3 creative ideas for kids photo shoots this spring

As we’ve started to see the sunshine a little bit for the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about how to inject a bit of fun and a bit of style for a different sort of kids portrait.  I love natural kids portraits, particularly when they are busy as play and don’t even notice they’re being captured – it’s great and makes for timeless images that parents and grandparents always love.

But what if you’ve done a shoot like that recently? Maybe you had it done professionally or maybe you’ve mastered taking these photos yourself – what then?  What could you do that would be a bit different, would be fun for the kids and get that all important gift for Granny or update for the family album?  Maybe the natural look just isn’t for you and you’re after something more stylised, something indoors or just something that reflects your quirky personality.

Here are three ideas for unusual photo shoots – based on some things I’ve done with both clients and my own family and friends.  The results might be a bit ‘marmite’ but if you like them – you’ll love them!

Flower crowns – I’m lucky to have a local florist who’s a dab hand at these and they are always so popular with little girls.  Whether outdoors or in the studio they are a great way to add just a little bit of style when paired with pretty dresses or sassy street clothes.  They can be whimsical or more rock ‘n’ roll and colours can be matched across groups to give a bit of cohesion in a diverse group.

 

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flower crowns from Flowers By Juliette – Loxwood

 

Dressing up – celebrate what your kids are into by going for a full blown character shoot.  Whether they want to be a princess, a pirate or a superhero there is tons of fun to be had both indoors and in the studio with costume, props and pretending!

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Rocking it out!  This shoot with my Dad and my boy really got me thinking about the possibilities for showcasing hobbies in your photographs.  In this case we had musical instruments, but it would work really well with sports equipment too!

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If any of these appeal to you for your next family photo session, or perhaps you’ve got your own wild and wacky idea please do get in touch – I can’t wait to hear from you!

www.siantphoto.com

sian@siantphoto.com

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Top tips for better smartphone photos of your family this spring!

I was so honoured to be asked to write this special spring blog as guest blogger for Muddy Surrey, the Surrey branch of lifestyle blog Muddy Stilettos.  I love the Muddy way of doing things, gorgeous things for the busy, fashion conscious but not obsessed woman (or man!)

Check out the blog, and the rest of their content at

Sian’s Guest Blog for Muddy Surrey

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Getting creative with children’s portraits – babes in the wood!

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how to vamp up the traditional children’s portrait and create something unique that’s fun for the kids but also fun to shoot.  I spotted that a local florist had posted some snaps of flower crowns she was making for a wedding and decided to create something around these beautiful pieces. Luckily for me, the lovely florist Juliette was up for doing the crowns for me free of charge in exchange for access to the images and so all that remained was to style the rest of the shoot around them.

I began by creating a mood board, gathering ideas about colours and locations as well as the overall feel I wanted.  I’m fortunate to live within spitting distance of the Surrey Hills so finding a lovely open space with good light and plenty of green was straightforward and I’ve used this particular spot before for family shoots and love the graphical nature of the dead tree.  It’s great for kids because its a very short level walk from the car park and the tree makes a fun climbing frame for use even when we’re not shooting.

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My wonderful models are the children of my local friends and I owe their parents much of the success of this shoot because they did an amazing job of sorting the girls out with outfits that met what I was after.  I wanted two different looks from the shoot, one more of a rock chick look with denim and black, as a contrast to the softness of the flowers and to reflect the personalities of these girls – who are not really girly girls at all.

 

And then one more dreamy but not too ‘bridal’ looking, to make a sort of modern take on a sixties/seventies look, flower power and the summer of love.

 

The important thing here was to make sure the girls were having fun!  The whole shoot took around 90 minutes and we had plenty of breaks for them to just hang out while we were doing wardrobe changes and sorting out gear.  Any longer than that and I think they would have got fed up.  As it was we got a great selection of beautiful images and a really good mix of serious and smiley faces which is something I want from every shoot.

You can never be sure how kids will respond to this kind of modelling and I really think that the key is never to push for a shot that just isn’t happening – the more you push the more they will push back – it’s just what kids do.  You have to go with the flow and take advantage when a good shot presents itself.  Some direction helps but you have to take what they give you and it can be golden.  The shot above centre is a case in point.  The only instruction I gave her was put your hand on the log and look at me – that foot point we can only think comes from watching a lot of Strictly Come Dancing!

When working with kids I also find that having a lot of gear is a problem – they seem to react negatively to having lights or even reflectors in their face.  So all these images were shot on moderately high iso with only the available light.  Fortunately this is an area with really good even light and it was an overcast day so shadows were minimised.  However, this did mean they took longer than usual to process, as more sharpening and smoothing was needed due to the higher iso and the need to shoot fairly wide to get enough light in. However, it’s worth it to get the shots with happy mini-models in natural daylight.

A massive thank you to my mini-models and their two Mums (and one Grandma) who were just wonderful on the shoot.  A shout out too to Juliette Phipps who did the flowers and who I hope to work with again soon – you can find her work at https://www.facebook.com/FlowersByJuliette

 

For more of my work visit www.siantphoto.com

 

Documentary of family life – Monkey See, Monkey Do

Some of my favourite images are more documentary in style. These are quieter, more intimate images of the family as it is naturally, when there is no photographer watching.

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When I was little, it was de rigeur for Mum to drag us all down to the local photography studio (anyone else remember Olan Mills?) for an annual photo session. These images are hilarious now, the funky mottled backgrounds, everyone in their best clothes, the cheesy smiles and retro hair do’s – I love them but they are certainly of a time.  Mum would consider any image that didn’t have us all looking at the camera and smiling as a failure and woe betide you if you were the one not playing ball that day (my siblings will be laughing out loud at this point – sorry Mum!).

Now I have my own kid, I still love the smiling images, and when I work for clients I’ll do my best to get that shot – preferably with genuine smiles all round.  But some of my favourite images are more documentary in style.  These are quieter, more intimate images of the family as it is naturally, when there is no photographer watching.

In this personal project, I wanted to look at the relationship between my young son Isaac and his dad.  I wanted to capture this strange space they’ve built (complete with rather odd signs) and look at how they work there together.  I confess I don’t entirely understand their relationship.  It is often fractious, always intense and so full of a strange love that I think is something quite different to my own relationship with either of them.  It is beautiful, although many don’t agree that these images are very beautiful. However, I think in the long run they are a more true representation of family life.

Enjoy!

Www.siantphoto.com