Avon beach Christmas family photo session

Here are some gorgeous photos from a Christmas jumper beach session at Avon Beach a couple of weeks ago. It was a rather chilly day, but it was so nice to spend some time getting to know this lovely family. I'll be photographing the Mum and Dad's wedding in April and I am already super excited about it!

I could spend this entire blog post chatting about how lovely this family were (and they really were!), but I wanted to talk instead about something very specific. Autism. 

Despite autism being something that is becoming more widely spoken about and accepted, I think that it is still something that those with autism, or indeed their families, can be a little self conscious of. Perhaps there is a member of your family with autism, and you would love to have family photos taken, but are worried or self conscious about how they will respond to being in front of the camera.

I am here to tell you that you don't need to worry! If you are open to having a chat about any special requirements for your photo session and you are realistic about your expectations, then there is absolutely no reason why you can't have a fun filled photo session with beautiful photographs to capture those treasured memories.

So, let's dive into a little bit more detail about how I can help make your photo experience fun instead of nerve-wracking and stressful!

Autism comes in many different shapes and sizes, so first of all, Tell Your Photographer what your child likes and dislikes!!! The more I know about a family situation, the easier and more fun I can make the experience. There are so many ways to adjust and tweak a photo session to accommodate for short attention spans, not wanting to make eye contact, being very shy, or anything else in between. This really goes for any photo session where children are involved, not just those with autism! I don't know about a special requirement for a particular child, then my instructions or my manner of speech may make them feel uncomfortable. If I know that your child likes being spoken to at the same height level, then I can do that no problem. The problems only come when I don't have all the facts.

Here are some tips and tricks for things we tried during this particular session.

1. Be realistic in your expectations.

By this I mean that, for example, if your child does not like making eye contact or smiling, you can't expect every photo to have eye contact and a smile. You know your child best and you know what they are capable of and what is too much, so try not to set your expectations so high that you will be disappointed with the end result.

2. Give yourself plenty of time.

Breaks are key with children in general and especially with big families. If you know that you have a child who is very shy, then a mini session of 20 minutes is probably not for you. If you want to book a mini because you like the location or the set up, then it may be a good idea to book two back to back slots, as it may take the first 20 minutes for your child to agree to have their photo taken!

3. Take lots of little breaks.

For these family photos, we limited the number of poses we would try and in between each one, there was time for a run around the beach. It was just a few minutes break, but that was all that was needed for the children to come back refreshed for a different pose. This 'free time' is also a great opportunity to grab some candid photos of the children just being themselves.

4. Make a game of it.

During our breaks between poses, we didn't just run riot (well, sometimes we did). To break up the posing time, the children were given little tasks, such as finding the prettiest shell in 5 minutes. This gave everyone a little break while the kids were shell hunting. The hunting itself gave opportunities for lovely candid photos. Plus, there are some seriously cute photos of the children showing off their precious shells at the end of the game!

5. Be clear with exactly what the plan is.

Right at the start of the session, I told the whole family that we would do 1 walking pose, 1 sitting pose and 1 standing pose, then photos with each child with their parents on their own. I said that we would do the '10 second smile' with each pose, then they should feel free to laugh, tickle each other, pull a silly face, swap places, or simply stop smiling. This worked really well, because I can take an awful lot of photos in 10 seconds. The bigger the group, the more tricky it is to get a photo of everyone looking and smiling at the same time, but 10 seconds gives plenty of opportunities. Then the silly photos after the smiles are a bonus, and are super fun, and often are the favourite photos!

6. Go for candid style photographs.

If you have a child who is shy or is not a fan of having their photo taken, you can opt for a more candid, natural style for your photo session. If smiling and laughing in a more 'posed' way is not going to work for your family, I am more than happy to simply observe and take photographs of you at play. My favourite photo from this beach session is a completely candid one of two of the sisters being hugged by their Mum. This was captured between 'poses' and is a very natural, organic moment. It shows the girls beauty and the love they have with their Mum. For me, it's better than any posed photo could be!

7. Know when to stop.

You know the limitations of your child better than your photographer does. Don't be afraid to call it a day, even if you've only been going for 15 minutes and you've booked an hours session. It's much better to get 15 minutes of great photo opportunities and then stop, rather than forcing it for another 45 minutes and getting grumpy kids. Grumpy kids = grumpy parents = grumpy faces in photos.

You can see the results for yourselves. This gorgeous family look perfect in their photos! There is a nice mix of posed and candid photos. We did short bursts of posing, mixed with tasks and games in between and in the end, the family ended up with lots of really lovely photos to choose from.

So, if you are nervous or think that your special requests will be awkward, or embarrassing, and you think that it's just not worth the stress, I can confidently tell you that you are wrong! Family photos do not have to be torture! They can be fun, natural and full of happiness. Some of the tricks we used in this family session might work, some might not. We can try new tricks. We can tailor your session to be exactly what you need it to be.

So, what are you waiting for??? Get a photo session booked in!!!