Family Session at Toronto's Urban Waterfront

One of Toronto’s best places to visit is it’s downtown waterfront. Look one way and you can see Lake Ontario along with the Toronto Islands. Look behind you to find a perfect view of the downtown skyline. This family of four was on vacation in Toronto and wanted a location that was distinctly “Toronto”. We headed to the Harbourfront neighbourhood just south of downtown Toronto, which has a mix of greenery, colourful murals, a real sand beach (complete with yellow umbrellas) and of course some sailboats to entertain the kids.

Life at the Lake

Cottage life is pretty special. Endless hours spent lazing on the dock, boat riding, playing card games and BBQing (plus of course the prerequisite mosquito swatting and obsessively checking the weather forecast). The lake can also be a family gathering place - and a place where so many memories are made so it makes the perfect place for an extended family photoshoot.  

At this spot on Lake Muskoka near Gravenhurst, we captured so many different looks: the water, trees, dock, pathway and boathouse. Plus tonnes of laughter and candid moments. Take a look at some pictures from the session.

A Summer Night at High Park

I met this lovely family on one of the hottest nights of the summer. In fact just a couple minutes before the session started I briefly thought "Is it too hot for this? Will we melt?" But we pushed ahead and braved the heat and I am so glad we did!  

This family wanted a relaxed carefree session close to their home as they recently welcomed a new baby into their family. We played, ran and explored the trails in beautiful High Park. I had such fun capturing the joy (and craziness) of life with these three adorable girls. Take a look at some of the best photos from this outdoor summer session.

Getting a natural smile

How do you get a child to smile for a photograph? Probably the first thing that pops into your mind is "Say cheese!". The trouble is that while this works, more often than not it results in a forced smile (either "I'm-only-smiling-because-you-told-me-to-are-we-done-???" or "I-am-smiling-super-super-super-wide)?". It can be tricky to catch a candid smile the very moment that you've decided to grab your camera (or phone). So what's the alternative to "Say cheese?"

I've found a couple different tricks that work with kids but mostly they boil down to encouraging the child to play a game, tell a little story, or do something that really engages them...and then catch a real, true candid smile right after the activity. That's why I often use little prompts during my family photography sessions to encourage laughter and natural expressions. 

Here are a couple of activities I used at a recent lifestyle session - give them a try with your own kids! 

1) Play broken telephone

2) Look at the person who is THE craziest (or funniest...)?

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3) What is the silliest thing about your brother?

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4) Give your mom a nice gentle kiss (then a Wet kiss)

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But truthfully there wasn't really any work involved with getting this family to smile naturally since they were so fun loving. Here are a couple more of my favourites from the session.