Archive for 'Children'

Gilbert AZ At Home Photographer_0007So, Mondays suck. At least for most people. But not for Roman. Roman is hugely obsessed with garbage trucks, garbage men and all things refuse, recycling & rubbish, making Mondays (the day his family’s trash gets collected by the Town of Gilbert) the best day of the week. And, once a month, bulk trash pickup makes them even bigger and more exciting than regular pick up days. I had the pleasure of meeting Roman, his family & some awesome workers from the town a couple weeks ago when Roman was surprised with a big treat! Martin, the driver with Roman’s route stopped by with gifts & let Roman up in the truck and showed him how to pick up his can! He was as excited as gifts on Christmas morning or being surprised with a trip to Disneyland!

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Splash Pad Photographer Gilbert AZ Kristen Carter PhotographyMiss S is such a cutie and her parents wanted a fun way to take her birthday photos this year, so we headed to a splash pad in Gilbert for some “splashy splashy” as she calls it! read more

Gilbert AZ Baby Child Photographer Kristen Carter Photography_0017Baby sessions don’t have a particular time minimum or maximum and we go with their flow, but in 15 minutes, I captured so many expressions and moments to mark Mr. A’s 6 month milestone, that we were done. 15 minutes of seriously adorable open mouthed smiles from one of the happiest babies I’ve ever photographed. I had spoken to mom in our pre-session consult and we planned our session around his happiest time of the day. This is just one way we try to stack odds in our favor when photographing little ones. Sometimes, no matter how much we plan and prep, babies aren’t just having it. Thankfully, this was not one of those times. Little A was giggling, grinning and interacting like a professional model! His open mouth smile had Mom & Gramma loving each photo even more than the previous one. Oh, and the feet! When he grabbed his toes and starting munching while laughing, we couldn’t contain ourselves, we were giggling as much as he was. Of course, I had to get mama in the photos too, and I love her smile so much!!  read more

A sunny spring day in Gilbert AZ + 10 families + 1 photographer + non-profit organization geared toward supporting breastfeeding moms = $700 raised! I had the pleasure of partnering with the Arizona Breastfeeding Bag Project for their annual Spring fundraiser and it was a huge success! We spaced the 20 minute petite sessions throughout the day, in half hour blocks and set up the tent for check-in at the park area of the Riparian Preserve. Families were able to check in with the amazing Nikki, learn more about the project if they weren’t familiar already and get ready for photos without feeling rushed. A beautiful day, the flowers & trees blooming around us and lots of happy kiddos! Some moms decided to capture their breastfeeding relationship in photos, and others decided to play; either way, we got lots of moms (and one dad) in photos with their little ones. We wandered throughout the park, finding great light at every turn and any point of the day, capturing some sweet moments for these families. In addition to their session, each family receives a Mini Memory Brag Book, which I greatly enjoyed designing. Take a look at all the sweet designs next to each other, I can’t wait to get them printed and in their hands! In no particular order, my top 5 moments from the day: 1) Little dude in full superhero costume. I didn’t learn his real name until a hour after our session. He told me his name was “Robin”. 2) Laughing when a little guy’s pants got too wet and fell off! 3) The reaction of a few babies to my furry rug. Some loved it, and kept petting it, but one guy refused to let his hands touch it! 4) Laying on the grass on lunch break, staring at the sky with Nikki’s 3 year old. He became my buddy. 5) Creating memories for amazing families! And watching beautiful mommies enjoying the time with their little ones.


Miss A celebrates her 1st birthday next month, and her parents (and auntie) wanted to use some of our session photos for her invitations and decorations, so technically she’s only 11 months in these photos, shhh…. We had a blast! Her party is Mary Poppins themed, and mom found this amazing outfit on etsy to coordinate. The location is a gorgeous historical building in my hometown of Modesto and is open to the public during certain hours (for tours and visiting), and they were gracious enough to let us use the grounds and side of the mansion for our session. Isn’t it just perfect? A little bit of Merry Old England in sunny California. First birthday sessions are always exciting because every baby is different; some can sit, some stand, some will walk a few steps and sometimes, they take off running. Miss A was confident taking steps while holding on to daddy’s hand or a wall, but would freeze as soon as she was on her own. We had hoped that *maybe* she’d take her first steps in front of my camera, but all we got was one shaky step and a plop on the ground even with mama bribing her with a cell phone (baby’s favorite toy!). The session ended with an entertaining cake smash. Grandma picked up cupcakes from a local bakery and Miss A was dressed in a cute tutu & matching onesie, and everyone was ready for a smashing good time. Ha! She proved us all wrong. Not all babies appreciate super sweet frosting or the foreign texture on their hands. Dad helped her out by eating the frosting, Mom broke it up into pieces and fed it to her, making for a happy baby! I especially love the photo of her serious face covered in frosting. So cute! Happy Birthday Miss A!

