A Session at the Beach in Toronto's West End

Life really does come full circle. I grew up in the west end of Toronto and one of our family’s favourite spots was a park on the edge of Lake Ontario. Now thirty years later, this Etobicoke park is one of my favourite outdoor locations for a photo shoot. The park has it all - a lovely little beach, grassy open fields and a hidden trail in the trees. It was the perfect spot to meet and photograph this sweet little family of three. Their little boy loved exploring but there was one small problem: he was so excited by the water he wanted to head right in (even though it was a still a chilly temperature in May)! Good thing the beach is shallow so he didn’t get more than his toes wet. You can see another of my favourite Toronto locations here.

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.

What to expect in an in-home newborn photography session?

Newborn photo shoots are some of my favorite pictures to take since I adore little babies and selfishly they allow me to spend time with newborns without having to add a third baby to my family’s crew!  In-home sessions (unlike studio portraits) are more documentary in style and allow me to capture a little slice of what your life is like during this special time. Although I admit it's a little bit of an idealized version of this time:) To help my clients prepare and feel confident about their session, here's the advice that I usually give:

Family & Newborn During this time, it’s not uncommon to feel like you're on cloud nine one minute and a complete disaster the next:) So instead of trying to capture total perfection, I focus on connection. My newborn photography style is fairly relaxed and organic, so I focus on “baby led” poses as opposed to highly posed positions. If there is an older sibling in the house, I’ll usually try to include them in shots first to ensure he/she doesn’t have to stay focused on the session for too long (toddler attention spans are short!).

Clothing: I suggest neutral colours, and softer tones like whites, creams and light grey often lend themselves to the light and airy feel of newborn photography. As with any photo shoot, my advice is to coordinate your family’s outfits, but avoid a matchy-matchy look. Here is a Pinterest board with some suggestions for clothing. 

Timing: I usually schedule newborn sessions in the morning when babies are usually less fussy. Newborn sessions can take time (usually about 2.5 hours), and I’ve found that patience is key during these sessions. I like to allow lots of time for feeding breaks, time for newborns to settle into a deeper sleep, etc.

Your Home: Once I get to your house, I’ll look around for areas with the best lighting: often I use the couch, master bedroom, and nursery. I know what it is like to have a newborn, so I tell clients not to stress about having their house super organized.

Here are some pictures from a  recent newborn shoot, where truth be told, they probably didn’t need any of this advice since they were so cool, calm and collected throughout the entire session. Contact me if you have any questions about a newborn photoshoot!

The Best Gift for a Grandma

Grandparents have a special bond with their grandchildren. After so many years (and hard work) spent raising their own children, they've earned the right to be called the "fun" grownups. They're the ones who'll let the kids have an extra treat or watch another cartoon. They're always up for a snuggle or silly game. Yet grandparents aren't often the focus of photographs, even though these pictures are so priceless. So when a client mentioned she wanted to give her mother-in-law a photography session for her birthday, my immediate thought was that it would be perfect gift.

Here are some of my favourite pictures from this recent extended family session:

Why I'm in love with twilight at the beach

A couple of nights ago, the kids and I headed down to the beach for an impromptu visit. We live less than 10 minutes from Lake Ontario, but we don’t go there nearly enough. Plus, my absolute favourite place to take pictures is at the beach, at twilight (so of course, I brought my camera).  Why do I love it so much? 

  1. Light, light, light – During the hour before sunset, the light is a photographer’s dream and has almost magical qualities. It is soft and super flattering.

  2. Beach tones – I am a sucker for the muted colours (blues, greys, tan, pastels) of the beach at dusk.

  3. It’s quieter – On this beautiful weekday night, there were just a handful of other people there.

  4. The kids love it (the most important reason!) – At the beach, there are so many things to do. Throw rocks, splash in the water, play in the sand. My kids are far happier playing while I snap a couple pictures, instead of posing for portraits.

Reach out to me if you're interested in booking a twilight beach session!

Welcome Avalon

A couple weeks before Christmas, my newest niece Avalon made her debut into this world! She joins the ever expanding crew of Fallis cousins under the age of 5 (yes, family parties are a little insane these days, in the best possible way). The boys still outnumber the girls 4 to 2, but the girls are slowly catching up!

I photographed baby Avalon when she was just two weeks old - take a peak at some of my favourites from the session below.

Beach Family Photography Session

Surf, sand, sun. Anna Maria Island had it all.  Plus, the beaches are pretty much a photographer's dream, so I was lucky to get to sneak in a photo shoot while on vacation. This family was one of the first families that I photographed a couple years back. It was great to recapture them again now that they have grown by one with the addition of a little girl. And it's pretty evident that she's a lucky lady, given how sweet her brothers were with her during the shoot!

Newborn Quinn

My latest newborn session was a special one. This adorable little boy is my fourth nephew under the age of 3! I can only imagine the craziness that will unfold in a couple years when there are so many little boys running around at family gatherings. 

I photographed Quinn when he was just 8 days old and he was pretty angelic during the session. His older brother happily took part in some pictures, but I'm pretty sure his favourite shot was the one where he got to hold his beloved guitar (future rock star?).