There are three things to consider when determining the best time of day for family photos for your crew. I have been photographing families for over a decade now, and taking these three things into consideration can help you decide not only the timing of your session, but also the location and time of year that is best for your family. Keep in mind that these are just guidelines and suggestions, but ultimately you know your family best! Let’s dive in!
If you have a specific location you would like to use, take note of the lighting there throughout the day. If you are hoping to take photos at home, watch the light for a few days to see when your home is brightest. Is there harsh sunlight coming in? Which rooms are best lit during the morning? If you want to focus your time in your living room, what time of day is that room well lit?
Similarly, if you are hoping for the beach, there is typically little shade so you will want to shoot at the times where the sun is least harsh: golden hour and sunrise. Golden hour is always hailed as being the best time of day for outdoor photography, and when shade is sparse that is certainly true, but certain locations get dark quickly in the evening and earlier in the evening might be better.
The majority of my families have little ones that are still napping, and we all know toddlers can be awful when it comes to skipping or cutting naps short. Every family has their own schedule, and some families are less flexible than others with bed times. Each parent has different opinions on this, and I totally understand that many people’s sanity is reliant on a schedule. If that is the case for you and your family, what time of day is best for everyones mood and engagement? If your toddler is happiest first thing in the morning, maybe we choose a morning in-home session. Or maybe your kids love the option to stay up late and play at the beach, then maybe a summer golden hour session will work for you.
Have your heart set on a fall outdoor session? Keep in mind that here in Ontario fall is generally damp and cloudy, so even though sunset is not until 6-7pm, it is often too dark to shoot at the typical golden hour times. In the summer we are looking at harsh sun from 9am-5pm, which means a mid day session might be best indoors. Taking the season and weather into consideration is an important step in determining the best time of day for family photos.
Like I said off the hop: you know your family best! The best session is one that is low stress and high energy, so choose the best time of day for your family, and choose one that will allow you to be present in the moment with them. Still curious when you should book? Reach out today and we can discuss!
We are so fortunate where we live to have some beautiful spots so close by that are the perfect backdrops for family sessions. With two lakes surrounding us and endless kilometers of farm and woodland between, there are so many possibilities! Each location brings a different look and opens up new opportunities for activities. I have made a list of my tried-and-true locations for outdoor family sessions
Erieau has so many great things to offer: beaches, pathways, the pier and cottages. Not to mention the fish and chips or the woodfire pizzas and craft beer to grab after your session! It is the perfect spot for families to play, and for couples to get cozy.
This one is a bit of a hidden gem in the Wallaceburg area. Many people tell me they have driven by this spot for years and never stopped. It used to be a memorial forest owned by Nichol’s Funeral Home, but it is now owned and maintained by St. Clair Township. The beautiful trail leads back to some pretty rolling hills (as rolling as we can get in Southwestern Ontario!). This location is great during the fall and winter, but can get wet and very buggy if it’s hot and humid weather. The sunsets at this location are also the best!
Wilkesport Gardens are an absolutely beautiful and relatively new addition to our area. This is a privately funded park that offers a wide variety for any type of session, but it is a favourite of mine for extended family sessions because there is a large amount of space and activities. I will say that because the trees are young, it is best suited for evening sessions because the shade and light filtration is limited during mid day. However, it is a great central location for Chatham-Kent Sarnia Family Photography Session.
Everyone local knows Brander Park. It has a reputation as being the photographer go-to spot, and for good reason. The pond is beautiful and the willows create and awesome backdrop. Don’t mess with a good thing!
This park has some amazing options in it, with the pond and the wooden bridge, multiple outbuildings, and some beautiful wildflowers it makes for a great spot to explore with a large family or small children. I often use this spot for extended families since there is so much space to work with!
Canatara is a gem because it offers so much variety! Located right in Sarnia and on Lake Huron, you get the best of both worlds with green trails, and beachy vibes. This is a beautiful option year round, but also offers some gorgeous colours in the fall, and wicked sunsets in the summer.
So many of us locals live in the rural areas of Chatham-Kent/Lambton, and it is always a pleasure to work with families on their own properties (or their friends/relatives). Having a connection to the location brings another level of personality to your images, and it is always fun to incorporate family heirlooms into sessions. Sessions at your own home or farm allow for a backdrop unlike any one else’s, and you know I love a cozy in-home session
Studio Sisters is a lovely little studio downtown Chatham that offers a warm dry place in the winter months! They always have it decorated beautifully and the neutrals are always the perfect backdrop for any kind of session, be it family or branding!