First birthday photos celebrate a big milestone for a child (and his family)! It means the tiny baby stage has passed and the toddler stage is fast approaching. Mr K has been part of the “Watch Me Grow” plan, and I’ve been lucky enough to create his newborn photos3 month photos, and family photos at 9 months. Now, he’s a year old and taking on the world! He not only walks, but runs everywhere, has absolutely no fear of anything and has THE loudest belly laugh I’ve ever heard come out such a little body. We opted out of a typical cake smash session and decided instead to meet at Power Ranch’s Clubhouse area for some playtime in the grass and on the playground. The best part of these sessions is getting the natural smiles and laughter out of the kids because they are just having so much fun. We run, chase, play, tickle and chase some more. I swear that sometimes toddler sessions are better than going to the gym with a trainer! Throw in a big sister who’s less than 2 years older and we’ve got an awesome morning of photos. The funniest part of the session was when Mr K was determined to climb up the caterpillar ladder. (My kids call it that, its the curved climbing ladder.) He didn’t want anyone to help him, just to do it himself. He managed to get up on the first rung and then got stuck on his knees, hands on the 2nd rung. He still refused any and all help, Mr Independent. After a few seconds of struggling with leg positions, and a little boost from mama, he got free, and ran off as happy as could be! And, as a bonus for being extra good, little man got his usual snack and big sister got a super good pink donut! She was in heaven!

I’m part of an awesome group of photographers who support, inspire and entertain each other through the wonder of social media. We are spread out all over the US (and Canada), and when one member suggested that we do a monthly blog circle, I was excited. So for the next 12 months, we will be interpreting a new theme of “What ________ looks like” to each of us. The theme varies month to month and once you finish reading one photographer’s blog (and adoring all of their photos, you click on to the next one!) Its a fun NEW way to expand our stories and creativity each month. I plan on using the blog circle to write a little more about my family life, and not just about clients and how cute their sweet babies are. 😉 This first month’s theme is “What New Looks Like”….

January always starts out so new. A new year, new goals, new adventures. A fresh start, a clean slate. So it’s only appropriate for someone to start a new business venture in January (and this time, its not me). My oldest daughter is 10 and has been wanting to earn her own spending money for a while now. Combine that with an insatiable love of baking, and my little entrepreneur came up with “Doggy Treats, Puppy Sweets,” baking “pup-cakes” for family & friends’ dogs. Baked like real cupcakes, they use ingredients safe for dogs. She took on the task of researching ingredients, budgeting her business expenses vs profits, doing the shopping (using the Christmas money given to her by grandma), and deciding on her recipes. Apron on, she started baking; our dogs were thrilled!

It fills my heart with joy to see her so immersed in something she truly enjoys and really only needs my assistance once or twice through the process. The rhythm of the mixer, the giggling of sisters decorating the finished treats, music to a mom’s ears. I am in awe of how fast life has gone by, my children growing up before my eyes. In the everyday routine of things, there are moments that I just stop, catch myself thinking of it. Remembering the chubby little fingers trying to wipe the icing off the spoon when I’d set them up on the counter to “help” as toddlers. Having to pull up a chair or stepstool just so she could reach the counter and stir a bowl. Listening to a thousand questions as I cook dinner, and trying my best to remain patient and answer them all. Now, here she is, doing it all herself. She happily jots orders down in her little notebook and fulfills her orders over the weekend. I don’t know how long this venture will last, but for now, its new, its fun and she is very excited about it all.

Go check out the next step in our blog circle from my lovely friend Christine, a wedding photographer:

Parents are often concerned that their children will “act out” at a photo session, or they tell me that theirs is “spirited” or “a handful”. I say, “Let them be wild!”. I have kids, 3 in fact. And if you’ve met them, you know that they are by no means quiet. Or tame. They are hooligans. In the nicest sense of the word; They have energy and lots of it. Wild kids don’t phase me, and I truly embrace their active, silly, happy side at sessions, it shows off their true personality! But, in order to get great photos, it has to be controlled chaos. Here are 5 tips to how I keep active kids engaged in the session and still get the photos my clients love!

Kristen Carter Photography Tips for Working With Active Kids

Meet my girls. These are the out-takes to their “Sister” session, but this is life with them.


