Whether you’re photographing your own family or someone else’s, real family photos begin with you. I literally have to set a reminder on my phone to remind to me wrap up the pre-shoot cuppa and chat because we’re running out of sunlight. It’s like catching up with old friends. The conversation flows. Time passes quickly. I’m not sure about you but when you can drive to a shoot genuinely excited to catch up with a family you’ve photographed before, I think you have it made. To see how they’re grown and changed. To just be in their company again and be moved by their love for one another. This doesn’t feel like work.

It’s taken me a few years to realise that this is the ultimate. I mean, you have other measures of success and you try them all on for size until you find what fits for you. This thing that I’ve found is comfy as an old sweater. When you show up yourself feeling that comfortable and relaxed, the people you’re photographing can’t help but feel at ease too. They relax. The photos are effortless and real and fun because you’re photographing the real them. Not the ‘them’ that showed up to have photos taken.

The best way to get real family photos if you’re looking for a photographer is: find someone you could be friends with. If you’re taking photos of your own family and want those natural-looking shots, make the session fun and involve your kids in the photo making process. They will feel less like they have to ‘perform’ and more like they’re valuable because you’ve decided to let them in on the magic.

Welcome to an afternoon with the Phillips’ family. We drank tea in their kitchen before heading outside to capture a perfect afternoon in their life. Graham had just got home from work. Jo had been out too. There was no mad-dash for a carefully chosen wardrobe. Just them, their amazing girls, and an average afternoon out of their ordinary beautiful life.

I live for this. And for meeting people like them.

If you too, would like to make some real family photos but you’re unsure where to start, I have an amazing FREE resource for you. It’s called The Cheese-Free Photo Challenge Workbook and it’s my top 5 step-by-step tips and tricks to quickly take your photos from sad face emoji to the clapping hands’ emoji. You can grab it here. (Even the pros have downloaded it and loved it.)