There are some really wonderful spots downtown that are hiding in plain sight. Downtown sessions are great for a more urban feel – and are usually close to craft beer (just sayin!). Urban session are a fun way to play with light and lines, and they also offer so many options for things to do. We can even grab a pint at Sons of Kent, Refined Fool or Glasstown Brewery before, during or after your session!
I’ve shot a wedding here, but it would be really fun to explore with a family! It is so bright and fun, and they are so helpful there. Perfect for a rainy afternoon.
I am always up for exploring a new location with you! If you’ve got something in mind, let me know and we can make it happen for your next Chatham-Kent Sarnia family photography session!
Booking a photographer for your wedding can be an overwhelming task. There may be a ton of photographers in your area, and the internet can be a scary place – it’s hard to know where to begin! I recently saw a story of a couple who booked a “reputable” photographer online and their wedding gallery was returned with out of focus and incorrectly exposed images. Their photographer completely ghosted them after the wedding, and they came to find out his website was full of stolen images. Stories like this break my heart for that poor couple, because ultimately you cannot get that day back. Today I am sharing a few tips on how to find a reputable wedding photographer that you can trust to document your day.
It is not just enough to visit the website of a potential photographer. Websites can be designed so easily with fake content (similar to what I described earlier), so be sure the photographers website has an updated portfolio. Even better would be to view recent blog posts. many photographers who are actively building their business will be posting regularly on a blog to boost traffic to their website. Finally, most websites these days can link to a social media account. Do they have an Instagram that they are actively posting on? Are the images different than their website? Do they share on stories? If all of those answers are no, that could be a red flag.
Keep in mind that every wedding gallery is going to be different, but requesting to see a full wedding gallery from a photographer is a great way to see what to expect. You cannot trust a website or social media alone – those are are just highlight reels, remember! I openly share wedding galleries with inquiring couples so they can get an idea of what to expect from me.
Google and Facebook reviews are a great place to check out a potential wedding photographer. If clients are taking the time to write a review after their wedding or session, that must mean they had an experience worth talking about – whether it be positive or negative. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t buy an item of clothing online without reading the reviews let alone spend thousands on a service. Being sure there are reviews on their Google page within the past year is a good indication they are in business.
The last and MOST IMPORTANT tip is to talk to your friends. Ask around for recommendations, ask your friends to see their wedding galleries. Have them share their experiences with you. The number one way I receive referrals is by word of mouth from clients and their families. Talking to couples who have been recently married in your area can help you determine if a photographer is going to be the right fit for you!
What do you think? Do you feel more comfortable knowing how to find a reputable wedding photographer? Do you have any other tips for couples? I would love to hear from you.
For those of you looking for information on this gorgeous venue, the Chatham Armoury is a beautiful spot in Chatham for a larger wedding. Four Diamond Events is amazing to work with! Or if you are planning a more rustic event, check out my recent post about Camp Weddings!
I often get asked whether I will be offering Mini Sessions anytime soon, and while I do enjoy offering them once in a while, they are not for everyone. Today I am sharing some pros and cons of mini sessions so you can decide whether they might be a good fit for your family
Time is valuable, no matter who you are, and I can certainly appreciate that. An evening long lifestyle session might not be in the cards for your family or this season of life, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t update your family photos. Mini sessions allow you to get those updated images of your family without requiring a big time commitment.
Some kids are shy or play strange when they meet a new person, and warming up to a new adult can be hard. If your toddler or pre schooler is shy, a longer session may allow us more time to get to know each other. A 20 minute session may not allow me a lot of time to get those genuine smiles and laughs that photograph so beautifully. Mini sessions are typically stacked back to back, which also does not offer a lot of flexibility with timing.
Typically mini sessions are priced accordingly. When mini sessions are stacked throughout a day, there is limited travel required, and of course the shooting time is also shorter. This, as well as the decreased amount of photos being edited and delivered allows for the price to be cheaper.
