The Marley Family

I have known this beauty since our freshman year in high school. Your high school friends offer you a place to return to no matter how much time or distance separates you. With your high school friends you can always return back home to your roots, and I feel my job offers a unique opportunity to peek into the lives of the women I knew when we were teens. I adore being around children, but most of the time when there is a reunion the kids are left at home with a grandparent or a sitter. So, when Lauren reached out to me for family photos, I was beyond the moon excited to meet her little one.

Final (4 of 42).jpg

BUT! TA-DA! Enter Gretchen Bell. Mother. Photographer. Toddler whisperer, and occasional game master.

I find when photographing families with humans this little, a key element is to let the kiddo(s) have an element of control and do some of the guiding. The session tends to be more natural, and, YAKNOW, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that most of my clients don’t want upset littles in photos.


With kids a tad older (and many times, excited to meet a new adult that is full of energy and excited to meet them), I normally start the session with a deal: I will totally go there/let you jump/make a weird face/stand on that tree stump BUT! for every time you do thing “x”, you have to do one of MY ideas.

Anyways, can you tell I am just rambling to myself here? This session was so fun, really. It was great to meet Lauren’s new daughter and her husband. We had a lot of exploring, catching up, tickling, and follow-the-leader-ing. Isn’t that smile to die for?

Final (33 of 42).jpg
Final (35 of 42).jpg
Final (39 of 42).jpg
Final (41 of 42).jpg

Parents! And other photographers…I want to hear from you. What are your best tips and tricks for making a family session run smoothly? I’d love to know your thoughts!