1.) Praise, not criticism- Use positive reinforcement when they are doing the things you ask them to do. Some people call this bribery, I call it magic! LOL. Depending on the age & personality of the child, it might be a verbal reward like “good job”, or “you’re doing awesome”. Others respond better to high-fives and small candies. Soon they realize that by doing the things we are asking (“Sit there for a second,” “Pretend you like your sister,” “Show me your craziest smile!”) they will earn a reward. When they choose not to follow directions, they don’t earn the reward, but we also won’t give negative responses (“Be good or no treat,” “If you don’t do this, then you’ll be in trouble.”) Experience has shown that by threatening a time-out, or criticizing them, they’ll shut down and not want to participate at all in photos. The goal is a happy experience with beautiful photos to remember it by!

Kristen Carter Photography Tips for Working With Active Kids

This sweet 2 year old was asking me, “Please?” because he knew I had candy in my pocket.


2.) Keep their attention- Kids (and some adults) have short attention spans. Keep things moving, always changing and only focus on one set or pose for a short amount of time. During sessions, I’ll often hop from spot to spot to encourage energy and fun. We might start on the steps, snap a few photos, then move to a nearby rock. We can dance, jump, wiggle and play, snap more photos and then move on. It may seem like we are all over and not really getting anything from it, but I promise, experience has taught me how to work quickly. If I didn’t get the photo that I had imagined in my head the first time around, I’ll often take them back to an earlier spot and try again. The younger the children involved, the less time we have to keep their attention and cooperation. I loved the compliment from a dad this week, “Thanks for keeping things short and sweet. We love the photos and appreciate that you didn’t drag out our session for hours just because you can.”

Kristen Carter Photography Tips for Working With Active Kids

Pretend play is a great way to keep their attention.


3.) Take breaks- Letting the kids know our expectations up front and offering them short breaks in between poses/sets is a fabulous way to contain their energy and maintain a semblance of control in a session. I make it a “deal” between us. When we are talking about what we will be doing, I usually give the older kids a heads up like this: “So, here’s the plan guys. We’re gonna sit here for a few minutes, take some great photos with fun smiles, then we can run around the grassy area for a few minutes. Deal?” They’ll usually agree and that gives me the opportunity to tell them while we’re shooting, “Hey, remember our deal! A couple more photos then its play time!” When they feel like there’s an end in sight, its not overwhelming for them to listen and cooperate. If the kids are too little to agree to your deal, they still need breaks. Its a lot of stimulation for them when you’re whistling or shaking a rattle to get their attention. Give snuggle/quiet time breaks. (Those are also my favorite moments for sweet candids with no one looking at the camera)

Kristen Carter Photography Tips for Working With Active Kids

Silly moments like this happen in the breaks between poses/locations.


4.) Embrace their energy- If I could bottle up my 3 year old’s energy and sell it, I’d retire. That boy can run circles for hours without end. We use this to our advantage at photo sessions by keeping our energy exciting and fun. Lots of giggling, playing, and silly songs. Ring-around-the-rosy, leap frog, freeze tag & red light/green light are great tools to keep kids playing but get them to be in the position/area/setup that you want. Plus, the candids of kids falling down and chuckling are seriously adorable! After we’ve finished all the posed set-ups, I’ll bring out the bubble machine, sidewalk chalk, or their favorite toys and then just let them play. No rules, no “hey, look at the camera,” just being kids.

Kristen Carter Photography Tips for Working With Active Kids

Bubbles are an awesome treat after a fun family session!


5.) Don’t stress!- The biggest tip I can give is to go with the flow. As a parent, this is really hard sometimes. You want to control the kids, make sure they’re smiling, and just get the photos done. As a photographer, I want to make sure the photos are fabulous, artistic and fulfill a vision that my client and I have discussed. Putting too much pressure on the kids though will result in a fake smile or worse, sadness. If parents relax, enjoy the time together and just BE in the moment with their family, they cherish the images we create. If, no matter what we do, its just not working, then worst case scenario is that we will reschedule our session. This doesn’t happen often, and if it does, its not because a child is running around and being crazy; its because they are having a bad day. Could be that they are getting sick, didn’t sleep well, or are uncomfortable in their clothes/setting/life in general. Even adults have an “off” day. I would rather pick another day and try again than make a child miserable by forcing them to take photos when they don’t want to. We will try our best to turn their frown upside down, but if its not working, we try again.

Kristen Carter Photography Tips for Working With Active Kids

This little one was not happy when we first started our session. But a snack break and some snuggles turned her mood around!


Keep in mind that these are just general ideas, every child is unique; some kids are really shy & quiet, so I’ll match my energy to theirs by being softer and gentler in my tones and requests. If a boy jumps up, gives me a high five and tells me his name with no prompting, I’m more likely to be louder, & crazier to match his energy. In our pre-session consult, I’ll ask parents about their kids to get an idea of who they are and what their personalities are like before meeting them, adds an extra touch of care to our sessions. That’s when I’m also likely to discover if their kids have any quirks or need special assistance in our sessions. To schedule your own session or ask a question, use the “Contact” button above!

