Kristen Swain Photography



new england families, COUPLEs, and landscapes

Fall Family Session on the North Shore


March 12, 2024


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Fall Family Session on the North Shore | Photography by Kristen Swain

Well, my fingers nearly froze off in yesterday’s wind, but today it’s a glorious, sunny, 54 degrees, which means: it may be fake spring today, but real spring is right around the corner. I’m nerding out over the tulip stems and crocuses in our front yard, and getting ready to track migration as our feathered visitors start to arrive from the south. I cannot WAIT! Before we get there, though, I want to take a quick look back at one of my favorite fall sessions to date.

This was my third time documenting the awesome family you’re about to see, and you know that saying, ‘third time’s the charm’? Well, consider that the tagline of our time together (although our second session was one for the books, too). This family and I have a wonderful connection, and our session rapport is now at an all time high (and hopefully just keeps going up from here).

I feel so lucky to still have them as clients. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d see them again after our first session. Lindsay (mom), Joe (dad), and I met for the first time back in 2021 when their boys Noah and Jake were three and one. At one, Jake was mostly just along for the ride — pretty chill, kind of oblivious to what was going on, and happy to get to show off his newest skill: walking. 🙂 Noah, the three-year-old, was super sweet and also a little shy and slow to warm up to me in the beginning of our session, which I’m used to when meeting a family for the first time. Three can be a super special age for photos (so cute, still so little, and so much personality starting to emerge), but as all parents know, it can also be a very unpredictable age. And on this particular October day, it turned out that Noah just wasn’t having it. Mom, Dad, and I pulled out all the tricks we know to turn a toddler frown upside down, but on that day, the harder we tried, the worse we made it, so we cut our losses and ended the session early.  It happens!

Even in these tricky circumstances, we captured some sweet photos, and Mom and Dad seemed genuinely pleasantly surprised with their gallery. But I always feel a little bit responsible if I can’t boost an unhappy kid’s spirits, and I was also bummed that Lindsay and Joe didn’t get to see my best work. 

Fast-forward one year, and as you can probably imagine, I was a little bit shocked to hear from Lindsay when she reached out to me again hoping to book another shoot. Needless to say, I was thrilled! Our second session together was at Castle Island and it was a huge success. The baby could now keep up with his big brother, and the boys loved playing in the leaves, running around mom & dad, and getting tossed high up in the air – that family session ended up being one of my favorites of 2022.

For their third session, I traveled up to the family’s new home in North Andover on a gorgeous late October evening. As I pulled into the cul-de-sac, the older two boys were out front playing hockey in the street with their dad – a far (and super cool!) cry from the busy streets of South Boston where they lived when we first met. And yes, if you caught that, I did say ‘older two boys,’ as another little fella had joined the mix by the time this session rolled around! 

We got SO lucky with the timing of this outdoor session – the leaves were stunning and the purple sky and nearly full moon that night gave us quite a show. After taking a few family shots on the front steps of their home, we found a couple little pockets of beauty to use for the rest of the session, right in the family’s front yard. And everyone brought their A game.  We had so much fun — the only thing that stopped us that day was running out of light when the sun set.

I hope this story serves as inspiration for any families who have had challenging photo shoots with toddlers. While we do everything we can as photographers to avoid those situations (and I know you do as parents, too!), it does happen, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s not your fault! This is VERY normal and just part of life with a toddler;
  2. Roll with it and trust your photographer – you can still get some great photos even under very challenging toddler circumstances;
  3. One tough session doesn’t mean your photos shoots are forever doomed! Your kids will quickly forget about a difficult session (even if you don’t!);
  4. Approach each session with optimism and excitement, talk up your upcoming photo session with the kids, and bring those bribes (AKA snacks) along in case of emergency. 🙂

If you’ve had one very rough session, chances are each session will be better from there on out.

Fall Family Session on the North Shore | Photography by Kristen Swain

Fall Family Session on the North Shore | Photography by Kristen Swain

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