As a stay at home mom, I spend a lot of time with my little ones.
Naturally, I document their day-to-day activities: playing, eating, reading, etc.
Although the majority of my photos are lifestyle, one of my passions is exploring my creative side by styling shoots for my kids. I try to make it fun and playful so they are willing and enjoying themselves.
Find your inspiration
Mostly, I find inspiration from music and movies. Recently I styled a shoot inspired by Johnny Cash and June Carter. We already had the clothes and microphone so fortunately the only prop I had to purchase was the guitar. I love shopping at antique stores which is a great place to find not only affordable props but also inspiration for other styled shoots.
I am drawn to Norman Rockwell paintings, I even tend to gravitate towards clothes from that era. One of my Norman Rockwell recreations was Boy in Santa Suit with my son. He absolutely loved wearing the huge santa suit so we both had a blast doing something that I love.
Research your idea
When I come up with an idea, I spend some time researching the look I am going for. Pinterest is really helpful for this.
I start by searching for the specic idea on sites that will provide visual results. For the ‘Johnny and June’ shoot, I searched for photos on Pinterest and Instagram. I was looking for the overall atmosphere and setting in the photos of them together. I was interested in the clothes, hair, colors, and location.
From there, I created a vision board with those images using a collage app on my phone. This way, when I shopped for the clothes, I would have something to easily reference.
Gather your props and costumes
I want to make sure that the colors will coordinate with the overall theme I am trying to implement. My three-step process allows for an easy styling workflow:
- I “shop” around the house for the clothing and props.
- Then I’ll scour local antique and thrift stores for the rest.
- Once I have my vision and props ready, I will explain the concept to my kids.
My four year old son will not wear pants even on a snowy day, but he is more than willing to wear pants or any other ridiculous thing I suggest for these shoots. I think he enjoys getting into character. My two year old daughter is a little more easy going and happy to do anything for a lollipop of course.
Pick your location
Part of researching a style shoot involves choosing a location. As I create a vision board for the shoot, I am paying close attention to the location since that is a large part of the scene. Once I have an idea in mind, I will take my kids to several of our favorite spots and let them explore as I study the light and the location.
For the ‘Johnny and June’ shoot, we visited several open space parks in our area that have small ampitheaters. The kids had a blast getting on the stage and running around but none of them seemed to fit my vision. I had hoped to get them on the stage at Red Rocks Ampitheatre but there are concerts and/or events there every night over the summer and into the fall so that didn’t pan out.
I wanted the shoot to have an “outdoor country” vibe so I chose a few areas at a nearby state park. It was perfect! There is a horse stable that already had great props and an open field drenched in beautiful light.
During the winter months, I typically shoot inside. I have a space in the house that doesn’t have any furniture or decor yet which tends to be where I gravitate. There are a few windows in that area so I can use all of the light or block out what light isn’t necessary. It’s the perfect amount of space for two little ones.
Usually, I set up the area with furniture from other rooms and props. Then I invite my kids to the space and let them explore.
Once the weather is nice enough, we take our styled adventures outdoors. Conveniently, we live really close to a state park so we travel there a few times a week and adventure. As they play, I study the light and overall atmosphere.
I find this to approach to be most satisfying to my artistic and mama heart. It’s such a fulfilling and fun way for all of us to truly feel free. My kids’ little minds are growing as they search new surroundings through play and my desire to create nostalgic photographs is met with the assistance of my family.