Happy Summer! Now that I’m nearly a month into this “post-lockdown” summer photo season, I wanted to drop back in here and tell you what it’s been like. I’ll be honest – back in June, this Westchester Family Photographer was a wee bit nervous about how I’d serve up my particular flavor of family photo magic when one of the most stalwart principles I’ve relied on in the past has been pulled out from under me. I mean, photos at home are my JAM. I’ve used sooooo many words in the last ten years convincing all of you that home was THE place to be for capturing the most relaxed, authentic memories of this time in your family’s life. I spent an absurd amount of energy during the three month NY shutdown worrying that without going into my families’ homes, it just wouldn’t be the same.
It’s not the same. (Then again, what about 2020 so far has been the same?). But you know what? It’s awesome. Want to know why? Because we’re still at home. Outside, but at home. With our people, just like for real. Just like before.
It’s summertime. We spent all of April and May and Most of March and June inside our houses with our families. It’s only natural that we would find fun stuff to do outside And find fun stuff to do we have.
Ten post-lockdown family photo sessions into the game, I thought I’d revisit some previously addressed FAQs and add a few to the list. Here’s a peek at what socially distanced NY family photography sessions have looked like for Jaye McLaughlin Photography during month 1.
(All of these have been taken since Westchester’s Phase II reopening on June 9th).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION 1: WHERE CAN WE HAVE OUR SESSION?
The New York Forward 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).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION #2: WHAT TIME CAN WE HAVE OUR OUTDOOR AT-HOME SESSION?
This has been a tricky one, 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.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION #3: HOW CAN WE MAKE OUR OUTDOOR AT-HOME SESSIONS FEEL AS NATURAL AND RELAXED AS OUR INDOOR AT-HOME SESSIONS ALWAYS FELT?
OK, the simple answer is that we need a plan. I always ask you to think about activities and interests when we do indoor sessions, right? I don’t always use the ideas you give me. Usually, your bossiest kiddo decides what we do, based on the visual cues he or she is surrounded by in the comfort of home sweet home. If there’s a lull in the action, one of us grown-ups might suggest something — “how about if we do a puzzle?” or “let’s read this book on your bed”. Outside, there’s a greater likelihood that we’ll have more of these kinds of lulls. Too many lulls will make everyone feel a little lost — looking at me with that “where do you want me to stand” kind of look. Don’t worry, it’s easy to fix. If we’re ready with a list of possible activities, everyone’s excited and busy and distracted and I can maintain that balance I love between smooshing you all together a few times to grab the family pictures (as well as all the various combinations) and just following you around and capturing you in the act of having fun as a family.
- A picnic – muffins for breakfast? Sandwiches for dinner? Followed by …
- Dessert, of course. Ice cream? S’more’s? Which you’d need to make in a
- Fire pit or campfire
- Soccer or frisbee of badminton …
- Hula hoops
- Bikes or scooters
- Swings/slides, etc
- Driveway chalk
- A walk around the neighborhood
- A dance party
- Whatever you and your kids are into!
Oh, and here’s a pro tip. Is it super hot out? (I mean, chances are it IS — it’s summertime!) Why. not create and capture some awesome summer memories by bring some WATER into the equation? All of you, just the kids. In bathing suits, in your pretty photo session dress. It doesn’t matter! I guarantee that the wet parts will be your kids’ favorites and that you’ll love the photos we get! Kiddie pool, hose, sprinkler, slip-and-slide … you get the idea.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION #4: WHAT ABOUT NEWBORN SESSIONS?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked that. (I didn’t even address it in my last update because I was so unsure of how this would work!)
For newborn sessions, I’m suggesting that if you feel comfortable, I come inside for a little while wearing a mask. While inside, I’ll work quickly to capture those little newborn details that might be harder to catch outside – her sweet fuzzy back and tiny feet, the heirloom basinet or lovingly prepared nursery – things like that. Once we’re outside, things will go similarly to how they do indoors – you and your family adore the new arrival, count her toes and keep her happy and pace and rock and smile.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION #5: ARE YOU TAKING NEW BOOKINGS?
During the lockdown, I stopped taking new bookings because of all the uncertainty. I’m now more than halfway through making up all the sessions that had to be postponed during that time. If all goes well, and not too many more sessions are thwarted by those summer storms that always seem to be looming this time of year, I should be caught up soon. At that point, I’d love to talk to you about booking a session.
But a warning – there are really only a couple more sessions I could take in the best of circumstances as fall is mostly booked. If you’re interested, be sure to reach out and I’ll let you know when the calendar opens back up.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: THE NITTY GRITTY
To sum it all up, my outdoor at home family and newborn sessions are going really well. With carefully chosen times and locations and activities that tell our very unique stories of this time, you kinda can’t go wrong.
Things I will be doing to keep everyone safe:
- 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
- Wearing a mask as needed/requested
- 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 914.263.0236. I look forward to hearing from you!