Archive for 'Child Sessions'

Mom emailed me and her opening line was, “My girls need updated photos and I love your photos, lighting, and backgrounds….you took casual photos at AZ Goat Yoga and I knew you fit with my kids.” Highest compliment I can get is someone seeing me doing my thing and deciding to trust me with their family’s portraits. During our pre-session consult I learned that it had been a few years since the girls had photos together, so it was important to capture who they each are at this stage in life as well as who they are to each other. Mom wanted casual, fun, and true to them. We decided on the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert as the location, which as luck had it was full of desert wildflowers and the forecast called for beautiful weather. What I love most about the Riparian Preserve is that there is such a variety of backgrounds to choose from. It varies from full desert with cactus, rocks and dirt, to a beautiful overgrown path with a waterfall and mini river. Plus, the landscape changes seasonally creating a unique setting for each family we take there. We started at the ever-popular “climbing tree” and wandered the trails and paths from there. These girls truly love each other, and enjoy each other’s company. There were no arguments, attitude or snark despite the age difference, just lots of hugs, smiles, laughter and a few silly faces. It was an enjoyable afternoon and we all left with huge smiles! At our order appointment, they had a hard time narrowing down their favorites and ended up selecting some wall art, a couple books and an absolutely breath-taking leather bound album that the family will cherish for generations. Enjoy this peek into a Sister Session set at the Riparian Preserve (because I couldn’t narrow it down for the blog post either)

To schedule a consultation for a children’s, teen or family session, use the “Contact” tab above!

Miss M has grown into a spunky, busy & bright little girl over her first year! We knew that containing her in a studio setting for a cake smash just wouldn’t work, so her mama and I decided on an outdoor, summer themed Watermelon Smash! Set in her grandparents backyard, we gave her space to crawl/walk around, play and fully be herself. (With the pool nearby, full caution and safety measures were observed at all times) She hung out in the shade, wandered around the sidewalk, refused to touch grass (like shuddered at the thought of it actually), and we created some beautiful portraits. Then, we sliced up a personal sized watermelon to see what she thought about it! A little apprehensive at first, she soon figured out just how tasty a cold slice of melon is on a warm summer’s day. (It also doubles as a fancy hat!) Just as delicious as a cake smash, but unique to her Summer birthday. Her parents also wanted to use the photo session to make a HUGE announcement!! Scroll through the photos to see what Miss M had to say!

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Candid kid photo with smiling twinsIf, like most children, yours hate sitting still for longer than 2.2 seconds or posing for the camera, have no worries or fears for your photo session. We will work together to get beautiful photos of your children or family. When kids don’t want to cooperate, sit & pose, we roll with it. It is my job to create situations where your child can relax and candidly bring out their personalities. Many times parents end up ordering the candid personality shots instead of the posed ones, but there are times that you want the “looking at the camera, smiling, true personality shining” photo. The one that makes you say, “Yes! This is my child, right here, right now.” read more

Your session is right around the corner! We’ve had our consultation, discussed the details, and I may have been introduced to your kiddo(s). Are you ready for your child’s portrait session? We’ve prepared a checklist of things for you to remember in order to help make sure your child is prepared for their moment in the spotlight! read more

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