How To Prepare Your Kids For Your Lifestyle Family Photography Session

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How To Prepare Your Kids For Your Lifestyle Family Photography Session

Hi friends! Maybe you have a session booked with me this fall, or maybe you have a session with another fellow photographer, but either way, there is a good chance you are wondering how you will prepare your kiddos. You have invested your valuable time and money into this experience and you want it to go perfectly. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your kids for your family photography session. 

 

There can be legit anxiety around having family photos taken and my hope is to ease some of your worries. If you are my client, you get access to a robust welcome site where I give you very specific details on helping your littles have the absolute best experience, however I still want to share this article as I think it will help many who are on the fence about having photos taken and also add to my welcome site materials. 

1. First, read my post about What To Wear To Your Session by clicking HERE. This will help you get the best and most appropriate clothing in order. 

2. Next, trust your photographer. I am a lifestyle family photographer. As I explained to a family I photographed last week, it's like when that unexpected guest comes to your home. Suddenly you notice socks on the couch, milk spilled on the counter, and paint on the wall. But the reality is, the guest probably doesn't even notice those things. You will be sensitive to all the minor misbehaviors that are happening but I see right through that. Lifestyle photography gives you the freedom to relax and let go of perfection. My job isn't to make you look perfect or to make your children behave perfectly and sit straight up on a stiff chair with a stiff smile. No, no. My job is to show you that your children are absolutely perfect just the way they are. I photograph hundreds of families each year and know how to get almost every child to relax and allow me to capture them. You hired me because you love what you see on my portfolio. Allow me to turn your children into art. I promise I will. 

 

3. Tell them what will happen. I am a firm believer in being very upfront with children. The days leading up to the session tell them that a friend is going to be taking your family photos. Tell them that we are going to go to a really fun park or beach and that we are going to play. Tell them that your friend will be asking them to stand and sit in a few different ways. Tell them you expect them to be in the photos. You can tell them that it will be pretty fast. My shoots are usually 45 minutes to an hour and I still get loads of photos. Just look at my blog. ;) 

4. Show them past family photos. When kids know that this experience will result in a series of fun photos of themselves, they may be more excited. Even if you only have iPhone photos to show them, the effect is the same. Most kids LOVE to see photos of themselves. 

 

5. Make sure that they are fed and rested. I know. We just talked and I said we had to shoot at 7 pm to get the best light. But this can be remedied by putting them down for a late nap that day or if they don't' nap, clearing your schedule on photo day to allow them to rest before the shoot. Don't go on a hike and then to a soccer game on the same day as your photo shoot. Make your photos session the main event. Feed them dinner or a big snack before the session so they aren't hangry. Hungry kids are never easy to work with. 

6. Offer a little reward for tolerating the session. Notice how I didn't say bribe. I actually see that back fire a bit when parents say "remember that ice cream cone?" In a super frustrated voice. And trust me. I have been there many times as a mom. Instead before the shoot say "as a family we are going to go out for burgers and shakes after the session is over." Or whatever sounds good. Just make the whole experience one of bonding and fun. 

 

7. I will never make your child smile. If they smile, it will be because they are actually happy. I am okay with honest, pensive portraits of children. I also will never make your child leave your arms if they don't feel comfortable.  I will capture them exploring and being them and then sneak in some portraits along the way. 

8. Show them a picture of me. Head to my About page and show them a photo of me so I am not a strange face to them. This will make me seem more human and relatable. You can even go to my personal Instagram feed and show them photos of my kids and family. Then, they know I am just like you all. :) 

I promise you, 99.9% of my sessions are fun and relaxed. My style is laid back. I have had numerous families tell me the kids actually said they had fun after my session and I think that is probably why they come back year after year. Because we actually have fun! 

Photographers, feel free to share this article if you think it might help your families out this year. 

I can't wait for all the sessions I have coming up in the next few months! I hope you are excited too. 

XoXo, 

Elena

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How Do You Do It All?

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How Do You Do It All?

