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Ideas for a Summer Documentary Family Photo Session

Summer is the perfect time for a documentary family photo session. With long days, beautiful weather, and everyone in a relaxed mood, you can capture genuine, heartfelt moments when everyone is having those “this is the best day ever” kind of days. Whether you’re looking to freeze a day at the park or an evening barbecue, this blog post will guide you through some fantastic ideas for a summer photo session that will resonate with your family and make for timeless memories.




Introduction: The Magic of Summer Photo Sessions

  1. Embrace the Great Outdoors
  2. Capture a Day in the Life
  3. Family Traditions and Activities
  4. Seasonal Settings and Themes
  5. Spontaneous Moments and Candid Shots
  6. Incorporate Pets and Extended Family
  7. Tips for a Successful Summer Photo Session

Conclusion: Make Your Summer Memories Last

Introduction: The Magic of Summer Photo Sessions


Summer brings a special kind of magic. The warm sunlight, vibrant nature, and laid-back vibes create the perfect setting for capturing your family’s story. As someone who loves documenting real-life moments, I’ve found that summer photo sessions often yield the most authentic and cherished images. Let’s dive into some creative ideas that will help you make the most of your summer documentary family photo session.

  1. Embrace the Great Outdoors

One of the best parts of summer is the ability to spend time outside. From parks and beaches to forests and lakes, Edmonton and central Alberta are brimming with picturesque locations. Here are some outdoor ideas:


  • Picnic in the Park: Set up a blanket, bring some snacks, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon in a local park. Capture the joy of your family playing games, eating together, and simply enjoying each other’s company. Don’t forget to document the inevitable moment when someone spills juice all over the picnic blanket. Classic.


  • Beach Day: Head to a nearby lake for a fun-filled day of swimming, sandcastle building, and sunbathing. The candid moments of kids splashing in the water and parents relaxing on the shore make for beautiful, natural photos. Plus, nothing says “perfect family moment” like trying to get sand out of everyone’s swimsuits.


Hiking Adventure: Explore the stunning trails around Edmonton. Document your family’s adventure as you hike through lush forests, stop for scenic views, and enjoy the beauty of nature. And by “enjoy,” I mean “listen to the kids complain about the uphill climb and the mosquitoes.” Ah, nature.

sisters laughing and playing in lake water by paula gerein photography
  1. Capture a Day in the Life

Documentary photography is all about telling a story. Why not capture a typical summer day in your family’s life? This approach provides a genuine glimpse into your daily routines and interactions. Here’s how:


  • Morning Routine: Start the session with your family’s morning activities – making breakfast, getting ready, and those cozy moments over coffee. The chaos of everyone fighting for the bathroom is just part of the charm.


  • Afternoon Play: Move on to the children’s playtime, whether it’s at home or at a local playground. Capture the laughter, the games, and the little adventures they embark on. Also, the moment when someone inevitably cries because they lost at tag.


  • Evening Wind-Down: Finish with your evening rituals – family dinner, storytime, or an outdoor movie night in your backyard. These everyday moments are often the most precious and memorable. And let’s be honest, it’s always fun to see who falls asleep first during storytime (hint: it’s usually the parents).
Siblings swing in backyard - from an Edmonton Family Photographer
  1. Family Traditions and Activities

Highlighting your unique family traditions and activities can make your photo session truly special. Think about what your family loves to do together:


  • Gardening Together: If your family enjoys gardening, document the process of planting, watering, and harvesting. The interactions and teamwork involved can create a touching narrative. Plus, you’ll get to capture the kids’ faces when they realize they’ve been weeding for an hour.


  • Cooking and Baking: Capture the chaos and fun of cooking a meal together, maybe over a bonfire or skewers for the BBQ! From preparing ingredients to enjoying the final dish, these moments are filled with genuine expressions and interactions. And nothing beats the candid shots of flour fights and the look of disappointment when someone burns the dessert.


  • Sports and Hobbies: Whether it’s a game of soccer in the backyard, a bike ride through the neighborhood, or a shared hobby like painting or playing music, these activities can make for dynamic and engaging photos. Especially when Dad tries to show off his soccer skills and ends up tripping over the ball. Priceless.
Parents hugging on front porch - from an Edmonton Family Photographer
  1. Seasonal Settings and Themes

Leverage the beauty of the summer season by incorporating seasonal settings and themes into your photo session:


  • Sunflower Fields and Gardens: Visit local sunflower fields or botanical gardens. The vibrant colors and natural settings mean tones of things to look at. Just be prepared for the kids to complain about how “boring” flowers are after five minutes.


  • Summer Festivals: Document your family enjoying a local summer festival or fair. The lively atmosphere, colorful decorations, and joyful moments can add a unique flair to your photos. And let’s not forget the classic shot of everyone covered in sticky cotton candy and trying to win a giant stuffed animal.


  • Evening Bonfires: Capture the warmth and coziness of an evening bonfire. The glow of the fire, roasting marshmallows, and storytelling create an intimate and magical ambiance. Plus, the bonus of snapping that inevitable moment when someone sets their marshmallow on fire and panics.
  1. Spontaneous Moments and Candid Shots

Some of the best photos come from unplanned, spontaneous moments.


  • Unscripted Play: Let your children play freely without posing. These natural moments of joy, curiosity, and creativity make for heartfelt and genuine images. Plus, you’ll get to see what mischief they get into when they think no one’s watching.
  • Everyday Joy: Sometimes, the simplest moments – like a family walk, a shared ice cream, or a quiet cuddle – can be the most meaningful and beautiful. Especially the cuddle part, when everyone’s exhausted from all the fun and just happy to be together.
  1. Incorporate Pets and Extended Family

Pets are part of the family too, and including them in your photo session can add an extra layer of fun and warmth:


  • Pet-Friendly Activities: Spend some time playing with your pets, whether it’s a game of fetch, a walk in the park, or simply cuddling at home.
  • Extended Family Gatherings: If you’re having a family reunion or a get-together with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, capture these multi-generational interactions. They showcase the love and connection within your extended family and trust me, these moments really will be valuable as elders age and little ones haven’t yet formed memories.
Child sits in grass with chickens - from an Edmonton Family Photographer
  1. Tips for a Successful Summer Photo Session

To make the most of your summer photo session, keep these tips in mind:


  • Choose the Right Time: Simply schedule your session during the time of day your family enjoys most! Early birds or night owls, we can accommodate everyone.
  • Dress Comfortably: Opt for comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing that reflects you. Nothing more, nothing less. Coordinating and dressing up is absolutely unnecessary.
  • Stick Together: In any session we can always fly by the seat of our pants, but try to realize that if you are wanting photos of your family together, then you will need activities that keep you together.
  • Relax and Be Yourselves: The best photos come when you’re relaxed and enjoying the moment. Trust your photographer to capture the magic. And remember, it’s okay if things don’t go perfectly – sometimes the best memories come from the unexpected moments.

Conclusion: Make Your Summer Memories Last


A summer documentary family photo session is more than just taking pictures; it’s about capturing the essence of your family’s life and the unique moments that define it. From outdoor adventures and daily routines to special traditions and spontaneous joy, these ideas will help you create a timeless visual story of your family’s summer.


Book Your Session Today


Ready to capture your family’s summer story? Book your documentary family photo session today and let’s create beautiful, lasting memories together. Reach out by clicking “Get in Touch” below, or visit my website to schedule your session and learn more about the session offerings. I can’t wait to be part of your family’s journey.

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Boy makes a silly face - from an Edmonton Family Photographer

Paula Gerein Photography

Documentary photography for families and businesses of Edmonton and Central Alberta, Canada. Available for travel.


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