FAMILIES
NEWBORNS
MATERNITY
ENGAGEMENTS
WEDDINGS
CORPORATE

Explore

@bellawangphotography

meet bella

Boston-based family, newborn and wedding photographer. Creating timeless images on location. Click to read more.

How family photography will look in 2020

Family, Maternity, Newborn

Focus on play

I’ve always wanted to transition my photography style into a more documentary style of family photography. This is the push I guess I always needed to make this dream a reality! My sessions this year will be child-led. Since I cannot come closer than 6′, my usual directing style will take a backseat to more prompts of play and discovery. This will be the driving force behind family photography in 2020.

Child playing with bubbles in backyard
Bubbles in the apartment complex BBQ area. Can you tell?

Personally, I would love to move to this style of photography as it is very relaxing. We may not have control over the outcome, but it will be true to who your child and family is today. I always found that in directing, some poses and suggestions didn’t work for certain families because that wasn’t how they played. I want to understand and see how YOUR family plays and loves each other.

Locations

Sessions for 2020 will not be taking place in the city, but the focus will shift to parks, conservation lands and backyards. Everyone knows how much I love a great city backdrop, but unless you are willing to do a sunrise session, I will not be doing any city-based sessions. For the definition of sunrise, please check google or click here. Unfortunately, that is earlier than most of us would like. Be realistic and honest. Please do not book a sunrise city session and then ask to change the session to 8:00am. If the timing does not work, please consider a location out of the city or in your backyard.

Locations best suited for 2020:

  • Your backyard/front yard
  • A field/conservation land/out in nature
  • Avoid sunset in the city

Nature allows for kids to be in their element, which is exploring. Their discovery of new things and sights can bring about signature expressions that you’ll want to capture. Yes, sometimes they can stare at a rock or a stick for 15 minutes, but you only need a handful of gorgeous keepsake images to frame and remember this crazy time in our world. It’s not about quantity, but instead about quality. It’s something I am taking more to heart every day. In our materialistic world that we live in, I’m starting to really take a deeper look at what I truly need. Having my family healthy and happy is what’s important to me; not another cute dress, or another pair of shoes that I’ll stash away and never find until I clean out my closet 3 years from now.

When choosing a location, keep in mind your child’s unique temperament. Will they do well after a 2-hour car ride where you’re likely rushing because you are running late? Or is it more relaxing for you to just keep things close to home so you don’t have to worry about getting gas, getting out on time, and not forgetting anything along the way. I always like to suggest to keep things simple.

Ideas for play

If you are concerned about the pace, there are ways to engage a child and have them move on. Lots of hugs, cuddles, a piggyback ride, lifts into the air are all ways to reset their focus. I don’t know what your family typically does and I don’t know how willing you are to allow things to flow naturally, so I will take your lead on how these sessions will evolve. If you are at home, babies LOVE the following:

  • bubbles
  • tents
  • pillow fights outdoors on a nice cream throw
  • playing in the water
  • FOOD

You can have a sprinkler going, set up an inflatable pool with a rainbow. Go nuts. You are only limited by your imagination. If you want to brainstorm together, I am more than happy to!

Ideas for home

Simple beige throw, some pillows and VOILA. For the top-down photo below, I would need a step ladder, but at this time, I don’t want to complicate things.

family session at home 2020 pillow fight

The images on the page are all taken in backyards or common areas (like BBQ areas) of apartment complexes. Things do not have to get complicated.

at home lifestyle session in Cambridge, MA
1 year old baby eating watermelon
Babies and food… no easier way to get a smile than to feed them their favourite food.
baby eating watermelon
The mom originally wanted her in a dress with shoes on, decorations and a monogrammed quilt, but I just told her simple is better. She loved the idea and was so happy we kept things simple and unadorned.
Baby and watermelon in family session at home
It’s just a watermelon, but I was able to create 9 adorable images. Things don’t have to get complicated.

I also shot some video for the following family, but I haven’t had a chance to edit it together yet. I will post that when it’s ready. Basically, your backyard can be a place to have a socially distant and safe session. If something goes wrong, you are at home and have access to anything you need. You can get snacks when baby is hungry, or run inside if you’ve forgotten something. These sessions can be relaxed and beautiful. It’s also a great way to document your family… your home…right now. It’s where you raised your children and you should be proud to show it off.

family at home session in New England
Lots of options when you’re at home.
sprinkler at home family photography
sprinkler at home family photography
LOVE this capture.

Basically what I’m saying is don’t eliminate a perfectly good option right in your backyard. It doesn’t have to be the public gardens, you don’t have to clean your backyard and plant some trees. Just let go of perfection and enjoy your life and loves around you. It’s the little things in the every day that define who we are. This is your story.

Ideas for newborns and the outdoors

Newborn session in apartment backyard pool area
The BBQ area in an apartment complex can be beautiful. If it’s not, I don’t need to draw attention to it. I only include location/surroundings when it adds to the story.

Outdoor spaces are a great spot for newborn photos as well. This baby girl had both her newborn and 1 year photos taken in their apartment complex BBQ area (she’s the watermelon baby!). Have I ever mentioned how much I like BBQ areas and often photograph in them without drawing attention to the fact they are simple locations steps from your front door? Some of my families choose to have all of their sessions at home and I have seen them for YEARS. To me, it’s always been about the family and the baby; not the location.

Why sunset or sunrise?