Hi friends! I know this blog is viewed by my beloved families who I photograph every year, but I think it gets equal attention from my fellow Photographer Sisters and also my fellow Mama Sisters. Actually, what I am finding is that a lot of my Mama Sisters are getting curious. Maybe they are wondering how I built a business while raising a family. Read on... ;) 

I literally get asked every day "how do you do it all?" or When a well intentioned fellow Mama Sister knows I have a thriving business she says "how in the world do you run a business while still being so involved with your children?"  Usually with a look of sympathy on her face. Or from my fellow Photographer Sisters "how do you manage your business and family life?" With a look of exhaustion. I get asked this all the time. So I have really started to think about it. And like most of us, I sat with this question and told myself a little story in my head (thank you Brene Brown for that mental exercise) "Am I being a bad mom and that's why everyone always asks me this? Why am I able to manage my time well? Maybe I should be giving all of myself to my kids" 

Well...After much thought I came to this... I would say there are two things that I feel the most passionate about in life and those two things are my family and my business. Now you may be wondering why I didn't say photography...and why I said my business. Maybe you aren't. But I think that distinction is important. 

Okay, let me back up a bit. I think that life comes in what would seem a lot like seasons or at least that is how it has been for me. I can divide up chunks of my life and distinctly pull out the difficulties and the joys of each of those seasons. I can get into individual seasons in another post or at another time but this time I want to talk about the season I am in. In the past three months or so I noticed something. An agitation really. I felt like I was short tempered and agitated more often than not. By the way, I haven't really even shared this fully with my husband. Hi honey. :) Well, I decided to look inward. To really dig in and see what the hell was the matter. I realized that a few things were missing. One. Exercise. I have been spending so much time these past six years having babies and growing my business that I wasn't prioritizing exercise. Two. Spirituality. Now I feel I must be clear. I am not religious. I was raised catholic, however don't think that spirituality needs to be based in God (not looking for a debate here.) I think of spirituality as an inner connection with yourself and a connection with something outside yourself, whatever that may be. I also think it stems from a deep connection with your loved ones. Three. Writing. I have always journaled. Always. Up until I had my second child I blogged or journaled. But while growing my business, and again, having babies I let that practice go. I think it is because photography has become an outlet much like writing for me, but I am realizing that I miss writing. Four. Reading. I love reading. But I have a hard time making the time for it. So in the last few months I have made these things a priority again. And to multi task I have been really getting into Audio books. I listen to them while I run. I have been making time to meditate, a new practice for me but I can't believe the things I am noticing about myself. I have always done yoga but meditation is a whole new spiritual practice.  I have also been journaling again. 

So that long winded explanation of the past few months lead me to the answer. Why do I say my business is my passion and not photography. After much self reflection I am realizing that this business means so much to me. When I was knee deep in baby, I had this urge to create, and that lead to photography. But I also had an urge to create something else. Something bigger than myself. I wasn't sure exactly what that was.  And I already had a career so this made no sense to many around me and it really didn't even make sense to myself. Why would I go out and seek out a career as an artist when I had such a solid job as a nurse? Why not just continue to photograph my children as an outlet? Because I know many women who do that and they are some of the best artists I know. But being a women of intuition I kept leaning into that feeling. The feeling that I wanted something different. I felt a drive, a fire in my body, that kept me going. I just knew. Six years later I have left my career as a nurse behind me, created a business I am so proud of and have expanded my business to include photographer education. What I am learning is that I am an entrepreneur and what I am discovering is that I am a special type of entrepreneur, a creative entrepreneur and it is AMAZING! I feel like I just want to create, create, create, and grow, grow, grow. It is like an addiction to my own life, as crazy as that sounds. 

My business is everything to me. I think something that is very unique to creative entrepreneurs is that our business is a true infusion of who we are and what we do. My photography is an artistic outlet based on human connection and authentic moments. I have literally built a business based on me and connecting with me. It's funny, because while I know I am no longer helping people in the same way I did as a nurse, I still feel like I am connecting to humans in the same way. I have had many clients tell me that their photography session felt therapeutic. Strange I know, but true. I feel drained in a similar way after a shoot as I did after a nurse shift.  But I like it so much more. I own it so much more. I want to work all the time. I want to build my brand all the time. I want to create all the time. All. The. Time. And that is incredible. I didn't know this kind of work satisfaction existed. It took me a long time to realize that nursing probably was never my passion. It was a job that fit my desire to connect with and help people, it fit my passion for birth and life, but it never made me as excited as my photography business does. And that is okay. The time I spent in college and the time I spent as a nurse were part of my journey, part of the path of life that lead me here. 

