How to Capture Lifestyle Family Photos in Everyday Moments

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How to Capture Lifestyle Family Photos in Everyday Moments

Ever wonder what magic it takes to capture a great picture in the middle of an everyday family event?  Of course, taking lifestyle family photos can be pretty basic – be prepared and have your equipment handy.  But as you know, I like to tell stories, so here is the story of this beautiful father-son motorcycle shot of my son and grandson bonding with their Harleys!

Dad and toddler son fist bump while sitting side by side on matching Harleys

My little grandson turned two the other day.  We felt honored to host his birthday party at our home.  For many years my house was not suitable for entertaining, so now that we have upgraded, it’s lovely to be able to fit a small crowd into our space and have room to stretch out.  His birthday in the fall made it the perfect opportunity to enjoy the yard with everyone.

We are currently living in the time of COVID-19, so we needed to gather outside for the party.  This way, we had more area to stretch out and lots of fresh air for everyone, and it was a perfect opportunity to practice taking Lifestyle family photos outside!

For more information on Covid-19, check out the CDC Website HERE

On this lovely spring Saturday afternoon, we all gathered in the backyard for the big event.  It was a super fun group of all of my grandson’s favorite people, including his mom and dad, two sets of grandparents, four sets of great-grandparents, and his uncles, aunts, and one sweet little cousin who is just a few months younger than our birthday boy.

We started the event with cake and the birthday song, none of which thrilled him.  Ya know, it must be a bizarre thing when you’re two to have a crowd of people singing and fussing when you usually go about your business at grandma’s house.

Don't Be Afraid to Move!

My grandma’s instincts were to be close to the fun so I could see his face during all of the moments of the day.  But once the fun started, I decided it might be best to move to a better location to get the view I wanted.  A quick switch of my lens made getting his expression simple from afar.  I changed lenses from my trusty Canon 50mm 1.8 to my Tamron 70-200 G2.

I stationed myself across from the birthday boy and zoomed in to capture his expressions while he opened gifts.  As you can see, he was a bit overwhelmed by the attention, the cake, and the singing all directed at him, so it was a good move to keep the camera further away.  When I take lifestyle family photos, I find that it is often better to stay back and be discreet.  I love this winner with his nervous face and mom and dad both helping with the candles.

child being held by parents blowing out 2 birthday candles
He was unsure of everyone singing his birthday song. Dad and mom helped him blow out his candles.

Find the Genuine Smiles!

Birthday Gifts!

After cake and punch, it was time for the birthday boy to open gifts. The usual assortment of presents made their appearance, including several toys and clothes for the newly minted toddler.  Once he got a look at some of the goodies coming out of the packages, the real smiles began.

Of course, I always find it sad and amusing that little guys this age don’t quite understand why he gets to rip open an awesome new toy, only to be told, “nope.  You can’t play with it.”  It must be terribly confusing to have the toy given and immediately taken away, only to be handed another goodie, which is also immediately taken away.  Bittersweet to watch, especially if you have big feelings like this author does!

Toddler opening birthday gift
He had a great time opening his birthday gifts!
Toddler touching the bow on his birthday gift
The birthday boy really loved the bows on his gifts!

Harley-Davidson For the Win!

Finally, the big moment was upon us.  I knew that the gift from mom and dad was a mini Harley-Davidson!  You see, my son is a Harley guy.  He and his wife worked hard, running their two businesses to save enough money to buy a Harley (can you tell I’m a proud mama?).  My son picked a yellow beauty, and he enjoys riding in the summers here in Michigan.  He dreams of someday having a Father-Son Motorcycle trip (first my husband needs to get a Harley, or his son needs to grow up).

Since my husband hasn’t picked out his bike just yet, and we’re in no hurry for the little guy to grow up, it seems that father-son motorcycle events will have to look a little different.  Before the big day, my son and daughter-in-law were so excited to find a tiny battery-operated chopper-style bike on Amazon that looks just like dad’s Harley.  It’s a lot of pressure to find just the right gift for a 2-year old.  After all, this is the first birthday that the little guy really understands that these gifts are for him.

They ordered it up, and it arrived in plenty of time for the big day.  I imagine it was hard to hide it at home and resist letting him check it out.  But they did it, and it was worth the wait.

The Big Moment Arrives

Just when the birthday boy thought the gifts were done, dad snuck away and came around the corner with the canary yellow mini Harley!  He was so excited!  His happy face and big OOOOOH made everyone’s day!  I happily clicked my shutter mid-oooo when he saw it!  It’s safe to say they definitely hit their mark with this gift.  He immediately loved it and jumped right on. 

Toddler standing next to a toddler-sized motorcyle

To order your very own mini motorcycle just like this one, click HERE

Get Ready for the Big Moment!