<3 Kristen


When Danielle contacted me last year and asked if I took candid photos, including “2 year old tantrums or adolescent boy smirks”, I laughed and assured her that I was game for anything! She wanted a session that showed each of her kids’ personalities just as they were at that moment in their lives. Last year’s session was super fun, set in the desert and full of laughs & dirt/rock throwing, but that’s a story for another day. This year, we discussed a green space, somewhere open that the kids could run, be silly, and again, just be themselves. We settled on Freestone Park in Gilbert and after a last minute reschedule due to a crazy high temp of 95* on our original date, got together this past weekend to capture some amazing images! The water was sparkling, the sun was shimmering through the trees and their clothing fit the casual style of their session. Couldn’t be better! But I think the best part about this family is that they know that while I’ll direct them a little bit and pose here and there for what we call the “gramma photos” (you know, the ones that gramma loves? where everyone is lined up and looking at the camera smiling?), for the most part, we just have fun and play the entire session! Want to climb a tree? Sure. Feel like jumping across the bridge? Absolutely! Done with my requests and really just want to blow bubbles? Let’s do it and I’ll be ready to photograph it as it happens!

At our view & order appointment this morning, they decided to replace the gorgeous canvas storyboards that we created last year (and move those elsewhere in the house), and I couldn’t be more thrilled for them to look at these beautiful little faces up on the wall every day. It struck me as we were examining last year’s images just how much the kids have grown. Seeing their personalities from the previous session preserved for the last year and knowing how different they already are just cements how important it is to print and display your photos. The kids get to walk past these photos every day and see just how much they are loved and how flippin’ fun their family is!! And that’s pretty cool.

PS- I had a hard time narrowing it down for this post, so there’s a boatload of photos below! Enjoy!!

A friend in Gilbert messaged me this past Spring asking for a donation to her “Bids for Boobs” auction benefiting the Susan G Komen 3-Day Walk. I was more than happy to gift her a session with canvas in order to help her cause! The auction night was a huge success, raising $2,279.00 from the generous donations & bidders. The winner of my donation set up her session for the fall and just happened to have 3 of the most adorable kiddos I’ve worked with, with personalities as big as their smiles! The littlest had just woken up from a nap and wasn’t too sure about me at first, but he warmed up; the older two were more than happy to show off some sweet moves and hilarious faces right off the bat. The best part of a session is when kids are comfortable enough to truly be themselves: wild, crazy and awesome.

Since they won the auction prize, they got to choose their favorite image to hang as a canvas. It was no surprise to me that they selected the one of the 3 kids standing in the field holding hands. It showcases their sweet personalities perfectly and will be a beautiful addition to their walls for years to come.

Thankfully, my friend has reached her donation goal for her walk, but her partner could still use help. If you’d like to donate, you can do so at this link:

If I could pick up and move this location (& this family) to Gilbert, AZ I totally would. Filled with green trees & TONS of ivy, and those awesome wooden steps, I fell in love with this little corner of a park on my most recent visit to California. And this family, well, they are just awesome. The kids are adorable, hilarious and so fun to play with; mom & dad are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met and both have an awesome sense of humor. I think I smiled at our photo sessions as much as they did!! We always have a great time when we create their photos (we’ve been working together for 5 years now, crazy…) but I think these might just be my favorite photos of theirs. A session where they just enjoyed each others presence and truly lived in the moment to create something special… The kids played ring around the rosy, jumped up and down the steps, giggled & loved on mama and daddy.

I’m really excited to work with mom and put together an amazing wall display for their home! Its going to be gorgeous!!

For photographers curious on editing, this set (and the others from the same location) were edited using Jessica Drossin Textures “Autumn” overlay. Her entire line of textures are amazing for adding that extra “pop” to a set of photos.

Creative locations can bring out the best in a family session, especially when its somewhere that the kids are comfortable to run, play and be themselves. As frequent visitors to the Phoenix Zoo, the C family knew that the smiles we’d get in photos would be real ones and that the little Colombian town near the Andean Bear was a good fit for their bright, casual style! This session took place last year, when the kids were 2 & 3, usually the age that we just try to contain them to a specific space, but never actually assume any real control. Running, jumping, giggling, playing, way more fun to capture this age and get photos to remember all the little details. Plus, after we gave the kiddos their lollipop treat, we snuck mom & dad off to get a few photos of just them. Something that I highly encourage all parents do!