Why Golden Hour?
 

When I’m able to photograph families outside, I typically do it in the last couple of hours of daylight. Photographers call this Golden Hour because, when the sun is out, everything is awash in golden light.

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Not only does Golden Hour give the landscape a lovely, warm glow, but it also gives the photos a magical, romantic quality. (Some people call it “magic hour” for that reason.)

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On top of that, at the end of the day when the light is gentler you aren’t dealing with harsh shadows. The soft, even lighting makes everyone look their best, whether it’s clear or cloudy.

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When the sun is directly overhead as it is toward the middle of the day, you’re subject to shadows under your eyes and nose. If you’re taking pictures during that time of day with your phone, you can avoid the shadows by finding a shady spot. But for your family pictures, you probably want to be out in nature, so sunset sessions give us that freedom.

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Evening golden hour is my absolute favorite time of day, no matter what time of year it is! Which is pretty early in the wintertime, and pretty late in the summertime, here in New England.

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In fact, I’m so obsessed with golden hour that when there’s a particularly good sunset and I’m not taking pictures, I think, “Rats! A missed photo session opportunity!”

And then I have to remind myself that golden hour should be enjoyed and appreciated, photos or not photos.

(But we all know that it’s better with photos!)

 
Joy Uyeno
Preparing For Your In-Home Newborn Session | Sudbury, Massachusetts Newborn Photographer
 

Newborn sessions usually take place in your home or in my studio in Stow, Massachusetts. One of the biggest benefits to doing a newborn photo session in your home is that you’re already there! No need to get everyone in the car and drive somewhere. Everyone’s already comfortable in the space (especially big brothers and sisters). And, above all else, snacks and changes of clothes are at the ready!

Here are just a few tips that will help you to get ready for your in-home newborn session.

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Find the Light

Lighting can be tricky in our New England homes, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating. We’ll turn off the overhead lights during your session in order to invite cleaner, natural light into your photos.

So one of the first things to think about when preparing for your in-home newborn session is which of your rooms gets the best light. This family has a living room with a huge wall of windows, which created lovely light even though the day was overcast.

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Have a Couple of Outfits Handy

All newborn clothing is so adorable, but you probably have a favorite outfit for your little one. Let’s start with that one! But definitely have one or two other outfits handy, both for variety and for, well, when nature calls. Blankets and wraps also work as outfits! (If only we could do the same as adults, right?)

Here’s some really good newborn fashion:

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Do Some Light Cleaning

One of the benefits to having your newborn session in the studio is that you don’t have to worry about sippy cups in the background or dust on your side tables! When we shoot in your home, it doesn’t have to look perfect by any means, but a quick wiping down of surfaces in the rooms you think we’ll be in will do a world of wonders.

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Let’s face it: you have PLENTY going on with a newborn. You might not remember any of this! And that’s totally fine. We will figure it out as we go. But if you do have a chance to think about these things, your session will go even more smoothly and we’ll be able to focus on your connection first and foremost.


 
Family Beach Photos in New England | Boston Family Photographer
 

I have to admit that I haven’t been to the beach in New England very much, despite living here for over a decade, so I was pretty excited when my friend Rachel proposed a beach session for her family photos this year!

Since Rachel and I originally met in Hawaii when she was my sister’s roommate wayyyyyyy back, the beach seemed especially perfect. We took advantage of the sun and the warmth on this September Sunday, and everything seemed to glow just for us.

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Little Paige had a great time splashing around in the water, but I also got to capture some of her quieter moments. She gave us a glimpse into the young lady she’s growing into.

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One of the things I love most about family photo sessions is that it’s dedicated time for families to connect. No screens, no obligations, just space to love on each other and truly connect. This family is so great at being present with one another. I loved capturing it on camera.

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And, oh, that pink sunset! Be still, my beating heart.

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I’m now obsessed with taking family photos at the beach and can’t wait to do more! Thank you, Rachel and Dave, for letting me capture these sweet moments with your family.

 
Joy Uyeno
More Than Just a Holiday Card | Metrowest Boston Family Photographer
 
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It’s fall, and around this time of year my schedule becomes very, very busy with families who want photos for their holiday cards. And while I always get several photos that I know will work for your holiday cards, I also get a bunch of those in-between moments where you’re being you, and your kids are being completely themselves, and those are the ones that I think you wind up treasuring the most.

My clients’ galleries usually contain dozens of images, and this raises the question: what should we do with our photos after we download them? First things first: I highly encourage you to store them in the cloud somewhere (like Dropbox) so that you’ll have them, always. But what next?

