A Session Guide for Dads – PNW Family Photographer

I’ve been photographing families for 15 years and the common feeling or theme is that Dads only do this for their partners. Other photographers can agree that 98% of their sessions are booked by the woman. It’s a fact that Dads don’t actively value photography as much as Moms. (How many Moms do you follow on Instagram versus Dads who post regularly?) I’m not saying they DON’T value their family photos, but Dads don’t think about updating family portraits as often as their counterparts.

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When Mom books the family session and the time comes, sometimes Dads don’t know what to do or how to act. And that’s okay! So I’ve put together a few things to keep in mind to help Dad loosen up, let it go, and look natural.

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1.) I’m on your side. We’re a team. You and I both want the same thing: to make sure your partner looks and feels good. And my goal is to help you look good. During our session, I’ll coach you through natural poses that don’t feel stiff or uncomfortable. If you’re not feeling it, tell me and we’ll do something else. Teams work best when they communicate.

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2.) Act as if we were hanging out at your home in your living room. Look at your partner’s face. Talk with your kids about silly things. Ask your family questions like: Honey, how many days have you gone without washing your hair? What do you think about the weather? Do you remember the first time you farted in front of me? Kids, don’t you love this pink shirt that Mom made me wear? Who would win in a fight: Superman or Thor? Did the photographer just ask us who has the stinkiest feet? I bet she does.

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3.) Move. If you feel stiff and uncomfortable, you won’t look like you’re having fun and your photos will be stiff and uncomfortable. Is your wife wearing a long dress? Twirl her around. Are your kids losing it? Toss them in the air or tickle them. Feeling like you’ve lost control? (You haven’t, trust me. I’ve got it.)

If you need, take a moment to adjust your kid’s shirt and give them a quiet talk. No need to scold or bribe them. Kids WILL be kids. We’re here to have fun, not be perfect. We’re not recreating the Royal Family’s portrait!

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4.) My only expectation of you is to show your family love. Stay connected in some way. Hold hands. Hug. Kiss your kid’s head. Nuzzle your wife’s neck. Grab your partner’s butt. YES. DO. IT. Pull them close, hold them closer. A little PDA won’t hurt either.

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5.) Don’t look at me for every snap. I may ask for everyone to look at the camera a few times, but not the whole time. Our session won’t be what you’ve had in the past. So stop thinking of how photo shoots used to be, and start thinking of how you want them to be.

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I want you to leave our session feeling relieved that we didn’t just sit around forcing smiles, holding posture, and sucking it in. I want you to be more in love with your family and so glad that your partner scheduled an enjoyable photo session with me.

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Relax, Dad. You got this.

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These tips apply to grandpas too!

Dance Recital Portraits – Tacoma Children’s Photographer

I love offering Fine Art School Portraits because it gives me opportunities that I never imagined. Jamie Arrington asked if I could put together a three-session package for her: Children’s mini-session for her daughters in their dance recital costumes, professional headshots for her business, and a Lifestyle Family session. She got a deal!

I met them at Stadium High School where the girls were to be performing later that day. They each had two costumes and so totally rocked their dance moves.

Picking a location – PNW Photographer

Locations can be a part of your portrait story, not just a pretty backdrop. I like to give you the option to choose where we have your portrait session for a few reasons:

  • You’re comfortable where you are and it shows in your photographs.
  • You recall and create meaningful memories with each person in your family in a space that you’ve been to before.
  • You know where things are, how to get there and what to do!

But if you don’t have a preference on a location and you’d rather I decide or if you’re from out of town, I’ve complied a brief list of locations around Tacoma with photos and descriptions to help you decide where you want to tell your story. Keep in mind that we are not limited to these locations! I’m willing and able to shoot almost anywhere! The only thing that may limit us is admission, fees or photography permits such as conservatories or private gardens.

Point Defiance Park, Tacoma

Perfect in any season. The changing colors of autumn leaves by the pond make a beautiful backdrop. So many Tacoma families have fond memories of watching the ducks and walking the paths of Point Defiance Park. In the spring and summertime, the blooming roses and arches give an intimate feel. Even in the wintertime, the bare, twisty branches in the rose garden can offer a dark and mysterious vibe.

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Discovery Park, Seattle

While quite a trek from Tacoma, Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle is one of my favorite locations to shoot. It faces the west, giving us the much desired golden and blue hour dreamy feel. This park has it all: forest, beach, tall grass, buildings painted butter yellow, and even a lighthouse with a trail access. If you don’t mind walking, this is 534 acre park is a gorgeous choice.

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Chambers Bay Park & Beach, University Place

One of the most interesting parks near Tacoma is Chambers Bay. Formerly a sand and gravel quarry, the park’s large skeletal concrete structures separate the park from the golf course and line a trail leading to the bridge and a beach below.

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Swan Creek Park, Tacoma

Hidden where Pioneer Way and Waller Road meet in Tacoma, Swan Creek Park is a quiet little swimming hole surrounded by trees. You might want to bring a towel because shoes are bound to come off. There are trails and little bridges to explore as well.

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Wright Park, Tacoma

Like Point Defiance, Wright Park is gorgeous in all seasons. The yellow leaves of the ginkgo tree brighten up the park even on the darkest days. While photographing inside the Conservatory is a no-go without a permit, there are no restrictions for hanging outside in the gazebo. The 27-acre arboretum has lots of beautiful spots to sit and enjoy being with your family.

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Downtown Tacoma/Urban/City

(Opera Alley, steps of UW, glass bridge & museum, former “Graffiti Garages”)

Tacoma’s downtown area is so unique and interesting. Urban sessions aren’t just for individuals. Documentary sessions or even Lifestyle sessions can take place in the city. If nature is not your thing, let’s explore the town!

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Home & Neighborhood

There’s no place like home. You know your family best and where they would feel most comfortable. I love just sitting on your front porch or hanging out in bed.

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Wild Hearts Farm (+fee)

A local family designed their property specifically for photographers and clients. With options like tire swings and wooden swings, an old truck, a vintage trailer, gardens with ever changing flowers and a natural light, rain free dome, they’ve made endless possibilities.

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Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Stores, Libraries

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Have you ever wanted to document your every day life shopping at Target or Costco? It takes a little more planning and permission from the manager, but these sessions are often so much more relaxed and personal.

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Want to go on an adventure? There are places I’ve always wanted to take my sessions. Do you have ideas?

Ferries

Mountain Trails

Waterfalls

Carnivals/Fairs

Orchards

Central Washington/Columbia River/Vantage