As someone who specializes in documentary family photography, the way I plan sessions with families is a little different from the typical “show up to a location and start shooting”. Showing up at a beautiful location in the hill country for your Hill Country family photos is just one small step in the process. But if you truly want documentary-style images that tell your family’s story there’s a lot more that goes into it.
Planning out activities for your Hill Country Family Photos can take your photos from stiff and posed to full of life and moments you hold near and dear to your heart!
Treat the session as if you are going on a family hike to explore a new (or a favorite) part of the hill country. What kind of things would you pack? What would your children want to do?
Think of it as an adventure first and foremost, not a photoshoot.
Having trouble envisioning what that looks like? I know, once you’re set on the idea of a photoshoot it’s hard to imagine. I’ve learned some tips and tricks that can help make sure you get the meaningful images you dream of! Take what you want from this list and you will get some of your favorite photos of all time.
Questions to ask yourself when planning your Hill Country Family Photos
Whenever you book with me the first thing I do is send over a ‘getting to know you’ questionnaire. This questionnaire helps me learn all about what it is you love most about this season of life, the unique personalities your family members have, and how I can help bring your own story to life through your images. I won’t give you the full questionnaire right now but I will give you some questions you can ask yourself when you are brainstorming over your family session!
- Imagine the perfect Saturday. You have nowhere to be and the weather is amazing. You know you want to spend time outdoors as a family. What would you do? From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. Write it out!
- What is a way for your family to spend quality time together outdoors? What would everyone love to do together?
- Is there anything specific about the hill country that your children enjoy? Maybe they love splashing in the river, looking at different rocks, or hunting for special bugs.
- If you were to take your child’s lead and play pretend together what would you create or imagine?
Activity Ideas for a Hill Country Family Photos
Now that you have answered the questions above you should have some general ideas specific to you and your family. This list will be activities that the list you made above can easily align with. Creating an awesome experience for your family. And a way for me to document all of you doing what you do best! Loving and having fun with each other!
- A family picnic. You can be as elaborate or as simple as you want with this one. All you need is a sweet blanket to lay on the ground and some of your family’s favorite snacks. A picnic in the middle of a session is also a great way to keep little kids happy! I personally love this blanket for picnics.
- Playing in a river. The Hill Country is home to so many beautiful rivers. We can find a shallow area for your family to walk and splash around in. Looking for fish and other creatures and enjoying a classic outdoor Texas adventure. Take it to the next level and rent some kayaks or paddleboards!
- Flying a kite. A fun and memorable activity to do on a windy day!
- Hunt for dinosaur tracks. There are a few places that I know of where you can see dinosaur tracks! It’s so fun to find the tracks and imagine what it was like when dinosaurs roamed the hill country.
- Hike and explore! Find a hiking trail you are excited about, let the kids lead the way, and see what happens. Explore the different trees, look for special rocks, and carry someone on your shoulders!
- Find shapes in the clouds. Another great reason to bring a picnic blanket. Lay down as a family and find shapes in the clouds!
- Play games like tag, follow the leader, or red light green light. All of these games are super simple and will help your family be fully present together. And the photos I get when families play games like this are always so good!
- Hammock hangs. Bring a camping hammock, find the perfect spot and lounge in a hammock together!
- Rent an Airbnb and make it a weekend-long adventure! Planning a weekend getaway with your family and scheduling your family session to document the occasion makes for unique photos.
How to make sure your activities flow well with your photo session
Now we have an idea of what kind of experience you’re going for. Let’s make sure your photos look great as well!
- Make sure you can be hands-free. I can’t tell you how many times someone has shown up with a reusable grocery bag full of things that ended up weighing us down. We would set the bag down, take photos then have to backtrack to pick it up again. If you are worried about carrying a bag around you won’t be able to hug or pick up your loved ones! If you need to bring anything, bring a backpack you’re stoked to be photographed in.So we don’t have to worry about setting it down and you can still be hands-free.
- If there’s anything your child will want to play with while we’re out, like a toy car or a stuffed animal, bring it! If you think it will help keep them excited and happy and you don’t mind it being in a few photos then please bring it.
- Snacks help. Sometimes taking a mid-session snack break can make all the difference. So bring your kid’s fave snacks! If you don’t have a way to carry the snacks I am happy to put them in my backpack for you.
- What to wear – When you book with me you will receive a full ‘what to wear guide’. Full of tips and tricks to help make sure your outfits don’t distract from the emotion or story of your images. My main tips are to wear neutral colors. And that doesn’t just mean grey or beige, there are neutral tones for any color! Avoid clashing patterns or anything ‘loud’ and distracting like graphic tees or huge logos. Dress for the weather and location. If we’re hiking, I would avoid heels or men’s dress shoes with slick bottoms. The guide you receive after booking is a lot more in-depth but those are my biggest tips for you!
- Let your kids be kids. If they get a little dirty, that’s okay! If they start to run around or be wild, let them! I understand that you may need to pull them aside and console or talk to them. If that happens I will photograph someone or something else so you can do that. Please know that this photo session is not the time for them to be perfect! I want them to have fun, and be themselves and we will follow their lead.
- Fill out the questionnaire. Whenever you book with me the first thing I do is send over a getting to know you questionnaire. This questionnaire seems like a small thing but it makes a huge difference in the way I help you plan your session and photograph your family! If you truly want documentary photos that become your favorite photos of all time then this questionnaire will help make that happen.
- Have fun planning with me! I love when families get excited about planning out their sessions. It can be whatever you want it to be! I have a lot of ideas and am always stoked to brainstorm. If you have fun planning with me and trust my process, I promise you will have a great experience and get photos you hold near and dear to your heart. My goal is always to help people spend more quality time with those they love. Helping plan a great experience for you to enjoy as a family together instead of just planning a regular ol’ family photo shoot is one way I can do that.
Can you picture it now? A new favorite memory with your loved ones AND photos that document it all?
If you’re ready to start planning your own Hill Country Family Photo Session, then head over to my contact page and let’s get started. If you want more info on pricing and packages for my family sessions head to this page.