Life at the Lake - Muskoka Family Photographer

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.

Best things to do in Prince Edward County with Kids

At the end of August we went away for a couple day with my extended family. We were looking for a place that was an easy drive from Toronto and had great activities to keep both the kids and adults entertained. Prince Edward County checked all the boxes and here are a couple of recommendations of the best things to there with kids!

Do

Our main reason for choosing Prince Edward County was the beaches and they didn't disappoint. There are a couple different options at Sandbanks Provincial Park but the Dunes Beach was our favourite. It has a shallow, calm area that was great for swimming with little kids and gorgeous high dunes that were a dream for kids to run up and down.  

After a day at the beach, we walked around the cute town of Picton to check out the shops, visited the local library for a break from the heat and enjoyed an ice cream at Slickers.  

And we also managed to sneak in a visit to a couple wineries. The two we visited were surprisingly kid friendly: Hinterland's patio opens up onto a nice field for the kids to run around and the Grange had a couple board games and decks of cards in a cozy corner. 

Eat

We looked for restaurants with great food and a great atmosphere, but also places that wouldn't mind the four (sometimes lively) little people we brought along. Thankfully the County is pretty laid back when it comes to that kind of thing. We had a tasty brunch at the gorgeous  Drake Devonshire, which has a kid's menu and rocky beach (perfect place for the kids to blow off steam after breakfast).  We also filled up on Mexican food at Chilango's on our way into Prince Edward County.

For lunch we picked up picnic baskets at the Agrarian Market, which the kids (and adults) happily devoured. 

Stay

We found our Instagram-worthy hotel on Instagram (surprise, surprise). The June Motel had rooms large enough for our families and included small kitchenettes. I'm not sure what my daughter loved more: the bunk beds in her grandparent's room or the smores  at the nightly bonfire. 

A Summer Night at High Park - Toronto Family Photographer

I photographed 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 in Toronto's West End 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 little girls. Take a look at some of the best photos from this outdoor summer session.

Getting a natural smile - Toronto Child Photographer

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 in Toronto - 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.

Motherhood Portraits - Toronto Lifestyle Photographer

Being a mom (or dad) of a little one can be tough. Really tough.  But in between the frantic moments of frustration/tears/exhaustion, there's also so much laughter, joy and adorable silliness. Kids grow up in a flash and your time as a mom of a little one is short (although somedays I admit the days feel very, very long!).  A motherhood portrait session is the perfect way to capture the connection, love and candid moment between your and her minis. 

Here are a couple of my favourite images from a recent mom and me photography session at the gorgeous Mint Room Studios in the west end of Toronto.

The Best Gift for a Grandma - Toronto Family Photography

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:

Letting kids be kids - Toronto Family Photographer

Whenever I photograph a young family, I remember to let kids be kids. Kids are great at playing, moving and being silly. I use that to my full advantage during my lifestyle family photo sessions. 

For some of the photos below, I suggested that the sisters run together or play a game of Simon Says. In others, I just let them explore and captured them enjoying the joys of the beach (without any pressure of posing and smiling for the camera).

Here are my favourites from the session that took place near the beach in the east end of Toronto!

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!