So... I love my job. And just because I love my job doesn't mean I love my kids or family any less. 

So often as mothers we feel heavy guilt. So heavy, like we can feel it holding us back, gripping our shoulders and saying "no, you can't be you." Guilt about working out, guilt about working, guilt about being anything but a mother. Guilt about being a bad mother. Guilt about everything you can think of. And I notice this with all the mothers in my life. Those who stay at home and don't work outside of motherhood at all and those who work 40 plus hours outside of the house. We all feel it. But we don't have to. We can be excellent mothers and still have interests and passions. We can still be creative and sexy, fit and fashionable. We can enjoy alone time and time with our husbands and friends, and still enjoy our children. We don't have to be one thing. We can be whoever we want to be.  I read a book in a women's studies class in college, The Awakening by Kate Chopin and I remember feeling the heaviness of this quote then, before I had even had children. I remember it made me feel uncomfortable, but I remember it so well. It was powerful. It is like it was a little message from the future saying, "hey young lady, remember this one, you will need it later." I want to share it with you here.

" I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn't give myself. I can't make it more clear ; it's only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me."

Kate Chopin, The Awakening 

I can love myself and still love my children. I can be a kick ass mother and a kick ass entrepreneur too.

These past few months and deep introspection have introduced a new passion to me. Like many times in my life, a little inner turmoil or agitation usually means something new is brewing inside me. I want to help other women realize their full potential. To realize that if they want to quit their day job and pursue a dream, they can. And if they want to be a full time stay at home mother, I want them to know that they can find joy and fulfillment there as well. I want to help women realize that each of us has something to give, to share, and that we can do that. I want to help other mothers leave guilt behind them and embrace the fire inside them. To listen to that voice inside. Weather that voice says "start a business" or "leave this shitty day job" or even "be a better mom." You should listen. 

So when I get asked about work life balance the answer is simple, even though it has taken me a long time to realize it. There isn't balance. It's all mixed up in one hot pot. When I worked as a nurse there was much more balance. I left for work and worked, came home and was mom. But now, it's all mashed up. But I am SO MUCH more fulfilled. I get asked EVERY day "how do you do it all?" I don't. I do what I chose to do. I don't have more than 24 hours in my day. I choose to spend time on my business. I LOVE it. I chose to show up and try to  be a good mom EVERY DAY. And I am not always a good mom. But I try. Now that the babies are growing up I am making a conscious effort to be a better wife, because lets be real, when they are babies being a good partner is freakin hard. But as recently as the past few weeks we have started making a conscious effort to work on US again. And when I wasn't making exercise, reading, or journaling a priority, I didn't do it. But as with everything I realized, all it takes is making time to do it. Simple as that. 

So I don't do it all. Just because I have a business and am a hands on mom doesn't mean I do it all, it just means that I have made a choice to do those things. And my short journey on meditation is showing me that we are 100% in control of our attitude. 

So why the long winded post? I don't know. But I am feeling called, as silly as that sounds, to help other mothers who want to find purpose and intention in their lives and business. Because for whatever reason, society wants to put us in a box. It want's to categorize us. Mother or working mother? Career woman or stay at home mom? Creative woman or practical woman? These past few years as a photographer, creative entrepreneur, and mother have taught me a lot. My values are still the same. I am passionate about positive parenting and mothering and I am passionate about helping others and connecting, I am passionate about photography and art, and I am going to find a way to blend that all together. I want to help every woman "do it all." Because doing it all doesn't mean you are doing it all, it means you are doing all that is important to you. 

So again,  I don't do it all, folks. But you better believe what I do comes from a place of deep rooted passion! So stay tuned...my brain is working on something for my Sisters out there. I am not exactly sure what it looks like yet, but the wheels are turning. And fast. 

