Family photography: Bringing out the best in your kids

Kiwi, our 2-year-old, is currently in a phase where she covers her eyes and cries “No!” every time anyone tries to take her photo. So I was less than confident how our family photos would turn out when we met Becca from Becca Jean Photography on a recent fall afternoon. Becca and I met on an online group for mom-owned small businesses, and she offered to take our photos for free—an amazing and generous offer, especially considering her beautiful work. A bit later, I warned her about Kiwi’s camera shy phase.

Becca wasn’t too concerned. “I’ll joke around and you guys will play and the girls will naturally be smiling,” she assured me.

It turns out Becca was right, and I could not be more blown away by the family photos she took. If there is an award for getting kids who favor the stink eye to smile, Becca wins. Hands down.

I mean, look!

Holiday card family photo ideas for Christmas and fall photography - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Family photography session in Oregon City

In addition to taking the photos, Portland family photographer Becca even suggested our shoot location. Her recommendation was a huge relief because I’ve been so busy lately with work and other commitments; I just didn’t have the time to research and scout outdoor locations that would be good for fall family photography.

We met a few hours before sunset at Clackamette Park in Oregon City, a place I’ve passed a million times on my way home from my coworking space in SE Portland but a place I’ve never stopped at. Becca clearly knows what she’s doing, though, because Clackamette Park had everything I’d want in an outdoor shoot location: fall leaves, dramatic backgrounds and a river perfect for throwing rocks.

Fall leaves family photography in Portland, Oregon - Ten Thousand Hour MamaFamily photography ideas for taking pictures of children - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

(Ok, that last one was on my girls’ priority list, not mine, but still.)

I took Becca’s advice on introducing her to my kids: I said, “This is Mommy’s friend Becca. We’re going to hang out in the park, and she’s going to take some photos,” just like she recommended—and it was a terrific way to set the stage for a low-pressure afternoon of fun.

Let your family photographer lead the way

I’m a go-getter—providing my family’s main source of income as a freelancer means I have to be unafraid to go all-out for what I want and deserve—but it was so. nice. to let Becca take point on our family photography shoot.

Family photography for your Christmas or holiday card - Ten Thousand Hour MamaCouples and family photography ideas - ten Thousand Hour Mama

She already had ideas of scenarios and locations, and she naturally suggested different set-ups so we’d have a variety in our family photos. Her well of ideas took off any pressure of me micromanaging the photo shoot—so I was free to relax, smile and have fun with my family.

Maybe my favorite in-the-moment tip: Becca told me, “The secret to lying down shots is to prop up your head with one hand.” Voila, no double chin!

Ideas for family photography shoot for Christmas cards - Ten Thousand Hour MamaFamily photography ideas in Portland Oregon - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Family photography captures the beauty of childhood

I’m a mom, so naturally I think my kids are the most beautiful people on the planet, inside and out. But seeing their beauty captured in our family photos made me lose it. #momtears

Children's photography - black and white photos capture the beauty of childhood. Ten Thousand Hour MamaIdeas for family photography shoot for Christmas cards - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

When Becca sent me our photos about a week after our outdoor photoshoot, I couldn’t get enough. I set work aside and clicked through our gallery a dozen times, then forced everyone nearby to do the same.

One of the things I like most about the photos of my girls is how natural they are. Becca didn’t pose them in awkward, adult ways—and good thing, too, because there’s no way Kiwi and Peeper would have put up with that. Becca simply captured them being their usual goofy, curious, brave selves—and now we will have a record of this time in their childhoods forever.

Mother-daughter photo shoot - Ten Thousand Hour MamaIdeas for family photography shoot for Christmas cards - Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Getting a Christmas card photo with a fall photoshoot

We didn’t do a lot of fancy photos when I was a kid; pretty much the only portraits we have of us kids are school photos, plus a few sittings from JCPenney my godmother gifted us. When Eric and I started a family, I wanted to start a collection of beautiful photos of us together that showed the love between us.

One extra reason to invest in beautiful family photography: the annual Christmas card (or holiday card, or New Year’s card, however you roll!). I took my own advice from my post 5 Steps for the Best Holiday Family Photo, and I think it worked out beautifully! The problem: Now I’m not sure which picture we should use!

Hey, can you help us out? Which family photo would you choose for a Christmas card?

Christmas card family photo options - which would you choose? Ten Thousand Hour Mama

If it’s not clear, I couldn’t be happier with the family photos from Becca Jean Photography. She was so easy to work with, and she captured my family perfectly. And! Not a single shot of Kiwi covering her face! Seriously, Becca must be a miracle worker.

So please don’t forget to weigh in on which of the above photos you think is best for our family Christmas card! I could use the help!

8 thoughts on “Family photography: Bringing out the best in your kids

  • November 17, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you so much, Catherine, for all the many sweet things you said about me in this post! I seriously had such a fun time with all of you! As far as which photo to choose… oh goodness, they are all just so adorable, I understand how tough of a decision it is! I mean, how many photos were in your gallery? Over 100? lol. I can’t choose a favorite! Print out 4 different cards and send different pictures to everyone. Done. 😉

    • November 21, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Yes, there were so many good ones in my gallery that narrowing it down to 4 was hard! I like your idea of making multiple designs. And I print extra photos to include in cards, too, so family and friends won’t get shortchanged. 😉

  • November 17, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    What great photos!!! All 4 are great but I like a or d…

    • November 21, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Thank you Cora!

  • November 17, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    These family photos are wonderful. I really love the first two in your post, but for the christmas photo I really like A! C would be my second choice. No matter which you pick, I think you’ll have a great card though.

    • November 21, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Thank you Cindy! I’ll be printing the ones of the girls together, especially those fall leaves, to accompany the cards for sure.

  • November 18, 2017 at 8:48 am

    I’m saying this in spite of being a bridge fanatic; A and D are the best 2. Beautiful family.

    • November 21, 2017 at 10:44 am

      Haha Kevi, I love bridges too! They’re such a dramatic backdrop.


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