7 Photos That Weren't What I Had in Mind - Family Lifestyle Photography Waterloo

This photo is just one of many that I have taken while trying to produce something completely different, and it's one of my favourites!

This photo is just one of many that I have taken while trying to produce something completely different, and it's one of my favourites!

I have often thought, especially in the past few years, that maybe life is made up of things that don’t go the way you thought they would. John Lennon sang it beautifully: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” But there’s an art and a grace to letting go of those plans and embracing what’s happening instead, isn’t there? And sometimes, it’s much easier to do than other times!

Waking up earlier this week to find most of our snow melted was kind of a pleasant surprise, until I realized that snow sessions are infinitely trickier without snow! There will be lots of opportunities to get outside for photo sessions in the spring, summer, and fall, and we may even have snow again before the winter is done, but this thaw has definitely made me adjust my plans!

I started thinking about all of the other times that big things and little things don’t quite go according to plan. And that got me thinking I should show you some of the photos I’ve taken from moments that haven’t quite gone the way I thought they would!

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Maybe you've seen this image on my home page. It's one of my all-time favourites! But did you know it almost didn't happen? We went to a local lavender farm, and I really had my heart set on some beautiful posed family photos with all of us wearing white shirts...I'm sure you've seen similar ones on Pinterest. But the sun was hot, and beating down on us, and it had been a long drive to get there, and the kids just wanted to run around freely. It quickly became clear that no amount of pleading and bribery was going to get everyone looking at the camera with a decent expression on their faces at the same time! So I took a deep breath and just let go of the picture that I wanted to take in favour of keeping everyone happy in the July heat, and this happened instead. We eventually did take a photo all together, but I love this one even more!

lifestyle child photography waterloo

We went out to a park to try to capture some moments between these two cousins (and besties!), and almost as soon as we got there, it became clear that it was going to be tough to get both kids heading in the same direction at the same time. Being "hangry" calls for a snack break! I'm so glad to have captured this moment between these two. I love everything about this picture. It looks like Miss L (on the left) is keeping watch, taking the first shift so Miss N (in the hat) can rest. The thumb in the mouth, head on shoulder, and holding hands all show how comfortable they are together and how connected they feel. This is such a sweet moment, one that I never would have set up, but it's one of the best photos I took of these two that day.

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Here's a shot that I did set up, to some extent. I got the idea stuck in my head that an outdoor tea party would be adorable for my daughter's second birthday, and I desperately wanted to make it happen! The day was pretty rainy, so we had to run out and set up quickly while there was a break in the drops. I don't like to work in a hurry with kids, because adding any kind of pressure to the session can make it much less fun. This little sweetheart was so adorably fascinated with the setup! It was definitely out of the ordinary to have this furniture and these toys outside! She kept moving the chairs and the animals around. She was so taken with the chandelier, and kept touching it and pulling on it. Then she wanted to climb on the chairs, each one in turn. I was getting lots of awesome action pictures of this very active little girl, but not quite the sweet little tea party that I had in mind! Finally, I took a deep breath and just let go of the idea. I was about to put the lens cap on my camera and just let her play when she sat down and started chatting with the animals. I'm so glad I snapped this one! And I'm so glad I just let her play instead of posing her in the set. It has a much more authentic feel than the one I might have captured otherwise, I think.

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"Yep, that's us!" said this mom and dad, laughing, the moment I showed them this image! Is there anything better than an image that truly captures who you are as a family? We were doing a lifestyle session at their home, and this mom mentioned how much she loved their red front door, so we decided to try a few shots on their front porch. This isn't a traditional posed family portrait, and this moment isn't likely what these parents were expecting when they sat down, but everyone was feeling relaxed and comfortable, and just being themselves. When you come away from a photo session with images that capture your connection as a family, I think that you view them differently. My hope is that as well as showing how you looked at a particular moment in time, they will show how you felt, so that you feel that same connection each time you look at your images.

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That facial expression! These parents laughed right out loud at this one! This is why I love those moments that are relaxed and unguarded, and when you choose a lifestyle session, you can count on being relaxed and comfortable the whole time. I want to capture the most genuine expressions and behaviour, from kids and adults. These parents wanted a picture of the three of them together, and while we came away with several to choose from, this is one that I never anticipated capturing, and these parents loved it!

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One last one of my own kids! I love their expressions in this one. They're having a "race" when my son was learning to crawl. It's a great moment! Would you believe I was frustrated because I wanted them to sit together so I could take a photo of them looking sweet in their Easter outfits? Looking back, I wish I had started at the point of letting them play and just be together. There's nothing wrong with wanting a particular photo, especially if you feel like you're documenting an important moment. I've learned that it's also important to document the moments that don't seem as important at the time. Looking at this photo even though it's only a year old, I can already see such changes in them, and I realize that it's all of these small moments that make up their relationship. I'm so glad to have photos like this of them, even though they're not sitting neatly posed, because this really holds their personalities and connection. It's not at all what I set out to capture, but when I let go of the ideal in my head and go with what's right in front of me, magic happens!

The thing is, I love a great twist ending! I love it when things don’t turn out the way I predict in a book, TV show, or movie. And do kids ever know how to be unpredictable! I’ve learned that for me, going with the flow and letting them be themselves gives me way better results than trying to force them into a pose or activity that can’t contain their energy. Especially with my own kids, I’ve come to understand that the more I try to make something really specific happen, the less fun it is for them, which also ends up being way less fun for me too. When I look at my images later, I want to remember laughing and having a great time, not feeling frustrated or annoyed, or having my kids frustrated and annoyed with me. The lesson I’ve learned from a lot of these pictures is to approach photographing my kids, and yours, with an open mind, a playful approach, and an ever-ready shutter finger!

When I pick up my camera, sometimes I have a general idea of what I’d like to capture. Other times, I just let things happen totally naturally. Rarely do I pose my kids (or yours). Sometimes I direct a bit, in terms of moving for better light, or suggesting an activity, but all of the interaction is genuine. That’s what I love about lifestyle photography: it’s meant to be spontaneous, true-to-life, and made up of those “in-between” moments that make you smile and say, “Yep, that’s us!” So there’s no need to worry about whether your children will cooperate, stay still, and keep their focus. They’ll be engaged in something they love. You'll feel great about the session, and your images!

What about you? Have you ever tried too hard to make a photograph work? Have you ever taken a photograph that you love, but that wasn't what you set out to capture? Do you photograph regular, everyday moments with your family? Come over to Facebook and join the conversation!