 

XoXo,

Elena <3

 

***Photo in header by Rebecca Hunnicutt Photography

  

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Wilson | Photography Retreat

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Wilson | Photography Retreat

When Bre Thurston and I decided to host exclusive photography retreats we had no idea the fulfillment that it would bring to us. It all started with a text message that would change our lives. I said, "we should come up with  a learning experience that is not only a way to become a better photographer but is also a way to relax and rejuvenate." Bre immediately agreed with me and together we brainstormed and came up with what is now Blair and Thurston. Within 24 hours time we had a website and a plan and our dreams begin to take shape. You could say that we are highly motivated but I like to think that we are highly passionate. When we want something we work hard and we make it a reality and we really wanted this to be a beautiful reality.

Nearly a year later we have hosted two wildly successful retreats where we laughed, cried,  and saw so much growth in our attendees, but what's more is the growth that we have seen in each other. We have always been good friends but now our relationship is even more. I can't really put my finger on it,  at the risk of sounding cheesy I will say that Bre is one of my soulmates. It's like this was our calling and we can't wait to see where our Retreats take us. Our Retreats are like no other photography retreats in the industry. They are intimate, luxurious, and from the words of some of our attendees,  they are like changing. Unlike so many other photography education programs out there, Bre and I aren't trying to make our attendees be like us we're trying to make them the best them!

Our next photography retreat is an Austin Texas we are so excited!

These photos are from the family session that took place during our Last Retreat on Bainbridge Island. The Wilsons are good friends of mine and they were the absolute best family we could have asked for.

 

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What To Wear To Your Family Photography Session | Seattle Family Photographer

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What To Wear To Your Family Photography Session | Seattle Family Photographer

It is family photography season and I am so excited to see so many of my returning families and many, many new families as well! Weather you have a family session scheduled with me or another photographer, chances are you have questions on how to prepare. I get asked about wardrobe by 100% of my families and I am happy to give a little guidance. I thought I would start a series of blog posts here as a reference for my families and other people looking for ideas on planning their wardrobe and preparing for their family session. Today, we will focus on wardrobe. 

 

If you have invested in custom, lifestyle photography, you are likely excited about planning for your session. The reason I call it an investment is because it is. It is an investment in your money and your most valuable currency, your time and you want to make sure that everything goes great! One of the most fun parts of preparing for your session is planning what you will wear. This is the time to really express who you are! I know some of you stress about getting your outfits together, but trust me, you don't have to. While I don't style my families, I do help them along the way if they ask. Here are some basic tips in preparing your outfits. 

 

1. Most important tip. Be yourself!! Lifestyle photography, especially from an artist like myself, is meant to be authentic. If you don't usually wear dressy clothing, don't. If your daughter hates dresses, don't put her in a dress. If your son can't stand wearing button down shirts, don't put him in one. If you are a sporty family, dress sporty. You can find clothing that fits your style that is clean, nice, and comfortable. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't dress your best, but it does mean that you can dress your best in your own style. 

 

 

2. Coordinate, don't match. There are rare occasions where everyone in the same color works, however generally you want diversity in colors and patterns. To be frank, it is cheesy and out of style for everyone to be wearing jeans and white polos. When thinking about colors, choose colors that compliment each other. 

 

3. Stay away from graphics and florescent colors. Please, don't let your kids wear those athletic shirts that are bright neon orange or yellow. What that means is that your kids face will be bright neon orange or yellow. Graphics tend to go out of style so I suggest staying away from them. 

 

4. Make sure the clothing you choose fits. I get it. Kids grow fast and you want to get the most out of each clothing item. But this isn't the time. It doesn't look good when kiddos clothing is baggy or rolled up to fit. 

 

5. Mom, this is your time to shine! I love when moms are in dresses (if they like dresses) or an outfit they feel great in! Mom, go out and buy your outfit or choose your outfit out of your closet first. Choose something you feel amazing in and build the families outfits around yours. 

 

6. Dress in layers. Layers add interest but also allow for removing clothing if it gets warm. Think scarfs, hats, vests, cardigans, tights, blazers, jackets....

