I love photographing children. They have such vivid imaginations and personalities. As a mom of 4, it’s those raw and real expressions of joy and glee that I most appreciate. So about 6 months ago I began dreaming up some ways to capture the same thing for my clients. The idea was to capture the magic of childhood in photos that represent children’s truest smiles, without forcing them to pose this way and look that way (which can sometimes end in headache or tantrum). The result of my brainstorm is what I like to call “Imagination Sessions”.
Props that Inspire Creative Play
I like to cater to girly and (boy)sterous natures alike, so I offer both gender specific props and gender neutral props to my clients.
For girls, things like fairy wings, big paper flowers and feathers are a huge hit.
I really love shooting at sunset, too, because it lends itself to the dreamy nature of these concepts.
For boys, I use colorful bouncing balls, make paper airplanes and hats with them, and pull out the superhero capes!
As for gender neutral ideas, how about sidewalk chalk or bubbles?
I even have a galvanized horse trough that doubles as a ship to sail away in…
(Kinda makes me think of “Where the Wild Things Are”.)
Incorporating Imagination into a Family Photo Session
Often I will bring along a goody or two to use at the end of a family photo session, like these fun IKEA umbrellas (just $4 each, and they come in polka dot as well).
It’s a great way to wind things down and allows the kids run around and decompress after the more posed photos. It’s also a great incentive to get them through those more traditional shots, as it gives them something less structured to look forward to.
Other ideas worth exploring for imagination sessions include tents, kites, sprinklers… there are too many to name! Everywhere you look, there are ideas. I’m certain there is a creative way to incorporate any activity children love to do into your photography. I often turn to beloved children’s storybooks for inspiration, as well as creative catalog layouts.
What’s so nice about these types of photo sessions is how versatile they are. They are great for yearly birthday photos, siblings, BFFs, even themed birthday parties!
And with such engaging props, very little intervention is required of me as the photographer. I get to snap away while children let their minds wander and imaginations soar! It’s a win, win. In fact, the only problem I have ever run into is children not wanting the photo session to end! Heck, often I don’t want the session to end… these are such heart-warming and fulfilling moments for me. And I often race home, giddy to get a look at what I’ve captured.
I have such a passion for real, genuine, documentary style photography, and “Imagination Sessions” just take that to the next level and make it kid friendly. It’s creative portraiture, but not forced. There’s a carefree feel to it, which is so exciting and challenging to capture; I never know what I’m going to end up with!
Leilani Rogers is a natural light photographer from Austin, TX, thriving off of what she likes to call “photography that matters” – that includes creative children’s, lifestyle and birth photography. Feel free to visit her blog and website at Leilani Rogers, Photographer and like her Facebook page to stay up to date on all her ventures!