Posted on Guides

In 1888, George Eastman released the Kodak #1 camera and gave ordinary people the ability to immortalize life’s most important moments. Family photo albums have been a part of our culture ever since.

More than 130 years after that fateful invention, countless family photos are available to us with the click of a button; you can find millions of them on Instagram alone under popular hashtags like #DocumentYourDays, #LetThemBeLittle, and #ChildhoodUnplugged.

Still, in a world filled with images, we continue to long for family photographs that remind us of the importance of slowing down and spending time with those we love. Trends come and go, but family never goes out of style.

We spoke with Winnie Bruce, a top Licensing Contributor based in Maryland, to get her best tips for creating modern yet timeless images. Read on to learn how she captures priceless pictures that resonate with users around the world.

“I only work with real families.”

Working with families rather than professional models has a few perks. First, it allows you to capture the genuine connections between parents and their children. Beyond that, having the whole family on set helps young kids feel at ease.

“Kids are very in tune with who they’re with, and I know they’re more comfortable and relaxed being with their own family,” Winnie tells us. “To prepare a family for a session, I send them a PDF that they can read through beforehand. In there, I have tips and tricks and a guide of what to expect.”

“I normally don’t do sessions that are less than an hour long.”

When working with a new family, schedule more time than you think you’ll need. Especially when working with children, it’s important to spend a few minutes chatting without the camera present.

“I like getting down to the child’s level and looking at them eye-to-eye,” Winnie says. “I ask them questions like how their day is, what their favorite food is, if they’re doing anything after, etc.”

“For smaller children (18 months and younger), I get silly with them! I ask parents if they have favorites songs, and I play peekaboo with them too. I’m a firm believer that babies can sense if a person likes babies, and they will reciprocate with giggles and smiles.”

“Play is crucial in a successful family session.”

When working with children, follow their lead. Some kids might warm up to you quickly, and others might take time. Let them set the pace, and invite them to teach you their favorite games or introduce you to the family pet. Give them space and freedom to do what they enjoy. “To make it fun, I merely guide them into good light and let them play,” Winnie tells us.