 

7. Don't forget shoes and accessories are important too. A great outfit with ratty shoes won't look as good. Think about how the shoes will match as well as necklaces and headbands etc. These items can add a pop of color too!

 

8. Make a Pinterest board or inspiration board with outfit ideas. It will help you get a feel for colors and patterns you love as well as trends you like. 

 

9. Ask your photographer for help! Don't be shy. We are more than happy to help you along the way. Promise!

Have fun with this!! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments. :) 

 

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Kaitlyn | Seattle Maternity Photographer

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Kaitlyn | Seattle Maternity Photographer

I just wrapped up this families newborn session and I was going to blog them all together but this maternity photography session deserves it's own post, I think. 

We met at sunset on a gorgeous Seattle summer evening. I adore meeting couples right before they are about to welcome their baby into the world. There is so much excitement and love in the air. These two are absolutely gorgeous and I will say that they are even more beautiful now that they are parents. 

Enjoy! I will blog their newborn session soon. :)

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Juliet | Seattle Fresh 48 Photographer

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Juliet | Seattle Fresh 48 Photographer

As many of you know, I spent the better part of the past ten years as a registered nurse in the NICU and L&D. I left that part of my life behind about a year ago to pursue phtography full time. It was like a calling and I had to follow it, however sometimes I miss being in the hospital surrounded by all the hustle and bustle and of course, I miss the fresh newborns. Well, I am delighted to have had a few of my first fresh 48 newborn photography sessions, or as I prefer to call them, birth space newborn sessions. There is magic in the air in those first few hours with a new baby. The joy, the promise, the excitement. It is intoxicating. 

I spent a few hours visiting with one of my long time favorite families a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be there while the older kids stumbled in on their new baby sister and it was so beautiful. I have since photographed them in their home for their full session but have yet to edit that one. For now, enjoy sweet Juliet and her family, just about 24 hours old. 

I will be offering fresh 48 sessions to my newborn clients only as an add on. Stay tuned for more details on that endeavor. I am very excited about it. 

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Divelbliss | Seattle Family Photographer

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Divelbliss | Seattle Family Photographer

I was lucky enough to meet this family a year ago when I did their newborn photography session. I immediately fell in love with them. They are sweet and so grateful for this little guy. I was thrilled when they asked me to photograph them again to celebrate their little guy's first birthday. It means so much to me when families trust me to capture them. I know how busy everyone is and for them to give me a morning or an evening, a sacred amount of their time, makes me so grateful. 

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Syrina | Seattle Maternity Photographer

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Syrina | Seattle Maternity Photographer

I love to give back to my community. I donate a number of sessions each year and often do giveaways to celebrate the support I receive. I was super happy to reach 2K followers on Instagram. Now I know that is small potatoes for some photographers, but I celebrate all milestones around here. ;) I put a call out and was thrilled when Syrina and her family won a session. Bonus is that she was pregnant with their third baby and wanted to have that time captured. 

We met on a summer evening that was sunny but chilly as Seattle summer evenings can be. Her kiddos were just getting over a cold so they were a bit more snuggly than usual but I was happy to capture that. I think it is so special to capture a family just before it is about to change. I also think it is very important to make mothers feel absolutely beautiful when their bodies are doing such great work, growing humans, selflessly giving up every fiber of their being. This little family was so much fun to be around and I really enjoyed capturing them. Enjoy! 

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Bartsch | Seattle Family Photographer

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Bartsch | Seattle Family Photographer

This family. They mean so much to me. We met nearly 16 years ago when we all attended Seattle University. Brenda and I were in nursing school and Jonny was in Ultrasound school. It seems like yesterday we were cramming for an Anatomy & Physiology test. Little did we know what was in store for us. 

Brenda and Jonny just built their dream home. It was an absolute pleasure to capture them there. What makes this more special is that they built this house on the property that Brenda grew up on right on the Puget Sound. We took a few shots inside and then played on their gorgeous grounds. Family photography allows me to capture so much more than a portrait but rather to freeze moments in time to last a life time. I am so excited to share this session with you all. Enjoy! 

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