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The Dos and Dont’s of Outdoor Family Photography – Toronto Photographer

October 28, 2021

After years of working as a family photographer in Toronto, I can tell you one thing for certain: You are hardly the only one wanting to rip their hair out every time you have to organize a family photo-shoot. Just trying to work with everyone’s schedules and locking in a date for the session can be a nuisance, let alone picking out what they will wear, how they will pose and where they will pose for the best results. 

Things get even trickier when it comes to outdoor family photography. There are a host of problems you might run into, such as last-minute park closures and accidents. Sad as it may sound, the likelihood of you or one of your family members, say, tripping over a tree trunk or stepping into waste is very high. And let’s not forget the erratic weather here in Canada…

Needless to say, planning an outdoor family photo-shoot is a lot trickier than in-studio family photo shoots in Toronto. For your convenience, I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts for your next outdoor family photo-shoot. It may come in handy if you’re planning a Christmas card picture session soon…

Do: Pick a clean, open location 

Remember: the point of outdoor photography is to highlight nature. Hence, opt for scenic, open spaces with lots of shrubbery, animals, fruits or other items that offer great photo-op value. Pumpkin patches and flower fields are just some of the many options for outdoor family photography out there. 

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Don’t: Avoid excessive editing 

Less is always more. The point of touch-ups is to tweak the appearance of your subjects, not make them look completely different. Many of my clients who visit Anchor Studios want their skin brightened, eyebags removed and tummies tucked. We’ll grant their wishes, lest you end up looking unnatural. 

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Do: Pick the right time to shoot 

Not many photographers will tell you this but it’s best to avoid shooting between 11am and 3pm. Why? Well, this is when the sun is directly above us and at its strongest, so unless you want sweat patches to ruin your pictures, you should avoid scheduling a session around midday. 

What’s more, there is very little diffusion of light at this time too. This typically casts a sharp shadow which appears as dark spots in pictures, ultimately leading to poor exposure. If you really don’t have another option, take pictures in a shaded area or wait for the evening or overcast climate conditions. 

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Don’t: Wear overly bright, distracting clothing  

Many of my clients opt for matching outfits to give off a sense of togetherness. Some prefer formal attire, others like to keep it casual.

Irrespective, it is advisable to avoid anything with huge logos or over-the-top accessories as these will take away from the natural vibe of your outdoor images. I’d also warn you against neon or fluorescent clothing as they steak the focus. 

If you’re still not sure what to wear, don’t worry! Anchor studios runs a ‘Client Closet’ featuring women’s wear from Extra Small (XS) to Large (L) that you can borrow for free. We also have clothing options for babies!   

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Do: Utilize burst mode   

This one is for all Toronto photographers and anyone shooting family portraits anywhere: Burst mode is a blessing when you’re working with little children. Rest assured, they will move, cry, throw up or fall asleep, no matter how hard you try. So don’t put all your eggs in one basket: take several photos together so you can get at least one that is worthwhile. But remember to adjust your shutter speed lest your subjects get blurry. 

Burst mode is great for group pictures and sporting events too.

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Don’t: Say no to candids    

You know why we all love those Pinterest-worthy shots of people laying in the grass and laughing or looking off of the deck of a boat? Because they are natural.

Many people avoid candids, claiming they look “too posed.” Some even question the point of hiring a photographer if one is not having proper pictures taken. But sometimes, unplanned pictures turn out better. This is especially true of family or wedding/engagement photography as candids allow you to be seen as you are, in your natural state of being, in love with your family or significant other. 

Outdoor photography offers many opportunities for candids. Have a picnic in the park! Pose under the setting sun. Walk along the coastline. Whatever you decide will turn out great! 

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In a nutshell…

Hope my guide to family photography in Toronto helps you prepare for your next session. If you’re looking for more information, however, feel free to visit https://anchorstudio.ca/family-sessions or call us anytime!

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