1. Adventure Sessions

We lovingly call outings with my camera- "adventure sessions!" These started when the girls got a little older because they involved some kind of outdoor activity they could do on their own. This could include a hike, picking wild flowers, a picnic, painting the sunset, or even just exploring a new outdoor location.

The best thing about these sessions is we're getting outdoors together! The girls get to use their imagination, play, and receive almost no direction from me. I'm only capturing them having fun and just being kids.


Favorite lens for these- Nikon 85mm f/1.4

Best Ages- 5 & up

Best time of year- Spring & Fall

Other Gear- Canvas backpack for camera!

Location Suggestions for Northern Ca- see info below images

Photo details from top left to right:

Playing at the North Bechelli Dog Park (Turtle Bay East) at sunset with our dog. Lunch picnic near Big Sur. Hiking Hedge Creek Falls with friends in Dunsmuir, CA. Enjoying 4th of July festivities in Mt Shasta, Ca. Full Moon hike Lassen Peak in Lassen National Park. An early fall picnic in Anderson River Park. Pomegranate picking farm- "Hillside Poms" near Corning, Ca. Painting the Sundial Bridge at sunset, at the top of the Sacramento River Trail in Redding, Ca.

2. Directed Play at Home

Directed play at home is just like it sounds. Instead of trying to capture a free for all play day, try this:

I like to set up an area for the girls to play in a well lit room or next to a large window or sliding glass door. It could be anything but when blocks, books, or an art project is set up for them- they are more likely to sit down and play. If there happens to be some sweet moments, I'm nearby with my camera.

Another directed play would be to have kids go outside and play in an open shaded area such as a covered porch (even light!). Early morning light or golden hour (1 hour before sunset) is also a great time to capture these lifestyle portraits outside.

The most rare of all would be the moment you see your children playing together naturally, nicely AND with some cool lighting around them. As quietly as possible, grab your camera and capture that moment! You may only have ONE shot! But the good news is as the girls got older, they got very used to me bringing out the camera. The more and more you bring out your camera, the more your kids will ignore it. They will go about playing instead of trying to pose for you or run away! So practice away at home!


Favorite Lens for these- Nikon 35 f/1.8 or 50 f/1.8

Best Ages- Newborn & Up

Best Activities- Paint in the shade, reading books on the bed, stacking blocks near a sliding glass door, gardening or playing in dirt near sunset.

3. Special Portraits

Special portraits started off as a yearly birthday session for each of my girls. I would get a sweet little outfit and take them outdoors for an official portrait session. Many many years down the road there started to be some moans and groans when I said it was time for their yearly portrait session.

Since then, they've become more of a special time for the girls and I to connect. I will take them shopping and let them help pick out a portrait session outfit. At home, I help them get ready and curl their hair. Our session is always at golden hour, so I keep it short and fun. Afterwards we typically get to go out on a girls date! (their favorite part).

Even though I am taking photos of them, it feels very connected and unplugged. They are getting one on one time with me, and I am so happy to have all of these beautiful portraits of my girls to print, frame, and cherish for years to come. It's a win win!


Favorite Lens for these- Nikon 85mm f/1.4

Best Age- Start at their 1st birthday, but its never too late to start!

Best Pose- "walk fast towards the camera" "spin around" plus lots of talking and distraction

4. Silly Faces

Don't skip this one! Every session and every time you bring out your camera you should let your kids show off their current silly faces! It actually makes a world of difference with kids in front of the camera. Save it for the end if you're doing a "special portrait" such as: "Ok, nice smiles first then you can show me any silly face you want at the end!".

I've even brought out my camera at home specifically for some silly face series. Kids need to let it out anyways, so when you give them permission it actually helps all your future sessions to go well. And I love all the expressions I've captured over the years.

Pro-tip: Make sure to snap away while they are making the silly faces because you are also sure to grab genuine smiles in between.

Best lens- any

Best time- always or as a reward


—Lisa Magladry of Modern Image Photography