The best light is always SUNRISE and SUNSET. However, sunrise may not be when you think it is! In June, sunrise is 5:15AM: LINK.

Since these sessions are less pressure and more about play, your baby doesn’t have to be at their happiest point of the day (which is generally in the morning). But you know your child. If they are a complete mess by sunset, please schedule a sunrise session. If sunrise or sunset doesn’t work, the session has to take place on your private property to ensure we don’t run into crowds.

The reason why sunset or sunrise is best is better outlined in this blog post. Since I cannot control where your child may lead us, I need to have constant good light to work with. During midday, a bad patch of light will not give you the images I’m known for.

How sunset/sunrise will affect your backyard session

To prepare for your session, please send me a 360 video or panoramic photo of your outdoor spaces. If you want a sunrise session, please take the photos at that time on a CLOUDLESS day. This will be the worst-case scenario of light I will be dealing with and that information is important so I can tell you what direction I will be likely shooting in so that you can decide if the background is what you envisioned. You can also remove any unnecessary/unsightly objects so that the backdrop is clean. If you send me photos at a random time of day and not the whole backyard, I won’t have a full picture and the exercise will be ineffective.

Early morning family session in backyard
This was an 8:30am session in the backyard with a new puppy! We were able to have a later start because it was Fall (sunrise is later) and they had very tall trees in their yard to break up the direct light.

If you have a specific part of your outdoor space to be the backdrop, I need to see a photo of it and know the time of day you took the photo so I can tell you when is the best time to take photos given the backdrop restriction. Basically I want to ensure there isn’t full sun in your eyes during the session. You will squint. I want the sun to your back. The background will always be where the sun is.

Steps for a successful backyard/front yard session:

  • send me 360 videos/panoramic photos of your house taken during early morning and sunset.
  • tell me what time those images were taken
  • the direction of the sun will be your background (the sun will be to your back when I photograph you)
  • decide if there’s a part of your yard you want to highlight and what parts you want to avoid
  • communicate these considerations to me

Examples of directional light

Below you can see the sun in the photo. I am staying in the same position as the flower girl also passes. This is the ideal lighting situation.

The recessional after wedding during fall 2019

Below: Sun to their back. This rims the hair with beautiful light.

Boston family outdoors in the fall with sweaters

Same Concept:

Surprise proposal idea in Boston

Again… beautiful sun behind them.

Sunset and dad, mom and child at Boston Public Gardens

That’s not to say I always shoot with the suns to your back, but this is how I shoot 90% of the time. If it’s overcast, there is no direction to the light and I am fine with photographing ANYTIME basically. If it’s stormy and overcast, this is what that would look like (post). Another overcast day would look like this (post). Both sessions called for 40% chance of rain or more. I don’t need a sunny day to make gorgeous images. Working in New England you have to deal with the temperamental weather, otherwise, you have no business being a photographer here! I WISH we were blessed with gorgeous sunsets and light like they have constantly in California.

Family session just after the rain with puddles
Puddles add a really great dimension to photos and check out that sky! Forget about the muddy outfits and shoes and just play.

For more information on lighting, please see this blog post.

Unfortunately, I cannot argue with mother nature. Sunrise is sunrise and sunset is sunset. Rain may come and it may go. Again, the goal is to capture your family. I love splashes in the rain with rainboots. I love kids rolling in the mud. The story is up to you. If you want a no rain session, then we can reschedule as I’ve always had, but I am telling you it will not affect my images.

Rainy wedding day photo of bride and groom
A rain photo during a wedding day.

Session length

My sessions will be shorter this year to minimize exposure. That’s why I need your help to really hone in on your goals. Sessions will be about 40 minutes. For younger babies, I only need about 20 minutes to get some incredible images and the rest of the time I can give you space to allow for feeding, soothing, and whatever your baby needs. I’ve done this for a long time and it’s all about maximizing the time we have together to get some quality images. Sensing a theme? It’s all about quality over quantity. If things are going well and I can easily stay far away, I will be flexible with this timeline. That decision will be up to me, but discussed with you during our consultation.

Video Consults

Going forward for the rest of the sessions this year, I will be having video consults with all families the day of or the day before the session. This way we know we are all healthy and we can get the jitters out of the way. We can talk about your goals for the session and what the plan is / what are your prompts for play. I want to understand what you want and ensure I set your expectations about what is possible. I want to make sure we are all on the same page so that we can just start photographing when we meet in person. This is all about building trust and making everyone calmer about the session. I do not want this to be a stressful experience. Family photography should be fun and playful. These consults don’t have to be lengthy, but they have to happen.

Take away

Please only schedule a session if you’re willing to communicate with me during a video call and have a child-led session that has no direction from me. We can make small modifications based on your first inquiry, so please be as forthcoming as possible when inquiring about a session so I can tell you if it’s possible. My goal is to keep things fun, stress-free and all about communication so we can keep healthy. If I cannot guarantee a safe session, I run the risk of passing a sickness onto another family. I cannot have that happen and this is my plan for making it safe for everyone.

For information on further procedures and precautions I’m taking, please read the following posts to help ease your mind. I am taking this virus very seriously as I am sure you all are as well.

Phased Reopening Blog Post

Safety measures from March

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’m here for you.

I hope this post was informative. Again, my goal is to let loose and have fun during our sessions in 2020-2021. Thanks for making it through to the end!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *