June 17, 2020

Socially Distanced NY Family Photography Sessions

With Westchester finally in Phase 2 of reopening, every Westchester  Family Photographer has reopening safety on their minds. How can we conduct socially distanced family sessions? Where can we legally shoot with no masks? Will our family galleries look different than they did before the pandemic? I’m a planner by nature, and these months of thinking about these questions and wondering how this “new normal” will feel has been weighing on me, big time.  Now that I’ve been BACK for a week (woo hoo!) I finally feel like I can confidently answer some of those questions.  Here’s a peek at what socially distanced NY family photography sessions have looked like for Jaye McLaughlin Photography during week 1.

(Since pictures always tell the story better, I’ll be answering some FAQ’s and sharing some photos – all of these have been taken in the past week!

socially distanced NY family photography sessions


The New York Forward Phase 2 Guidelines advise maintaining a distance of 6 feet between people, and wearing a mask in situations when keeping 6 feet away is not possible. As the weeks progress, the expert consensus seems to be that being outdoors is a good place to be.  In this beautiful weather, it doesn’t require too much thinking to conclude that right now is a great time to tell your family’s story outside.

My preference has always been to shoot family sessions in and around your home.  If spending time outside in your neighborhood or yard has become a part of your life in the last couple of months, that’s a pretty authentic story, I’d say.  (Want more of an adventure?  Take a look at my Field Trip Session thoughts HERE).


The short answer is no, not really.  I don’t believe your gallery will look much different than pre-pandemic.  We’re telling a slightly different story, yes. We’re outside the house, yes. The backdrop is different, yes. But the goal is the same – to capture you having fun and having some special time as a family.  I’ll still squish everyone together occasionally and grab some of everyone’s favorite combinations, but it’s STILL going to be mostly me following you around and capturing you having fun with your kids. If you’ve had a session with me in recent years, you might have noticed that I always shoot with two lenses: a wide (24-70mm or 35mm lens) and a a longer (70-200mm or 85mm) lens. I use my shorter lens for those wide angle, environmental shots. I use my longer telephoto lens for photos that feel a bit more intimate and for more traditional portraits. Having both lengths allows me to capture it all while staying nice and far away: perfect for social distancing!


This has been a sticky point, friends.  Before the pandemic, when my sessions were planned so that only a small portion would be outside, I could be pretty flexible about timing.  We had to talk about balancing the nice outdoor light with the light inside your house, but we weren’t total slaves to the sun.

Fully outdoor sessions are different.  And not only that … summer days are loooooong.  Sessions need to take place as soon as possible after sunrise (5:30 am!) or start about 1.5-2 hours before sunset (8:30 pm!). We’ll talk about factors that might give us a bit of wiggle room at either end, and think about which time frame suits your families needs (and moods) best.  I’ll tell you something I’ve seen so far, though.  The novelty of rolling out of bed to have a breakfast picnic on the lawn in your PJ’s is more than enough to get a groggy toddler excited.  Some cuddling on a blanket while deciding between a mini muffin and a munchkin makes toddlers and moms happy.  And staying up past bedtime to jump in the pool or eat a quickly-melting ice cream is great for moods and pictures.  It’s summertiiiiime, and the living is easy, and all the rules are meant to be broken, and that’s FUN!

And the light at those early morning and early evening times?  Delicious.


To sum it all up, I cannot wait to continue making up all my postponed spring sessions as summer sessions.  I feel confident that outdoor family sessions can happen in a safe way, with carefully chosen times and locations and activities that tell our very unique stories of this time.

Things I will be doing:

  • Sanitizing my hands before and after sessions
  • Sanitizing my equipment after each session
  • Encouraging families to have their own quilts/blankets ready for seated shots
  • Staying 6+ feet away from your family
  • No hugging, handshakes, tickling or touching
  • Continuing to practice social distancing with my own family

Things I’ll ask you to do:

  •  Please tell me if anyone in your family has experienced symptoms or been exposed to a person with COVID-19 within the last two weeks;
  • Let me know if there are any other modifications that would help you to feel more comfortable
  • Brainstorm with me ahead of time so that we’ve got plenty of tricks up our sleeves for keeping everyone happy, engaged with each other and having fun

This is going to be fun!

Remember this was beautiful.

Thanks for looking,



Jaye McLaughlin Photography specializes in documentary style lifestyle family and newborn photography in Westchester County, NYC, Connecticut and beyond.  I would love to begin planning your family photo session. View more of my work in my family portfolio HERE.  Check out some brand new sweetness in my newborn portfolio HERE. If you’re interested in a family, newborn or maternity session and would like to learn more, click HERE.  To get in touch, just go HERE, or email me or call me directly at jaye@jayemclaughlin.com or 914.263.0236.  I look forward to hearing from you!