Rebecca Clair Photography

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Posts tagged Kansas City lifestyle family photography
Time Together; The Bowers Extended Family Session Around a Campfire (Plus Some Tips for Organizing a Fun Extended Family Session) {Kansas City Family Photographer}
 Kansas City lifestyle photographer, Kansas City family photographer, extended family session, fall family photos around a fire, roating marshmallows over the fire

I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long to share this session on here, because it may be my favorite extended family session ever!

Extended family sessions are such a sweet way to gather everyone together in one place, to celebrate the generations that have shaped who we are and to draw close to the people who define family for us. But it’s often no small task to get everyone all together in one place and once you finally do, it can be tempting to default to a stiff everyone-looking-at-the-camera pose as you hope that no one blinks! So when Angela approached me with the idea of gathering her family around a campfire with s’mores for their session, I answered with a resounding, “YES!” because that sounded exactly like the kind of relaxed environment that can bring out those sweet, candid family moments.

And you guys, it was every bit as fun as it sounds! We gathered at the edge of the woods on one of those crisp November afternoons when the gray skies draw out all the richness of autumn’s yellows and browns. We walked together down a wooded path carpeted with leaves and I took some time to photograph each couple, as well as Angela and her dad and the two brothers with their father. And then everyone gathered around a fire to toast marshmallows, wrap their hands around mugs of coffee and hot cocoa, and laugh together. Having something fun to do together really helped everyone relax and have fun, even as they created photos they could treasure for years to come. And Angela did such a great job of coordinating everything and preparing a spread of tasty treats! 

I felt especially privileged to photograph Angela’s grandparents because they had never had professional photos taken together. As we walked in the woods, they shared that they’d met at a dance (many years ago, back when dances were more common!) and they happily obliged when I asked if they’d mind dancing a little as I snapped some pictures.

Have you considered setting up an extended family session but feel intimidated by the process of coordinating everyone? Here are some tips for creating an extended family session that is fun for everyone and captures the heart of your unique family:

1) Choose a location that feels meaningful to your family. Maybe it’s the house where your grandparents have lived for more than fifty years or the farm that has been in the family for generations. Maybe it’s a vacation place you visit every year that echoes with memories from your childhood. Or maybe it’s as simple as a favorite park where you like to picnic. But picking a familiar place that you love can go a long way in helping everyone relax and enjoy the moment together.

2) Bring treats to eat or drink. Seriously! I can’t recommend this enough! It helps kids relax and smile, but sometimes it helps adults have fun, too! You can choose something meaningful, like your grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookies or just pick something fun like popsicles or cotton candy.

3) Don’t worry about matching outfits. It can be stressful to think about coordinating outfits for 10-20 people (though did you know that I send my clients a little “What to Wear” guide to help take some of the stress out of that?) and it may be tempting to default to having everyone wear the same thing, but your photos will be so much more interesting (and authentic!) if you let everyone’s personality shine forth a little. Try choosing three or four coordinating colors and then let people personalize things with their accessories.

4) Do something fun together. A fire and s’mores are a great idea, but there are so many other options, too! Think about what your family loves to do together. Maybe you love to take long walks together or always bring out the same board game at family gatherings. Maybe your family gets fiercely competitive at badminton or has a unique family cheer. Maybe you love to pull out old family stories and listen to the family elders share stories from their younger years. Whatever it is that you love to do together, whatever reminds you that you are part of a larger family, find a way to incorporate that into your session!

5) Print those photos! In this digital age, it’s so easy to let photos sit forgotten on hard drives, but it is so valuable to hang these photos on your wall or print them in albums so you can enjoy them together now and treasure them even more later when those people are gone. Incorporating these photos into your home and daily lives serves as a reminder of who you are and the things that deeply matter in your life.

Are you dreaming of your own extended family session? Send me a message and we can chat about ways to authentically capture your family in this season!