After the fun of the party, the various grandparents and uncles and aunts headed home or out to other activities, and my son prepared to leave.  See, it’s fall in Michigan, and hunting season is close.  He needed to do some work on his hunting space to ready himself for opening day.  

mom wiping off toddler's face while he sits astride a mini motorcycle next to dad on a full sized Harley
Mom gives him a quick spit bath before taking a few photos

My daughter-in-law had talked about a specific father-son motorcycle photoshoot with the two dudes and their matching bikes.  We were going to set a date and schedule something after the party.  It would have been amazing.  Butttt…..

The Impromptu Harley-Davidson Bike Pictures!

As my son hopped on his bike to get ready to go, the moment presented itself to snap a few lifestyle family photos on the spot!

Little guy was playing on his new Harley just a few feet away, so I quickly had mom line them up.  Sometimes the photos at the moment are the best ones!  He was so enamored with the new bike that he was perfectly happy to sit on it next to dad.

Dad was happy because he didn’t need to “wardrobe up.”  He is also perfectly happy to sit on his bike just for fun, so he was a willing participant.  Since hunting season was upon us, the chances of a father-son motorcycle shoot anytime in the next few weeks were going to be slim.  Even though I was still anticipating a “full shoot” on another day, I thought I would grab a couple of quick snaps.  But honestly, it worked out much better than that!

Are You Ready for the Big Secret?

As I stood there with my camera in hand, father and son began interacting naturally.  One of the things they regularly do is bump fists.  My lil grandson says, “bumpies, daddy,” so that fist bump was a perfectly natural moment.

Dad and toddler son fist bump while sitting side by side on matching Harleys

I did prompt them with a couple of directions, like “can you look at daddy?” which gave me the greatest expressions on both of their faces!

Dad and toddler son sit astride matching Harleys side-by-side
"Can you look at daddy?"

Once I was satisfied with some of the shots from the front angle, I moved around to the side and got some profile shots of the bikes.  It really all flowed so well with both of them happily sitting astride their bikes.  And gosh – does it get any cuter than this?

Dad and toddler son sitting side by side on matching Harleys

Or this?

Father and toddler son side together on matching Harleys

Preparation + Opportunity = Success

Because I was there and ready with the camera, I was able to capture the moment as it unfolded!

It has been said many times by many wise people, including Zig Ziglar and Oprah Winfrey, that “success or luck happens when preparation meets opportunity,” and this is the perfect example.  

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet - on a poster

Because I have had a whole bunch of practice shooting in various situations, I was ready for the opportunity on this day to capture the perfect moment, and you can’t argue with the results.

These are going on the wall!

After all of our planning for a big photoshoot, it looks like we won’t need that after all.  My daughter-in-law and I are both thrilled with these results and perfectly happy to hang them on our walls.  What a great way to end the party, and now we will forever treasure these photos.  We could have dressed both father and son in themed clothes, and perhaps a real face wash instead of a quick spit-bath would have been preferable, but in the end, everything came together because we were all open to capturing the moment in all of its glory!  And that, my friend, is what matters the most.

One last thing...

About that Spitbath

It seemed the spit bath wasn’t quite enough to rid his little face of all the birthday cake remnants.  A little editing helped take care of that, along with some small stray hairs. 

Once again, preparation met opportunity.  You see, I have been learning editing for almost as long as I’ve been learning photography skills, so I was able to quickly make a few adjustments to enhance the subjects in the background and make them pop!

Here is a summary of the adjustments I made in Photoshop:  I selected the subjects, blurred the background some using the tilt-shift option, and adjusted for color and clarity.  I brought up some of the bikes’ details by lowering the shadows with a brush.

These are all skills I’ve picked up and honed by playing in Photoshop on practice images. Once again, it pays to have lots of practice in preparation for when the time is right to make these changes in earnest.

Read all kinds of interesting editing information in The Power of Editing:  Taking a Photo from Average to Astounding

The Harley Finale

I Really Mean it This Time

When you intentionally practice and make time to learn, and keep learning, something you love, you will be ready when you least expect it.

I was honestly quite pleased with the results of this little off-the-cuff session.  Isn’t it always the goal to be able to do something you love comfortably at the moment without having to overthink it?  I can only think of those piano players that sit down and whip out a full song and make it look easy.  We all know that behind the scenes, that pianist has been playing and practicing and honing that skill for countless hours to be able to do that.

I am excited to know that I’ve reached that place with my camera and can put out solid work by using the skills I’ve been practicing for so long!  I hope you are inspired to do the same.

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2 Comments

  1. Veronique….I did comment here. Not sure where it went to.
    Besides saying the photos are beautiful….
    I was wondering if you got photos of all the grands and great grands with your grandson?

    • Well that’s strange. I don’t see the previous comment. I did get a few photos of the grands with the grandson. Some are a little shy about having their photos posted, so I didn’t include them! Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading!

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