Capturing Joy | Family Photography Workshop

In June on the day after I returned from my D.C. trip, I attended the Color Inc. ATX Family Photography workshop. I first saw the event posting in the Austin’s Tuesdays Together Facebook Group, a chapter of the Rising Tide Society. Looking over the agenda of the workshop, I knew I would learn a lot from the experience; an added bonus: it was at one of my favorite shooting locations: Star Hill Ranch. I frequently go to Star Hill because we use the location regularly when we do Kelly’s Kids and Eleanor Rose photo shoots. The place has become so familiar to me, and I was looking forward to seeing the place in a new way and with a new objective.

My D.C. trip was so much fun! You can read the highlights here. The day after I returned from D.C. was a busy work day, but then I had to drive off to Star Hill for the workshop as soon as the work day ended! Luckily, I’ve driven to Star Hill from the office many times, so I knew by memory on how to get there and roughly how long it would take me.

When I arrived, I was happy to see a few familiar faces: Simi Sho of Uche Photography and Jessica Frey of Jessica Frey Photography; I quickly made some new friends at the table I was sitting at from us talking about a passion that we all have in common: Stephanie Friedman of Stephanie Friedman Photography and Joshua Simmons of Joshua Simmons Photography. The workshop was hosted by Color Inc., but the teachers for the evening were Liz Labianca, of Liz Labianca Photography, and Missy Mayo, of Missy Mayo Photography. Both women gave their perspectives on how to capture joyful family images, and we learned a little about their processes. It was so interesting to see how they each have different styles and approaches to a shoot, but they both capture beautiful and genuine emotion. They both agreed that you have to basically be as obnoxious as possible with kids to help get them to show that true childlike joy; it’s easier to start off with the classic poses first, and then let the kids run around and play. Both agreed having the family play games is a key trick to capturing joy.

After having a little discussion with Liz and Missy. We were all sent out to photograph three (out of five) families that were positioned around Star Hill. Each group had twenty minutes with a family, then we switched. Looking around, there were around 20 photographers for the first family. No one really knew how to start off. I started talking, which then turned into “Erin starts off the shoot with giving directions to the family for posing”. I was so nervous with all the other photographers watching me, but luckily, they all seemed to appreciate how I set up the first pose. Twenty minutes went by, and then we rotated to the next family. We were all supposed to stay in separate groups, but that quickly ended after the first round. One family had to leave because the baby was getting hot and fussy. Then another family moved to the shaded location. It basically became a free-for-all for the photographers. We walked around between the different families to take their photos.

I loved watching how other photographers work: how they pose, what they see through their camera, and how they communicate to the client. Playing with the kids and families was second best. Getting to take photos of said kids and families was the best part! By the end of the evening, I was exhausted. After shooting and filling up on the cheese, crackers, and other small bites, I was ready to head home and sleep. You can tell we were all spent after running around in the Texas heat and shooting for almost two hours. It was an awesome experience to learn and take photos. I can’t wait until I can go to the next workshop!

family of four portrait dad smiling at son
dad lifting son into air smiling
dad holding son looking up and smiling
mom holding son and giving kiss
twelve year old leaning against wall
twelve year old girl leaning against side of house
young girl hugging baby brother
husband and wife embracing he kisses her on temple
husband wife and daughter together
dad kisses daughter on forehead
husband and wife almost kiss
family portrait with son and daughter
Family portrait looking at each other
little boy playing in sprinkler with eyes closed and sitting
little boy playing in sprinkler and smiling
two year old boy playing in sprinkler with toes
two year old boy playing in sprinkler and looking away
family of seven portrait looking at each other
family of seven standing on porch looking at camera
teenage girl portrait looking off into distance
little girls sitting on deck bannister
mother and girls dancing
mother twirling daughters
mother and daughter portrait whispering in ears
sisters smiling at each other
older brother and four sisters portrait
mother and oldest daughter portrait
little baby being held up looking down
mother holding baby and kissing cheek
mother holding baby girl up over head
father holding onto son with bear hug
three year old boy running to dad
son held by dad and sticking finger in mouth
dad holding son and standing in front of truck
father and son standing in front of blue vintage truck
son on father's shoulder looking down
sisters laying on belly looking in same direction
son on father's shoulder looking at each other
older sister and baby sister looking at each other and giggling
daughters laying on bellies with barrels behind them
father throwing daughter into air
father throwing son into air
father giving daughter piggy back and holding son
father giving daughter piggy back and holding son while giving kiss
father walking with son
older sister holding onto baby sister in lap
four year old girl holding onto branch
little boy drinking water from hose and sister watching
father gives water to daughter through hose
little girl drinks water out of hose and brother holds it