One of the most asked questions I get when I tell people I’m a documentary family photographer and specialize in in-home photography sessions is “what do people do for the photos if you’re not setting things up and posing them?”, and also, “we don’t do very exciting things in our home, won’t it be better if we plan a bunch of activities or go out?” I want to address both of these questions today and show that real life at home is full of beautiful moments that are photo-worthy, without having to plan anything.
I thought it would be helpful to actually show you and describe what exactly we did during a specific in-home session.
In-Home Maternity and Family Photography Session with the H Family
Meet the H family – a beautifully culturally-blended family with kind hearts who love Jesus so much. I know them from church and have had the honor of documenting their pregnancy with their 2nd child, his birth story, baby N coming home from the hospital, and birthday parties. I love being able to be a part of a family’s celebratory milestones and preserving precious memories like these.
Today I am going to share photos of a Half Day in the Life session (6 hours) that documented their 2nd pregnancy and preserved memories of the last few weeks of their 18-months-old daughter being their only child. This session focused much less on the fact that mom is pregnant, and much more on capturing memories together before the addition of a new baby changed life as they knew it. Six hours is more than I would typically recommend for a session solely focused on documenting pregnancy with no children involved, but because this was a pregnancy + childhood session, six hours was the perfect amount of time to capture lots of fun playtime together through lunch and sweet naptime moments. We planned to begin the session shortly after breakfast and photograph morning playtime through naptime.
We began like I begin every session — I enter as a friend, not a photographer. It is important for me to meet everyone in the home and establish a basic level of trust so everyone can relax and be themself around me. Sometimes this takes 5 minutes, sometimes it takes 30 minutes, but I leave my camera in my bag until I sense that everyone is comfortable with my presence. I began taking photos in their playroom while their daughter was happily occupied with her toys and playing with Mom and Dad. I love that these photos capture her favorite toys and books at this age.
Moving on from the playroom, I followed the ladies upstairs to the nursery where R wanted her mommy to read her some stories. Most often, I suggest to parents to simply follow their child’s lead when it comes to talking about what we will be doing during the session. This sets me up to capture a very accurate story of what a family’s day typically looks like, instead of planned activities that, while very fun, aren’t a true representation of a family’s typical daily life (unless of course mom is an amazing activity-organizer on the daily!).
This grouping of photos moves from wide photos that show where in the home these interactions are taking place, to close-up details of emotions and intimate interactions. Wider photos capture the home environment and rooms of a home, which are so important to have photos of! I hear all the time from families who have moved homes, that they wish they had more photos of the inside of their old home so they could remember it better.
Then Mom got R dressed for the day (keeping these photos private for the family) and Dad came upstairs to read her a story while Mom did her hair.
Once R was dressed and had her hair done, we came downstairs and went outside to enjoy the rare warm autumn day in their backyard. R had lots of fun on the trampoline with her daddy while Mom watched admiringly from the sidelines.
I always encourage families to decide on a screen-free day (at least during our session) so that the photos will be able to capture more connections between family members. This series of playtime images are a great example of why organic play makes such wonderful photos for a family to remember what they did for fun to pass their days.
While my favorite thing to focus on is intimate interactions between family members and the unique personalities of each family member, I also strive to capture at least one photo with every person of the home in it. Grandma makes an appearance now, saying hello to baby N in mom’s belly, while Dad enjoys jumping on the trampoline and R swings with her babydoll.
Then mom brought out some sand and water for R to play with. I want to reiterate that this was not a planned activity just for the photo session – this is something that they set up regularly for R and is an accurate representation of something they would usually be doing on a sunny day in their backyard.
Dad went inside to make some lunch while mom and R relaxed in the lounge chairs and had some sweet mommy-daughter time.
Lunchtime was coming up and we moved inside. R brought a flower for her grandma and there was some playtime in the living room while waiting for lunch to finish cooking.
Now we have moved to the dining room for lunch. R was getting sleepy during lunch and ended up falling asleep on her mommy’s arm. I love photographing through nap-times or bedtimes because sleepy moments are the sweetest!
While I don’t require a family to feed me during a 6 hour session, they kindly shared their delicious Peruvian meal with me between photos.
I concluded our session when Dad carried R to the couch for her naptime and tucked her in, surrounded by her favorite stuffed animals.
What about your family?
If you found this post helpful, I would love to hop on the phone with you and brainstorm about your next family photography session. I love helping families decide what kind of session is the best fit for their current season of life!
You can grab my free guide 7 Locations for Meaningful Family Photos here, and you can schedule a phone call with me or email me when you’ve finished the worksheet and are bursting at the seams with ideas!