Shooting In-Home Sessions | St. Augustine Photographer
Welcome to the very first Danielle Brooks Photography Blog Series! By photographers, for photographers! I am so excited to have Molly Wantland writing for the blog today!! She is such a talented photographer. If you haven't heard of her, you should go check out her work...after you read her featured post on the blog today! Molly has such a passion for shooting in-home sessions and it definitely shows in her work! For you parents out there, this should be evidence enough that you should consider having an in-home session to capture those everyday moments! Hope you all enjoy Molly's blog! Leave her some love in the comments!
Lifestyle. Documentary. Natural. Candid. Whatever you like to call it, I absolutely can’t get enough of sessions that are completely relaxed and unposed. I find so much more character in the later photos when my clients can ignore the camera during our time together and, even for just a moment, be themselves. I think those end up being their favorite pictures, too! The struggle is, how can we help our clients let down their guard and show their true personalities? One way I’ve found (and I’ve fallen in love with) is doing sessions in their homes.
I’ll start out by saying that I love casual pictures, especially for these types of sessions. Not everyone has to be smiling or looking at the camera – I just want there to be visible emotion, whether it be silliness, love, even a little grumpiness from the youngest children! I want to photograph things that are real, because ‘real’ is what families will want to remember in the years to come. They’ll want to remember how their middle child used to carry his blanket everywhere with him, or how their dad used to flip pancakes so high up when making breakfast. I crave documenting these small moments of real life that are often overlooked.
One of the best ways to help your clients be themselves during their session is to talk with the parents beforehand to find out what activities they love doing as a family. Maybe they enjoy playing board games. Maybe they love doing art projects or playing sports in the backyard. Maybe they like to cook! Whatever they enjoy doing together, that’s what I try to photograph. If people are doing what they love, they are comfortable, leading to the type of pictures you’re striving to get! People like having something to ‘do’, so participating in these simple activities leads to more natural interactions. Another beauty of doing these sessions in their homes, is that there probably isn’t a place they are more comfortable than in house! Being in a familiar place immediately brings a certain ease to sessions.
Let’s say you’re photographing a small family with older children. Depending on their comfort around strangers, it might be tough to get them to relax around you, especially since they know that when you have your camera up, they’re expected to smile….and they feel pressure! I’ve found that by doing these sessions in the place they’re most comfortable, the kids are quicker to warm up to you. It’s not a rush of arranging different poses, with different combinations of family members out in a lovely park! You can take the time to show the child you’re interested in them by asking them to show you their favorite toys or how high they can swing on the swingset, for example. Most kids love having those moments of focused attention, and showing you their special toys or skills tends to create the perfect picture opportunities!
As for the dad, they just love getting to hang out at home for the shoot and not having to get dressed up. Easy! I know men can feel a bit awkward during sessions, so I always like to include dad in the activity – ask him to tickle or chase his kids…show his wife that goofy face of his that always makes her laugh…you get the gist. Look for those moments that he seems his happiest, and keep those going through your time there!
Now for the mom. We have all met the frazzled mom at a regular session before, wishing we could help her! She has most likely been stressed for the past few days, trying to figure out what the kids should wear. At the shoot, she’s stressed about the kids behaving/smiling/clothes getting wrinkled/etc. From what I’ve found, moms tend to love getting pictures of their families, but strongly dislike the process to get there! Here’s the beauty of in-home sessions: moms don’t have to worry about all that (as much ;-) ). If you’re not designing poses, mom doesn’t have to think about the kids sitting still. If you don’t expect everyone to look at the camera and smile for each photo, mom can simply engage with her kids – leading to the kind of smiles you want! If you’re like me and encourage the parents to let the kids wear more casual clothes for this session, mom won’t have to think about making sure everything is coordinated and unwrinkled. She can simply let you do your job while she enjoys time with her family! Helping mothers be less stressed is one of my favorite reasons for these types of sessions.
As you can probably tell from this article, my main goal as a photographer is to capture people as they are. I’ve found that my favorite way to do this is in their own home – and families seem to enjoy the location, too! I hope you’ve gathered a few ideas from this post for your in-home sessions, and good luck!
I am a family and portrait photographer living in Columbia, Tennessee who loves encouraging others and I'm passionate about fudge brownies. Photographing the small moments in life is what I care most about in my work, and I'm so very thankful that I'm ale to do that each day!
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