Ideas for a Summer Documentary Family Photo Session

boy runs smiling around merry-go-round
boy runs smiling around merry-go-round

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.

 

Summary:

 

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.

 

© Paula Gerein Photography 2024

All rights reserved.

Introducing Paula Gerein Photography and the Documentary Approach to Family Photography.

Family falls out of hammock
Family falls out of hammock

Introducing Paula Gerein Photography and the Documentary Approach to Family Photography

Hello, I’m Paula (she/her). I am so excited you are here and I cannot wait to introduce Documentary Family Photography and myself as a family photographer serving the Central Alberta, Canada region and beyond. Let’s get started.

 

Summary:

 

  1. Me, In a Nutshell
  2. How Documentary Family Photography is Different from Traditional Portraiture
  3. A Photographer with Experience
  4. Highest Respect for All Humans
  5. Is This for You?
  6. Client Review: “There is a brilliance in this way of documenting life”
  7. In Summary
  1. Me, in a nutshell

I have been described as someone with a quirky and somewhat dry sense of humour, a positive attitude, and a calming aura. After graduating university with a Commerce degree, my 20’s and 30’s were spent mostly in Europe chasing dreams and love, and that’s where I discovered that I wasn’t destined to climb the corporate ladder but I had an artist’s heart all along.

 

My very random facts

  • I love being outdoors and believe there is no such thing as bad weather, only badly dressed. Water and I are like magnets but I’m terrified of lake weeds and sea cucumbers.
  • Intimate live music performances send goosebumps down my spine and music plays 24/7 in my house. I’ve played the piano since I was 6 and my current favourite songs to play are cinematic moody ones.
  • I’m married to a Dutchman and we have 2 daughters and 2 cats.
  • My culinary guilty pleasures are Mr. Noodles, ketchup slurped straight from the little takeout packs, and peanut butter by the spoonful. I also get pretty excited anytime I find popcorn, prosecco, and deep-fried pickles.
  • I have an ongoing street photography project of discarded banana peels I find laying around. As a kid I thought it was hilarious when cartoon characters would slip on peels in the street and I guess the fascination has continued.

2. How Documentary Family Photography is Different from Traditional Portraiture

 

Remember Sears Portraits?

 

From the time I was little, posed family photography never really spoke to me. I remember my mom dressing up my sisters and I to go do our annual portrait at Sears and it was always a painful process. I usually had to wear something I didn’t love but had to wear anyway because it matched my sisters’ outfits. We had to make sure to spill nothing on the way to the studio, not make each other mad enough that someone would cry and have puffy eyes, and then we had to smile and pretend we loved each other. Ok, deep down we actually did love each other, but we were the classic, “best of friends, worst of enemies” and I didn’t want to have to unnaturally put my hand on my sister’s shoulder and tilt my head, attempting to look like perfect little angels. 

 

This is what I remember from those posed sessions – they were fake, they weren’t fun, and while they created a trail of family portraits I enjoy having to mark how we changed over the years, they do nothing to inspire memories and emotions in me.

 

When I first discovered the documentary family photography genre, my mind was blown. Whoa. This is family photography?! I was enthralled. I spent the following three days stuck behind my computer learning everything and anything I could about this approach to family photography that excited me. THIS. I thought. THIS is what family photography can and should be.

 

I want photographs that burst with expression of all the emotions and not just big cheesy smiles. I want to photograph a laugh as it explodes out of your mouth, coming straight from your belly. I want to photograph looks of disgust at poopy, overflowing diapers or from a child being told to eat their steamed broccoli for supper. I want to photograph tears of disappointment and frustration, from emotionally exhausted parents, toddlers, and teens. I want to photograph the way two bodies in love completely melt into each other when they embrace. I want it ALL.

 

All of this life, this beautifully, messy, perfectly imperfect life. THIS is what we can capture together with documentary family photo sessions.

sisters laughing and playing in lake water by paula gerein photography

3. A Photographer with Experience

 

Since that magical time of discovery, I’ve gone on to do over 125 documentary family photo sessions directly for families and also for non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Muscular Dystrophy Canada, Kids with Cancer Society, and others.

 

Family photo sessions have covered life in the city, on the farm, camping in the mountains, vacationing at the lake. I’ve photographed newborns, those nearing end-of-life, extended family reunions and weekends together, teens who let their parents hang out with them, wild and crazy little ones, tame and tired not-so-little ones. Variety is the spice of life. At the end of the day, we are documenting life and whether there is a special purpose for hiring a photographer on a special day, or whether you want a photographer to help create photographs as family mementos, there is space for it all.

 

So many beautiful families; so many life moments

Parents hugging on front porch - from an Edmonton Family Photographer

4. Highest Respect for All Humans

 

I work very hard to teach my kids to have the highest respect for all humans. I firmly believe everyone(!) deserves respect regardless of their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, social status, political leanings, or opinion. A kind smile and a touch of understanding can go a long way, for you have no idea of the path the stranger next to you is navigating. Some might call this a diversity and inclusion statement, but I like to say that no matter who you are, you’ve got a safe place with me.

5. Is This for You?

 

If you’ve found your way here, then maybe you’re like me and documentary family photography was the thing you didn’t know you were looking for until you found it.

 

There could be a lot of reasons why someone is attracted to this genre of family photography:

 

  • You’re a sentimental kind of person who feels like you’ve won the lottery of life. You finish the day whispering to yourself, “How did I get so lucky?”, and you want photographs which will always bring you back to this moment in time.

Or…

 

  • You’re someone who greets life with bandaids, dirty fingernails, and a fabulous sense of humour and recognize that there is zero need to impersonate perfection.

Or…

 

  • Maybe your crew is a little wild and the idea of attempting a posed family portrait equates to the thought of fingernails running down a blackboard. You just want to have photos of your family while you are wild and free and having fun.

Or…

 

  • You’re an art lover who wants something beautiful and unique to only you. Photographs that are more art than snapshot; photographs that pull you in.
A girl swings outside on a beautiful summer day

6. Client Review: “There is a brilliance in this way of documenting life”

 

From Nancy, who lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her two teens:

 

The photographs Paula took of our family captured so many aspects of our daily life that just don’t get documented… knowing glances, moments of affection, unexpected hilarity, and the ‘just being’. Having these photos that remind me of what life ‘feels like’ is an incredible keepsake. 

 

Life is full and busy and we move from one thing to the next, often without appreciating or even noticing the myriad of special things that happen in any given day. The time spent with Paula gave us an opportunity to slow down and appreciate those things and the photographs will forever serve as an incredible reminder.

 

There is a brilliance in this way of documenting life. It was special for our family but it has also been lovely to share the photos with other people in our lives, welcoming them into our everyday. It is a wonderful thing to be seen.

7. In Summary

 

For me, photography is a form of time travel, bringing stories and loved ones vividly back to life, making me smile with appreciation of the experiences I’ve had and inspired for things yet to come. This is what I want my photography to give to you.

 

Edmonton, Canada is where I have built my home and business yet wanderlust still runs strongly through my veins and I will eagerly go anywhere.

 

Reach out anytime if you would like to talk. I would love to hear from you!

Related Posts

OH HEY!

Once a month I send a fun email with quirky musings and “insider” specials. Join us!

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.

 

© Paula Gerein Photography 2024

All rights reserved.