How to have fun family photos full of genuine love and laughter

Be Intentional

Intentionality has been a big topic on my mind lately.

In a fast-paced world of Facebook notifications, cheerios on the floor, children clamoring for my attention, and dinner to make, I find myself often wanting to zone out to escape the chaos.

However, the other day, I set aside my phone, broom, and dishcloth and sat down in a sea of duplos to hold my toddler. We sang, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and did the motions along with it. As I sat there on my messy living room floor, I gazed into my son's blue eyes. They were full of life and laughter as he begged for, "more" and then squealed with delight as I started the song over again.

There was such simplicity and beauty in that moment and he so clearly loved having my undivided attention.

A photo session is about documenting those types of memories with your family. The best way to do that is by being intentional.

Here are five practical ways that you can create intentional connection in your family's photoshoot:

Parents, you set the tone for the session

Parents, but especially moms, you set the tone for the session even before you arrive. Don't stress, threaten, or bribe - Talk with your kids about the fun you'll have, maybe you plan to get ice cream afterward (not as a bribe, but as a continuation of a fun family experience!)

During the session too, if you're stressed and anxious, your kids will pick up on that. It's okay for little Johnny to run circles around you, or for Suzy to only want to be held - That's where they are at right now, part of being intentional during your session means embracing what IS, instead of creating a façade.

Try grabbing your son and tossing him up in the air, or holding his hands and spinning in circles. Or, cuddle your little girl up close and enjoy the fact that she's still small enough to be held in your arms.

Talk in cheerful, animated, and loving tones - You can redirect if necessary, but completely avoid yelling, threatening, or harshness.

mom kissing son connecting family picture

Set aside expectations and be present

Set aside your expectations for how your kids or your spouse will behave, and set aside your expectations for yourself, don't stress about how you look - I'm looking for the flattering angles, perfect light, and will guide you in different ways to help draw out the beauty of the moment in the photos.

(Interestingly enough, the angle of your face when you're looking to the side to connect with your child or your partner is very flattering!)

Always Be Touching Someone

Don't let your hands be idle, always be touching someone. This always is beautiful in a photograph, but adding intentionality really creates the emotion and meaningfulness we crave as mothers.

Does your toddler have bouncy curls because he hasn't had his first haircut yet? Twirl them in your fingers and hold him close (if he'll let you! Haha!)

Do you stroke your five year old's cheek as you tell her goodnight? Stroke she cheek like that during the session!

Have you stopped to admire your partner lately? Maybe you trace his jawline as you gaze into his handsome face.

laughing boy in family portrait

Keep moving, movement is your friend!

As humans, we don't usually pose and freeze in daily life, right? (How awkward would that be if we did!) It's natural to move, and we find comfort in that. We rub circles on our baby's back, sway softly in our spouse's arms, run our hands through our toddler hair, and more.

Try holding your dress and swishing it as you walk, run your fingers down your spouse's neck as you embrace, play with your newborn's fingers.

These little movements help you to relax and move naturally, and they create genuine connection between you and your family as you focus on THEM and not the camera.

family playing together St. Cloud MN

Enter into your child's world

As your kids explore the location, explore with them! (An easy way to connect is by holding their hand as you explore together.) Get down on their level and see the world their eyes. Ask them to show you the acorn they found, enter into their ramblings and stories and enjoy the creativity and wonder that they have.

Your children will love having your attention. Often, you'll find that they are more willing to engage in the session too when it's an environment full of love, fun, exploration, and tender intentionality.

One last note:

These are your most precious people - Your spouse and your babies - Be present with them and give yourself permission to move freely and love on them lavishly.

You'll find that your photos are filled with love, laughter, and genuine connection that tell your family's story in a beautifully meaningful way.







work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

A meaningful and fun photo experience with your spouse and kiddos in one of the beautiful outdoor locations near St. Cloud, MN: Whether it is a field, lake-side beach, or wooded area, I am always on the search for more beautiful places to recommend for my clients.




work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

Intentional photos of the expectant mother in a beautiful outdoor location. Her significant other and other children are included in the session as well. Flowy dresses to highlight your beautiful bump and make you feel as stunning as you are highly recommended!




work with me
Susannah Ray Photography

Intentional and stress-free photos of your beautiful newborn (and his or her immediate family) in either the comfort of your own home where baby's memories begin, or in a beautiful outdoor location near St. Cloud.

St. Cloud, MN
family + newborn photographer

Hi, my name is


St. Cloud MN family and newborn photographer

Telling your story one image at a time.

The birth of my first baby is what lit the fire under me to help other families capture their own lives - From crazy toddler antics to tender in-betweens, these are the moments that I cherish with my own family.

As a mom to two under two, I am accustomed to the joyful chaos of young families and like to bring a relaxed approach to your photo session that encourages children to have fun and show their true personalities instead of forcing them to smile unnaturally on command.