughing out loud a little bit and I’ll bet that will make everyone else start laughing out loud a lot. And you’re on your way to a truly great family photo session.

In Part 4 (click to read it!), I talk about how interactions affect family photo sessions.  Click here to start this series from the beginning.

How to Plan a Truly Great Family Photo Session (Part 1: When to do it)

What do you think of when you think of family photo sessions?  Green grass, matching colors, and pearly whites? Well OK, but we think of a lot more than that and we want to share some of our insider info with you on what it means to plan a perfect family photo session!

Considering that a lot of what we have learned as been through experience, we’re going to tell the stories of some of our past photo sessions to give you ideas about what you can do well.  The main session we’re focusing on is The Cottrell Family session because I titled their original blog “The Cottrells Are our Dream Team” and really that still holds true.  The Cottrell session is the one that we show people whenever we want to impress them and make them think we’re the best photographers alive.  It’s the session we show off to other photographers when we’re teaching photography classes so that they know we know what we’re doing and that they should listen to what we’re saying.  The thing is though, that while this photo session turned out AMAZING, it had just as much to do with who the family was as who the photographer was (listen closely and you can hear the sound of my ego blow).

So what gives? What is soooo special about this family that they were able to create such a perfect session? Well for starters they really are just a special family. They definitely are a rare and creative breed who are the trend setters in our world.  The thing is, just because they’re creative enough to have figured this out on their own, doesn’t mean that you have to be able to do the same.  They’ve set the standard and now you can learn from it.  Their tricks can be taught!  So that’s what I’m going to be teaching in this special blog series that will pop up on the Radiant blog from time to time about “How to Plan a Truly Great Family Photo Session”.

And so we begin….

I believe that the key to a mind blowing, tear inducing, life time of remembering family session can be broken down into 3 categories.

1. The style

2. The attitudes

3. The interactions

Bam!  Now you know it all! Well, not really.  But let me get you started at least.  There are good reasons and times to have a family session and there are not quite as good reasons and times to have a family session.  With kids, particularly infants and young children, there are definitely different times and stages that will help your photo session live up to it’s full potential….

For infant photos…

…you want to shoot your baby within 10 days of being born. Yep, that’s right.  You have a 10 day window, which means you still feel terrible after what your body just went through, and you still don’t know exactly what you’re doing as a parent.  But that’s OK because we know what to do and we will do our job best if you sit back and let us do our thing. Once they’re more than 10 days old, they begin to be much more difficult for us to pose, they have their eyes open more (but they are never actually looking at the camera so sleeping eyes are best), and they have developed favored positions which means they are less moldable and poseable for us. So to schedule a newborn session, the best idea is to call when you’re pregnant and let us know your due date so we can put it on our calendars and at least make sure we don’t fill up the weeks surrounding your date so that our schedule is flexible enough to work with you on that 10 day time frame when the baby actually comes.

For baby photos…

… anything after they can sit up on their own is great.  That’s why people usually do 6 month photos… they are a lot more responsive to people by that age so they interact better and their little personality begins to show through a little bit better.  So aside from your sleeping infant photos, this is probably the time that will remind you the most of who your little one was as a baby.

For 1 year photos…

… this has less to do with their developmental stages and more to do with commemorating the year. I love the idea of yearly photos to see how your baby grows and to give you a marker to remind you that you haven’t had photos done in awhile so you don’t just wake up 10 years later and realize you forgot to schedule photo sessions for the past 9 years!

Anytime past the 1 year mark….

… these have a lot more to do with family interactions than anything.  We want to capture your child’s personality and their role and relationships within your family. This is the stage I’m going to be focusing on when I talk about “Family Photos” in this series. Mostly because that’s the age the Cottrell kids were at the time of their session so it helps me talk more specifics. Of course many of the same principles will apply to earlier in life so you know, just use your brain to make these tips fit for you and your family.

When the Cottrells scheduled their family photo session….

When Nicole (the mom) was inspired. The ages of her kids weren’t as relevant as some of the beginning years so that gave her the flexibility to wait until she had an idea. THIS is genius. I had shared a photo session by another photographer on my personal Facebook page because I thought it was such an amazing session.  Nicole saw the post and was immediately inspired by it so she called me saying, “I have a good idea, we should do it”. And I love that.  During our first call, she was just rambling on and on with ideas. This is a huge deal because SHE knows her family way better than I do so for her to come with her own ideas versus relying on me to come up with ideas made the session work 1,000 times better.  By the way guys, I only have so many ideas so they definitely begin to repeat after awhile!  I need LOTS of help from you to come up with a creative family session! They were HER ideas to represent HER family as who they really are.  And that is always the goal of a family session!

So start looking for inspiration!  When you see it, call us and go with it! I just started a Pinterest board called “Ideas for Clients” that you can start following to give you that little added push! And actually that inspirational board is what inspired me to start this blog series!  I kept coming up with good tip ideas from the Cottrell session so I figured I’d put it all together and share it with our fans! I hope you love it!

If you want to know each time we post the next part in this series  Like our Facebook page to stay updated!

Read part 2 HERE about the first of the 3 things that make a family session truly great: the style.