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How to Enjoy Your Family Portraits | Seattle

9 tips on how to enjoy your family portraits | #portraittips #family #familyportraits #seattlearboretum | www.rebeccaellison.com

Family portraits are one of those things that usually mom is most excited about, dad is here to make mom happy and the kids are just along for the ride. Right?

It's a funny thing, though, because, of all those photos we have of our family, the family portraits are unique in that they are usually the ones that make it to the wall. And they are usually the ones that have the whole family in it. Mom or dad are not stuck on the picture taking side of things, but can actually be present in the moment to be part of that moment.

So, how do you enjoy your family portraits, especially when someone may be dragging their feet to participate?

My biggest suggestion is to roll with it. And trust in your photographer, as while things may seem like chaos to you as Mom, trust me, this is all normal in the life of a portrait photographer.

But the problem is, if you get upset or start trying to control the happiness and engagement of your family members (kids or spouse), all it's going to do is heighten the tension and make those "I'm smiling so to not get yelled at" smiles, and not the fun ones of true spontaneous laughter that you truly want.  And trust me. No one is going to burst out in spontaneous laughter if there is high tension in the area.

So what do you do you're wondering? Let me take the reigns.

It's amazing how many amazing photos we can get while we let the kids do their thing, and once I start joking around with dad, he'll lighten up too :)

If you want those spontaneous laughter moments, you have to let the kids do some of the fun things they want to do, before you ask them to sit and smile pretty for the camera. And the more I get them moving and doing the things they love, the more they will smile authentically as well as the more likely they will hang out to do that one photo that I ask of them (and that you really want!)

So my top  9 tips for enjoying your family photos

  1. Feed the entire family before coming to the shoot. And feed them something with protein and not just carbs. Because low blood sugar will disrupt the listening skills of any family member. And that vacant far away look on little faces, or full on melt down faces are not the funnest to remember.
  2. Trust in me that I know what I am doing
  3. Let the kids run and play. We will capture the moments they love then ask them to do the moment you want. They are much more likely to do what we want after they get their choice first.
  4. Be open to silly 4th-grade humor fart jokes. Because you know dad will laugh too :)
  5. Be open for those more candid laughing moments of your kids vs the sit still, stare at camera and smile big photos. Because, for kids, the first option is what will actually create the smiles
  6. Don't bring up bribery, treats unless it's the LAST option. And let me tell you when that is. Because the second you do, treats are the entire focus. Also, never bring a sucker or chocolate. If you bring treats, make it gummy bears, or something that doesn't leave a sticky face or hands. Raisins are great too!
  7. Do not threat, yell or talk sternly under your breath to the kids. Because while you are trying to get them to do what you want, it's only going to change the dynamic of the shoot and all fun flies out the window. Trust me, let me take the reigns and I will get them to laugh.
  8. Be open to non traditional portraits, because sometimes, that is what life gives!
  9. And finally. Ask for a portrait of you and your husband without the kids. It's so easy to focus on just the kids, but it's just as important to focus on the relationship and love that started the family too!

This photo session below is a great example of rolling with it! I've been photographing this family since Caroline, the oldest was itty bitty. They are the sweetest, and always so much fun to photograph. This session we had, the littlest, Miss Nora was 2.5 and gonna do what she wanted. Not a lot of stand here and look and smile coming from her that day, so you know what we did? 

We played. They ran, they twirled, they joked and they danced. I let them be them, and we caught some magic. Mom and dad trusted that I knew what I as doing and that I would create moments that they would treasure and sneak in a family portrait in the middle. Probably seemed like chaos a time or two, but they rolled with it, and we walked away with these moments of pure childhood delight. Plus a family photo and a mom and dad only photo for them.

Win win :)

Have a question or comment? Leave it below and I'll answer it!

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Recap : How to prep for your engagement session

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Our Easy Guide to Printing Your iPhone Photos

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Our Easy Guide to Printing Your iPhone Photos

Check out my favorite consumer level companies to print your iphone photos. Don't let your memories fade as they fall farther back in your camera roll! Come see how easy it is to get great quality prints, albums, books and magnets made of your every day snapshots!

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Date Night Ideas Around Seattle

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Date Night Ideas Around Seattle

Continuing on my theme this month about relationships and marriage health....

For the health of your relationship, it's so important to dedicated time together where you can have fun just you two. So that inspired me to think up some fun, simple and cheap date night ideas around Seattle.

My husband and I are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary in May and our 17th dating anniversary in July. Back in 2003, we had only been dating for a couple of years, and I was about to head into an intense 2 year photography program. Knowing that our time together was going to be limited once school started, we implemented a date night. It was Wednesdays for us, and it was our weekly night that we would spend together.

We didn't start out with any major plans or things to do, it was just a way we made sure to carve out time to spend together. Well, 12 years, a pair of wedding rings, and a pair of children later, date nights are just as important to us, and I think the health of our relationship has a lot to do with how we try to carve out time to spend together.

Truth be told, we no longer can have our weekly date nights (as Pete works nights now), but we still strive to carve out that time to spend together. Being intentional about being together, and it shows in our relationship.

So I thought it would be fun to help with some inspiration for date night ideas. Some big, most small, all intentional. Which I think is the most important part of date night. Not necessarily what you do, as long as you are intentionally spending time together... and it's healthy to spend that intentional time together doing something other than staring at a TV screen.

I've had some fun with this post looking around the internet at ideas others have for date night, and there are so many things you can think to do with your partner that doesn't involve just sitting in front of the tv.

Here's a list of some fun date night ideas around Seattle to get you going

  • Take a drive : Pull out a map of the area (say within 50/100 miles), close your eyes and put your finger on  the map. Drive to that location and find a diner to have coffee. Then people watch.
  • Go Rollerskating (old school!)
  • Go ice skating
  • Play video games from your childhood (atari anyone??). If you don't have any old school gaming consoles, check out Georgetown Liquor Company!
  • Go to a play at the community theater
  • Open mic night at the comedy club. Try out the Comedy Underground
  • Make homemade pizza from scratch. Don't know how? Youtube it and learn together
  • Go Geocashing
  • Take a Walk around town.  Greenlake, Discovery Park, on the Burke Gilman Trail, or at Olympic Sculpture Park. There are tons of amazing places to walk around in Seattle.
  • Go on a hike
  • Put together a 500+ piece puzzle
  • Bike along the Burke Gilman Trail
  • Wine tasting in Woodinville
  • Read together... sometimes it's just the time spent next to each other...
  • Plan a trip.. .doesn't need to be realistic or happen soon... but if you had time to go to (insert destination) and had X days, what would you do?
  • Recreate your first date.
  • Amusement park like Wild Waves
  • Spend an evening in bed together
  • Go to the casino and play the dime slots - there are great casinos within an hour drive in pretty much any direction from Seattle.
  • Art Walks - check out the art happening in your neighborhood.
  • Play a game (cribbage, canasta and qwirkle are our go to games).
  • Date Night in a Jar -One of my favorites is a "Date Night in a Jar" post I found over on Lifeinthegreenhouse.com blog. She put together a super simple way of always having something creative to do for date night and putting the ideas on Popsicle sticks in a mason jar. Color coded for type of date: at home,  night out but not too expensive, and more costly, more planning needed dates.

Do you have a favorite date night with your partner? Comment below and share!

Some more inspiration : 101 Things to do with your husband 

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