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3 Way to Make your Outdoor Photography Session a Success

Mother Nature has some pretty spectacular backdrops to offer. Which is why thousands of families every year flock to parks for their family photography. But not all outdoor photos are created equal. Here are a few ways you can prepare for your family's outdoor shoot.

1. Time, time, time

In photography, the old adage of "location, location, location" is trumped by time of day. Photoshop is a magic thing, but even it can't fix the harsh, unflattering shadows a mid-day sun can create. For example, here's a cell phone snap of my daughter at the pool one afternoon. Even though I still think she's adorable, the racoon eyes and sharp deep shadows on her face are not flatter.

However, the sun creates perfectly flattering light right after it rises and right before it sets. As you can see with this delightfully happy 9 month old boy.

Happy 9 month old boy with cotton plants

And this hungry little girl. Look at those smooth and soft shadows on her cheek.

Example of flattering shadows in sunset lighting

And, if the sun goes all the way down you can get this.

Swinging the kids at sunset

2. Scout your location in advance

Every park or outdoor space likely has the perfect spot for your outdoor photo. But sunset is short and you don't want to waste those valuable minutes searching for that spot. Take several things into consideration on your scouting trip:

a) Where will the light be? Make sure there will be enough light on your subject's face when you find a stunning backdrop you love.

Siblings picture with apples and a sunset

b) What will the subject be doing? For example, for this little boy who wasn't crawling yet, I looked for places where he could pull up on something.

Red headed boy pulling up on a stump

c) Take advantage of the season. This shoot was in fall, so I made sure to get some beautiful fall foliage prominently in the background.

Red haired boy in overalls and a milk crate

3. Go with the flow

The best laid plans of mice and men...can be thrown out the window when you get kids involved. Have a good list of poses planned, but generous with your clicking finger during the photo session. Often times, the candid shots you get will be the most meaningful to the family. So don't stop clicking just because the kids are moving around.

I had meant to get this pose:

Kids snuggle in at the end of long photo session in Overland Park

But I also got this bonus picture. This family liked it because the little girl often worms her way in between her two parents at home, so they felt like this candid really captured their family dynamic. And their joy.

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