Shorter sessions mean smaller galleries. Of course if you are just looking for a few new updated photos for your holiday card, this may not be a bad thing, but my full session galleries are typically 100-200 images, whereas a mini session would give you 20-30 images. Not only do you get less images in your gallery, but you also get less variety. My family sessions are a mix of posed and lifestyle, but working with a limited amount of time means there may not be enough time for details or candid moments.
Mini sessions are typically pre-planned at a specific location and time that you can choose from easily. This takes any stress out of deciding a location or activity for your session. All you need to do is show up!
Choosing to do a full lifestyle session gives you a more personalized experience and images that reflect your family. In a mini session there is not enough time to incorporate the interests of your family, and the gallery may not reflect your personality as well. In a full session we have more flexibility, we can explore your home or another location, play games and relax a bit more which provides a personal touch to your gallery.
After hearing about some of the pros and cons of mini sessions, what do you think would work best for your family? Remember, what works for you now may be different another year and choosing what is best for your family right now is what is most important!
If mini sessions are for you, I always invite my email list first – you can join my email list here to be the first to know!
Thinking a full session might be more your style? Reach out today to reserve your session!
Coming from a blended family myself, I can appreciate that photographing blended families may be stressful or intimidating. Having a few tactics to help you navigate family dynamics and ensure everyone has fun is important for creating lasting client relationships.
No matter the family, I always start with a more posed group shot. Especially when you are dealing with younger kids (or teens!), getting that shot off the hop saves you from a potential melt down getting your way later on.
Family dynamics are tough. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings around the experience, and getting family photos might not be their first activity of choice. Respecting their feelings and boundaries is important for creating trust and connection. Ultimately if someone doesn’t want to be there smiling you aren’t going to change their mind, but by showing respect for their feelings you might make an otherwise uncomfortable situation an enjoyable memory.
Grouping kids is often requested (usually for the sake of sharing images with grandparents) but it can also make kids feel excluded. Spending time chatting with each child individually makes them feel special and builds a rapport that can extend through the whole session. It can also provide you with talking points and bonding opportunities later on in the session.
Having an intake questionnaire or email conversation before any session is important for you to gather information about the family structure and any potential roadblocks. Prior to photographing a blended family you may want to know what sorts of groupings they want, if anyone is hesitant to be there, or what the kids are interested in. The more you know, the more you can prepare yourself and show compassion.
A blended family session is a family session. The most important part of my family session experience is creating a fun memory for the entire family. I treat every family with equal respect and kindness, in the hopes of creating a relaxing and enjoyable encounter that will leave them feeling good. I bring compassion and understanding to all of my sessions so we can create a comfortable environment to have fun in!
Photographing blended family sessions is always special to me, being from one myself. Bringing two families together is tough for a lot of reasons, but is can also be amazing. If you’d like to book a family session with me, get in touch today!
So you have welcomed a new baby home, and now you’re wondering how to prepare for your in home session. Here are my favourite pieces of advise:
Usually within the first few weeks after having a baby, looking stylish is the last thing you are worried about. Comfort should be your number one priority. Choose something that fits well – not something you have to squeeze into – and you can lounge in. A lot of what we do in a newborns session is snuggle, so you don’t want to be restricted. Neutral colours and denim will never go out of style, and something that complements the decor in your home is an added bonus!
Decluttering helps the focus of your images stay on you. Generally the nursery is a clean space we can use because it isn’t used much in those first few weeks. If the light is best in your master bedroom or living room then I suggest clearing off your nightstands or coffee table. Most people don’t notice little things like that, but if your favourite water bottle that always sits at your bedside is bright pink it might be a bit of a distraction! Don’t worry too much though, I am always moving little objects out of the way for the shot and I do not judge!
At almost every single newborn session the baby needs to be fed – even if you have just done so! I suggest feeding them right before I arrive, but mentally preparing yourself to do it again is helpful. Babies just want to eat and snuggle. If baby is hungry we take a break and I get to chat with Dad for a few minutes or give your fur baby some loving!
Sometimes this is the first time in a few days that you get to just chill with the little one and talk to another mom. You are doing great and that baby is so loved! Take a deep breath and soak up their perfection because that look on your face is the best photograph. Breathe in that little blessing!
Interested in an in-home newborn session or looking for a Sarnia newborn photographer? Get in touch today! I would love to hear from you and get started on planning your relaxing and loving newborn session!