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Stephanie & David’s Autumn Family Portraits at Quiet Waters Park

A family is posing for a family photo at Quiet Waters Park.

When Stephanie reached out for portraits, the colors on the trees were just starting to turn. She was a fan of our work on Facebook and wanted to capture some portraits of her toy boys, one inquisitive and active 3-year-old, and the other grapefruit-cheeked and newly mobile one-year-old.

Sessions with kids in this age range come with a lot of unknown quantities — what kind of mood will the kids be in, will it be warmer or colder than expected, will nap time have gone as expected that day? Stephanie and David had realistic expectations though and were open to going with the flow. Their main priorities were some photos of the whole family together, and the boys together, and I knew we would get that and more.

We started our session in one of my favorite spots at Quiet Waters, the Butterfly Garden, which sits not far from the main gazebo, to the side of the reflecting pool. The boys were in a good mood, so we jumped right into their first priorities with a photo of the whole family on a bench with bright yellow trees behind them.

As I tend to prefer with photos of small children, we took the path of least resistance, and let the kids loosely dictate our direction. Stephanie and her younger son happened to look great right where they stood and I captured that photo. Then behind me, her older son had discovered a big rock among the tall grass which he was enjoying climbing on, so I turned around and engaged with him and caught some very cute smiles.

Seizing the moment, we plopped his younger brother down on the rock next to him and focused on their second priority, the boys together. The energy shifted away from the rock and the older of the two boys wandered off, so I took the opportunity to capture some photos of David and his new son on the bench we’d been using previously. Loving how David’s photos were turning out, we swapped out David for Stephanie for another quick shot. This is something I love about the butterfly garden: it’s a very small space where a lot of variety can be created quickly — and quick is important when attention spans have only had a few years to develop.

From there we followed the short and winding path through the garden to a bench on the far side of the garden where we got some very cute photos of the younger boy with some adorable expressions. His balance at this age was still a tad precarious, so for safety reasons I instructed David to keep his arm behind him and I would do some photoshop work later.

At this point we were about finished with the butterfly garden, so we moved over toward the Gazebo where we got an iconic photo of the whole family together on the bridge. The older boy was entranced by the view of the water which offered us some cute opportunities for candid shots of his inquisitive nature. We continued on from there for a shot of him and his father with some brilliantly colorful trees.

While we were playing around near the Gazebo, the older boy wanted to show me his prowess jumping off the bench near the water and I caught a cute photo of him mid-air. I showed him the back of the camera and he was mesmerized by his apparent ability to defy gravity. After a few more meandering shots near the Gazebo, and some individual shots of Stephanie and David, we wandered back toward the reflecting pool where the soft shadows of sunset gave us a beautiful patch of grass opposite the Butterfly Garden.

Stephanie unfurled a blanket they had brought from home and we captured a few more big smiles from their younger son, a few more of the boys together, and then one final shot of the whole family seated in the grass. At this point, the boys’ wheels were starting to wobble and Stephanie & David were about ready to wrap things up a few minutes before we had to. I was feeling confident about what we’d captured though, and when the kids say it’s time to be done, it’s usually time to be done.

Before we left, I convinced Stephanie & David to take one shot of just the two of them together. As is common with parents of small children, they weren’t thrilled to be in the spotlight alone like that, but many years from now, the kids will thank them for doing it anyway.

It’s always a good idea to approach sessions that include small children with an open mind. Children reflect how they’re feeling without a filter and that means, they reflect the experience they’re actually having. So when it comes to capturing smiles and laughter and adventure, a portrait session needs to help them want to smile, and laugh and go on an adventure. You have to hold the reins loosely, and that’s exactly what Stephanie & David were prepared to do, and they were rewarded with some very nice, very honest, and very cute portraits in return.