Tips for family photos with teens.

I'm at that stage in my life where we're closer to high school graduation than diapers now. We've exchanged our cribs, lullaby's and onesies for softball cleats, art lessons and Taylor Swift. I'm bewildered every time we need to buy new shoes because didn't we just buy a pair for those growing feet? So many empty nesters told me time would fly with children as I pushed my stroller around and now I tell new parents the same thing. All this to say that family photos matter in all stages of life. From newborns, to teens, to adults... you don't stop loving your kids and you don't stop wanting to be in the frame with them. So here are my top tips for a smooth family photo session with your teens.

Mother and teenage daughters smile for posed portrait.
Teenage sisters hug and smile in candid photo in Bellevue.
Candid photo of family walking at Bellevue Botanical Garden.

Choose a relaxed setting for your family photos with teens.

Adults, young children and even teens do best when photographed in a location they're comfortable in. Bellevue Botanical Garden is beautiful in every season but especially spring and summer (by fall, this location is very crowded). This garden has flowers, varied layers of greenery, wide open spaces and quiet evenings which make for a relaxed setting. If a garden vibe isn't your thing, I have a list of locations that I love which are quiet and scenic.

Mother hugs her daughters at sunset in Bellevue.
Portrait of sisters smiling at Bellevue Botanical Garden in the spring.
Spring family photo at sunset in Bellevue.

Involve teens in the planning process.

Teens often appreciate being involved in the decision-making process. Before the session, parents can discuss locations and outfits with them. During the session, I'll show teens the back of my camera so they can see what I've captured. I'll ask teens to help me make other family members laugh. After I've gone through my shot list, I'll ask teens if there are any poses they want to do. By involving them, this makes them more invested in the session. For this family, the siblings had certain poses, inside jokes and bonds they wanted captured. I will also respect teens and their individuality and boundaries. If a teen doesn't want to do a certain pose, I don't force it.

Portrait of sisters.
Candid moment of husband dancing with wife.
Sisters giving piggy back rides.
Sisters giving piggy back rides and smiling at sunset in Bellevue.

Show a genuine interest in their lives.

Teens can tell when someone is being authentic or not. I'll ask about their hobbies, interests and then ask follow up questions. Sometimes, discussing their favorite sports, music or subjects in school can elicit candid smiles! There's nothing like talking about their favorite subject to put them in a relaxed and comfortable mood! We can do these things as we're walking from one location to the next; or we can do them as we take breaks. I'm all for taking breaks to allow everyone to recharge!

I've photographed some of the kindest and most interesting teens...teens that make me think the teen years coming up real soon won't be as scary as some people say they'll be. Teens, like me and you, want to be seen, heard and cared for. That's something I can offer with my approach to family photos.