It’s easy for all of those sweet memories to stay locked up in the cloud forever, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to get them in real, tangible formats! Here are my favorite resources:

Prints

Some of your family members will want prints they can hold, and maybe you want to order some for a slip-in album. My recommendation is always to print through Mpix, which offers high-quality prints at incredibly reasonable prices. I’d stay away from your corner store photo labs because the quality can be iffy. It takes an extra couple of days but you’ll be much happier with your prints if you order them through Mpix. I’m not affiliated with them at all, I just think they’re the greatest!

Frames

 
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If you’re anything like me, you have every intention of getting your favorite images framed…and then months go by. Maybe even years! I think the problem is that it’s a multi-step process of choosing, printing, finding a frame, and then getting your print into the frame. That’s why I’m a big fan of Framebridge, where you can simply upload your favorite images, choose a frame, and get the whole thing shipped to your house. I’ll warn you that it’s so convenient and fun that you might want to frame every photo you take, ever.

Albums

 
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One of the best things about this age of lifestyle photography is that you’ll get a lot of sweet images, but you’ll easily forget about them if you leave them in digital form. Everyone loves an album but not everyone wants to spend time designing one. In fact, despite their best intentions I’ve found that basically no one does it because something that’s done at any time is done at no time! That’s why I’ve begun offering albums as the sole print product in my packages. They’re beautiful clothbound albums with archival quality paper. Once you order one, I’ll design it, send it off to my printer, and have it delivered straight to your doorstep. Lots of people buy these for grandparents or in-laws because it’s an incredibly thoughtful gift—and no one needs to know that you didn’t have to spend hours selecting the images, choosing exactly the right format and flow for them, and getting them printed. Call it a win-win-win. Or a holiday hack!

I hope that this post inspires you to get your family photos printed, so that each day you have these little reminders of how much love is in your home.

 
Joy Uyeno
Get The Whole Family Excited About Your Family Photo Session | Greater Boston Family Photographer
 
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What's the secret to having a stellar family photo session? 

It starts long before the session even happens, and it really isn't about the session itself. Here are the steps to getting everyone on board with the family photo session this year:

Introduce me to your kids

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It can be weird to meet a new grown up for the first time, so it helps if you can tell them a little bit about me before the big day. Do they like travel and geography? You can tell them about how I'm from Hawaii. Do they love dogs? Show them my Instagram profile, which has plenty of pictures of my dogs Kona and Louie. Some parents explain that I'm a friend of the family, and that we're going to have a fun time together in which their kids get to be the stars of the show—which is entirely true!

Have your own pre-party

I can't say enough about how helpful it is to plan something fun to do before and after your photo session. My suggestion is that you plan something fun but relatively low-key before your session so that your kiddos still have energy by the time they arrive. It can be as simple as flying a kite in the same location as your shoot, to visiting a nearby museum or attraction, to going for a special snack at a cafe. 

Have a car karaoke jam session

Everyone loves James Cordon's "Carpool Karaoke" and for good reason: because it's so much fun to sing in the car! As you're on your way around town and to your session, turn up the music and rock out to your kids' favorite songs. It's really hard to be grouchy when your favorite music is playing, and music can totally change the tone of the day. You might even create a playlist and begin your car karaoke jam sessions in the weeks leading up to your session, so you'll be total pros by the time the big day arrives! 

Plan a reward (for everyone)

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Plan on doing something fun after your family photo session is over. In the summer months, that sometimes means a trip to the local ice cream stand. In the fall, it might be apple cider donuts or hot apple cider from the farm stands. Some families go to a favorite restaurant for dinner, or to a bookstore or toy store to pick out a prize for good behavior. And don't forget to plan a reward for yourself, as well! Documenting your family's memories is such an important part of your history, but it also takes planning on your part. While your beautiful photos will be a reward down the road, give yourself an immediate treat. You deserve it! 

 

 
A Word About Weather | Greater Boston Family Photographer
 
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My husband, a native New Englander, likes to say, "Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes!" Weather in New England is volatile, and although I truly wish that I could control it (it would be my chosen superpower), I can't.

In the week leading up to your family session, I'll be keeping an eye on the weather. If it looks like rain or snow is definitely going to be falling during our session, I'll get in touch about what you'd like to do. 

We have a few solid options:

At-Home Shoot

In-home photo shoots are some of my favorites and it couldn't get any easier for your family. One of the nice things about being at home is that everyone's already comfortable there! Yes, you may have to pick up a bit, but overall in-home shoots can be really fun and can showcase your family in their element. It can be fun to have pictures of everyone baking cookies or reading a book together to get those lifestyle shots that are so much fun. 

Studio Session

Beginning in September, I'll have a studio space in Stow, MA! It has white walls, big windows, a classic (non-functional but still beautiful) fireplace, and wide plank wood floors. I would love for you to come and check it out. The nice thing about shooting in the studio, aside from being cozy, is that you don't have to worry about getting your house photo ready. We can drink hot chocolate and turn on the tunes! 

Brave It!

