Posts tagged blue spruce park
Who to Bring Along to Your Photo Session | Indiana PA Senior Photographer

This time of year, lots of people are getting family photos taken with screaming kids, maybe grandparents, or even a fluffy pooch in tow and it may be tempting to call in the troops to help you manage it all - here I'm sharing tips for those who are asked to be a part of the fun and assist during a photo shoot! Over the summer when senior sessions are in full swing, it's common to have your mom or dad to come along to share in the experience and make it less awkward spending a few hours with a total stranger. I have seen lots of clients even invite along friends to wrangle dogs, grandmas to soothe babies, and siblings to hang out during their family portrait sessions too. I LOVE meeting new people, and am always so grateful for an extra set of hands! So, from a photographer's point of view, if you are considering having someone come along for your senior or family shoot, here's some things to share with them!

When the Camera Goes Up, the Volume Goes Down

I spent years as a studio photographer, where it was very common for a crowd to walk in with those being photographed. It's still common now, especially during family shoots, for sisters, friends, grandmas, etc. to come along to "help make the kids smile." The best thing you can do is watch the photographer and when the camera goes up, allow him or her to be the only one communicating with the family, kids, senior, etc. Your photographer has likely had hundreds of subjects in front of their camera and has some tried and true tricks on how to get their subject to authentically smile - in fact, you can read some of those tricks here! The photographer has a certain look or emotion they are trying to coax out of the subject, and it is the most helpful to allow him or her the chance to have the model's complete attention to ensure that happens.

There's No Such Thing As Personal Space

This is more for family sessions, but if a photographer does ask you, the trusty friend or mom, to help get the subject's attention, it's best to stand directly behind him or her. I tell people to basically jump on top of me. If you are trying to coax the gaze of a three-nager directly into the camera, it's best to have the person they are looking at or watching be as close to the lens as possible. Get all up in my biz!

Be a Pack Mule

Here's for all you senior moms and dads. I get this question a lot - is it normal for a parent to come along on a senior shoot? The answer? It's perfectly normal! About 50% of my seniors come to their session with their mom or dad. And as insensitive as it sounds, it's really helpful to everyone if a parent can be a coat rack, more or less. Senior sessions are all about the clothes, am I right? Without minimizing the importance of you wonderful parents out there, it's important that the photographer can get to know the amazing son or daughter you already know so well. Teenagers can be a bit introverted around strangers, and the best thing you can do to help your teenager feel comfortable is to show your quiet support by taking care of the details like holding and organizing their outfit changes.

Let Me Teach You Something

Here's a fun tip for anyone, at any type of session: let me put you to work. I love when folks are interested in the process of the photo taking, and not just focused on getting the subjects to smile. That's my job! I love, too, when you are willing to learn something and excited to help out! Something I've found that people are thrilled to help with is holding a reflector. The photo session as a whole should be an enjoyable experience for everyone, and I've found that when willing parents and friends are teachable and become involved in creating the photo by holding a shiny silver disc, they take ownership of the end product. They too become excited to see a perfectly lit subject, and how their small effort of holding a homing beacon for ET can affect the quality so much. So many people have a closet interest in photography, and I am more than happy to teach and explain anything and everything you want to ask me!

For the senior session highlighted below, Katie chose to come to her senior session by herself. I think it's wise to know yourself and know how you are around strangers, and if being alone with your photographer will push you to talk a little more, that's probably the wisest choice. Katie and I had no problem keeping the conversation going as she taught me about her interests, her family, and her inspirations for the future! I hope you enjoy the highlights of her beautiful session below!

Family of Six - balancing fun, love, and parenting | Blue Spruce Park, Indiana PA Family Photographer
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Are you a mother (or father!) of a big crowd of spunky, unique, and larger-than-life kiddos? Do you feel overwhelmed at times, wonder how other parents out there do it? Do you wonder how to you keep things fun at home, while still maintaining the devotion your spouse needs to keep your marriage strong? Then this is the post for you! 

I met the McMasters family a few years ago as the fun-loving bunch where mom was a bridesmaid, the boys were ring bearers, and the girls were flower girls. A week ago, I caught up again with the super cute crew for some amazing family photos at the beautiful Blue Spruce Park in Indiana, PA. Angela, the lovely mom, had some awesome style, (everyone in Chuck Taylors!) and I was delighted that besides cute chucks and super-hero outfits, I also had the family's toy t-rex Greeny and their chocolate lab Blue to work with!! Ang was also sweet enough to take the time to answer some parenting questions that I hope will inspire and bless you!

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This is a juggling act for sure!  We are pretty routine throughout the week with school and evening activities, but we still find time for fun.  It’s important to us for the kids to use their imaginations, so we limit screen-time and gaming consoles to short windows over the weekends.  We build forts, have Nerf gun battles, rock out to our favorite songs in the living room, read stories, and the list goes on.  We also have some not-so-fun evenings depending on how everyone cooperates with each other, which is okay, too.  We certainly aren’t perfect!

Friday and Saturday evenings we usually try to add in something extra fun, like family game or movie night.  We’ve set up camp in the living room and slept on the floor.  It’s enjoyable for all of us to unwind as a family.

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This has been a HUGE challenge for us.  Jeremy and I have been married for 11 years.  Our oldest is 10, so we weren’t a family of two for long.  Both of us have demanding jobs (Jeremy is a director of network engineering for a cable company and I’m a part-time school psychologist) and four beautiful, busy children.  It doesn’t leave much time for us to spend together.  For many years, we were often two ships passing in the night, dividing and conquering kids’ needs only to crash in bed day after exhausting day.  

There came a time when we both realized that we needed to rebuild the foundation of our family.  If we weren’t strong together and in our faith, we were all going to fall apart.  So...we started scheduling time together (as if we needed one more schedule to  It has been the BEST investment ever.  Three nights a week we start bedtime a little bit earlier so we can have a couple of hours to ourselves catching up on the day-to-day, binge-watching our favorite Netflix shows, or playing a few hands of cards.  I thank God everyday for this discovery.  For a while, I thought I was losing my best friend, but he was there all along.

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I love the magic in Finley’s eyes when she discovers something new.  We watch bumble bees on flowers, caterpillars on leaves, and butterflies bouncing through the air.  She also has the most contagious laugh.


I love Declan’s zest for life.  He lives everything in a big and loud way.  For a little guy, he’s quite the comedian.  I also melt when he tells me he “just needs mommy loves.”  I’ll take those little chubby arms wrapped around my neck any day.  

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I love how Brennan catches me off-guard with his sweet and loving nature.  He always asks for “up hugs.”  I will miss the day I can no longer lift him into my arms.  I pray I am strong enough to give “up hugs” for at least a few more years...


I love that Makenna lives with such a huge heart.  She is the epitome of kindness and wise beyond her years.  I find her caring for me when I am struggling to care for myself.  Four kids, a dog, and let’s be honest, a husband, can do that do you :)

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The best piece of advice I have for parents of large families, or any family for that matter, is to love, love, love, each and every precious moment...the joy, the laughter, the tears, the tantrums.  I’ve learned to be thankful for messes and spills and meltdowns just as much as I am for the happy times.  Be present.  Offer and accept grace.  Ask for forgiveness when needed.  These are some of the best gifts you can give your children.