Rainy Day Snuggles: The Ashley Family’s Cozy In-Home Session {Kansas City Family Photography}
 Kansas City Family photographer, in-home lifestyle family photography family reading together Rebecca Clair Photography

Even a gloomy, rainy day couldn't dampen the sweetness of this family's in-home session. These moments are simple, cuddled up by the window, reading a few favorite books, but they're the kind they will treasure in the years to come, as their daughter grows and changes. 

Great Expectations: A Tale of Two Donuts (and a Few Tips for Happier Toddler Sessions) {Kansas City Family Photography}
 Kansas City family photographer toddler eating a donut Cider Hill Family Orchard

Let me tell you a little story about expectations vs. reality with a toddler.

Last week, on one of those gloomy, rainy days we’ve had lately, I ran out to the grocery store with Ethan to grab one quick thing that I had forgotten during our normal grocery trip (because now that we have a second car, we can do that!) While we were there, I decided to pick up a donut for us to share, a special rainy day treat.

Here’s how I imagined we would enjoy it:

We would come home from our errand, snuggle up together while the rain fell softly against the window, and share a sweet blueberry donut treat together.

Here’s how it actually went down:

Ethan cried and yelled “Dono! Dono! Donooo!” the entire car ride home. He ate his portion of the donut at the table in about 30 seconds. And then proceeded to cry, “Dono! Dono!” again, until naptime.  Not exactly the sweet moment together that I’d imagined!

Why do I share this with you? Because I get it. I get the frustration of planning something fun, only to have your toddler melt down. And I get the disappointment of booking a photo session and having your toddler frown and refuse to sit down or look at the camera. Toddlers are hard to predict and often have strong opinions of what they do or don’t want to do. It can make picture day a little stressful for you and them.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few tips for setting up a session that’s fun for your toddler (and therefore fun for you, too!)

1) Loosen your expectations. I know Pinterest is full of cute poses and ideas and we can try a few of them, but don’t push too hard if your toddler isn’t into it! I find that we get happier, more genuine photos when we follow your toddlers lead. If they just want to cuddle in your lap, go with it! These moments won’t last forever and you’ll be glad you captured them. If they don’t want to let go of their favorite toy, let them keep it. You’ll look back at these photos and remember the season when they were inseparable from it. Do they just want to run around with sticks? Jump into the game and chase them! We can totally capture that, too!

2) Bring a favorite toy or book. Does your child have a favorite stuffed animal or car? Do they ask you to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear every single night? Bring those along! They can help your child feel more comfortable in a new place, with a stranger, and we can catch some photos that capture these beloved pieces of their childhood.

3) Bring a snack or treat. I’m not necessarily advocating for bribing your child (but maybe just a little?), but it’s no secret that a fun treat can often quickly turn around a toddler’s mood! My only suggestion is to bring something that you don’t mind being in the photos since I won’t be photoshopping those out (you may find that cookies are cuter than cereal bars and fresh fruit is cuter than an applesauce pouch!) and don’t bring something messy unless you’re willing to embrace the mess of the moment!

4) Play together. I know that sometimes you want just one good picture where you’re looking at the camera and smiling (the kind that the grandparents will hang on their fridge) and I always try to get at least one of those. But most of the session I want to focus on you enjoying being together. Snuggle your child. Tickle them. Toss them in the air. Spin them around. Explore with them. As you focus on spending quality time with them and having fun together, I’ll focus on catching the sweetest, authentic photos, too.

Despite my rainy day treat backfiring, we had a little bit of donut redemption at Cider Hill Family Orchard’s Apple Blossom Festival this weekend. After we took a wagon ride through the orchard, we sat together on a bench, a warm bag of donuts crinkling in our hands and cinnamon sugar coating our fingers, watching a fire and munching on the BEST apple cider donuts (and then we wandered around the orchard, fed ducks, splashed sticks in the pond, and swung on a swing!). It wasn’t the same rainy day snuggles that I’d imagined last week, but it was a sweet family moment I’ll cherish.