If you're up for a session of puddle splashing or snowball fights, I'm in! As long as the conditions aren't dangerous, I'd be happy to capture your family in the rain or snow. In fact, I think it could lead to some of the most epic photos your family will ever take. 

Reschedule

If you had your heart set on taking your photos outside, we can reschedule. Space, especially in the fall, is very limited but I will do my very best to make sure that we find a date that works! 

 

 
Kids Acting Up During Your Photo Shoot? Don't Sweat It. | Greater Boston Family Photographer
 
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Parents are always giving me a head's up about their kids' behavior just before a photo shoot, from, "She just woke up from her nap," to "He's going through a sullen tween phase." And while I do like and appreciate these warnings, the bottom line is that I'd rather spend our time working on creating an atmosphere of fun than cajoling your kids into smiling at the camera. 

Wouldn't you? 

Here are the things that I've found work better than shushing kids or telling them to buck up. 

Focus on Being Together

I'll have you sit together and talk quietly. Tell them a funny story--one that you know always makes them laugh. Show them a goofy video on your phone. Be gentle with them. Whatever you do, don't prod them or make them feel too bad about their behavior. (It usually doesn't work and sometimes ends in tears.)

Instead, gently coax them back into the light. Remember that this moment will pass and years from now you'll actually wish that they (and you) could be this young and spend this time together again!

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Get Moving!

You know that feeling you get when you're cooped up during a blizzard and then you can finally, finally go outside? That feeling of euphoria because you can finally move around in the world? That's what it's like when we let kids run and play during your photo shoots! Most kids happily follow suggestions like, "Race your sister to the tree!" and by the end of just a couple of minutes their smiles and laughter are naturally bubbling up. 

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Play Some Music

Music can totally change the mood of a family photography session. In the photo below, the toddler was having a meltdown--we had been shooting for quite awhile and she was just done with it.

But we found her favorite song (from Moana) on YouTube and played it for her while mom and dad got a quick smooch in. It's one of my favorite photos from this session, and you'd never know that two minutes earlier she had been so upset!

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When All Else Fails: Bribery

Yep, I said it. Your family photos only happen once a year, so if we can't get your kids out of their funk a little bribery goes a long way. I recommend making family photos a fun day by planning some kind of exciting outing afterward like dinner at your kids' favorite restaurant or a trip to the local ice cream stand--but keep it a secret. That way, you can use it as your secret weapon if things go south during your photo shoot, or as a reward if things are going really well. 

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And above all else, breathe deeply and remember to laugh. Even when kids are being utter stinkers, their parents are always surprised by how many sweet photos come out of their sessions! You may be surprised, a few years from now, that your memories from these photo shoots are only of the time you had together in the golden light. 

 
5 Things to Bring to Your Fall Family Portrait Session | Greater Boston Family Photographer
 
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Since my photo sessions are usually candid lifestyle portraits, most families don't need to bring much with them. And while I encourage you to show up 100% yourself, there are a few things that might make your family session a little more comfortable, or in some cases, more fun. 

Bug spray

 Since we usually take family portraits outdoors to take advantage of New England's gorgeous fall foliage, that means we're going to encounter nature in all its beautiful--and buggy--glory. I want your memories of your photo session to be focused on family connection and love, not on the number of bites you got during our time together! 

Blankets

While I carry a simple white blanket with tassels to every session, if you have a blanket that goes with your outfits or one that has particular meaning to you, please feel free to bring it along to your photo shoot. Red plaids, buffalo check, Aztec patterns, and quilts have been particularly popular lately. 

Hair clips 

If you have a long haired kiddo, you'll probably be much happier with your photos if their hair isn't in their face! A simple bobby pin or clip will usually do, but I suggest bringing a few. Kiddos do a lot of movement during my sessions and pins have a habit of falling out with all the running, playing and dancing. 

Water and Snacks

Speaking of movement, we'll probably do quite a bit of it during your photo shoot so it's a good idea to bring along a bottle of water--and snacks! I always suggest having a snack (and having a bathroom break) before arriving at our shoot location, but hey, you can't argue with a rumbling tummy. 

Wipes

Wipes are helpful for everyone--not just little kids! From cleaning up crusty noses to fixing makeup to wiping hands before or after an impromptu snack, wipes are incredibly handy to have on hand. If you have a pack on hand, just throw it into your bag. If you aren't accustomed to carrying them anymore, I suggest buying the individually wrapped ones. They last for a long time and you can take them with you when you travel. 

I'm looking forward to seeing all of you at your family photo sessions this fall! If you haven't booked yours yet, please get in touch as soon as you can. Everyone's excited about the foliage and dates are filling up quickly! 


Not sure where to take your portraits this year? Sign up to get my free guide to the 5 best spots in Metrowest Boston for family photos!