We were lucky enough to welcome a new addition to our family a couple of weeks ago with the birth of our son. Pretty quickly my husband and I both agreed that he shared a pretty striking resemblance to his older sister when she was a newborn. But memories can be a tricky thing: sometimes they can fool you into believing something that doesn't quite match up with reality. I know that photography can capture memories but I wanted to see if it can also confirm a memory. To find out I decided to recreate some of my favourite shots of my daughter with my son!

And the verdict is... they aren't twins but they're pretty close (in case you were fooled, my son appears first in all the photos). Julian has a little more hair, is a little meatier and has a slightly more square face than his older sister but the rest of their features are very similar. But just like memories, a photograph isn't a perfect representation of reality. As much as I tried to recreate the photos, they were taken with different lenses, from somewhat different angles, and at different exposure settings (not to mention the fact that the poses and expressions aren't carbon copies), so it's hard to know for sure what accounts for all of the differences you see above.


What to wear? A smile and...

Most days when you choose your outfit you don't think about what the rest of your family is going to wear (well at least I don't - I'm usually just happy if Maelle puts something on within a reasonable timeframe without it spiraling into a breakdown). If on the other hand you're having photos taken, it makes sense to give it some extra thought. For family photos it's best to go for a coordinated look and choose colours that compliment each other while avoiding an overly matchy-matchy look. It can be a bit tricky to strike the right balance but I knew before shooting my friend's family we wouldn't have a problem (in fact she could give me a tip or two since she always has great style). Here are a couple guidelines when deciding what to wear: 

Consider your location

We took photos outside in the fall so the colour palette below of rich dark hues - with a pop of golden rod yellow on the tights - was a perfect choice to fit in with the background. If on the other hand I had of been taking photos of a family with a newborn, softer pastel colours might have been better.

Start with one person and build complimentary colours from there

One tip that works well is to start with one person as a focal point and build the other outfits around that person. In this case, my friend's little girl wore a plaid dress of navy and red, matching boots and a splash of yellow - and her parent's outfits complimented hers. Including a pattern can be a great way to introduce a cohesive palette but just remember to limit the number of patterns  (if there are too many they'll end of competing with one another).

Cohesive colours make the picture come together as opposed to creating a distraction. To highlight this point, I changed the colour of the boots and tights in the second photo on the right. Notice how your eyes are drawn to the mismatching items once your notice them, as opposed to the photo's subjects?

Layer, instead of adding bulk

In the first few shots my friend's family had their coats on but we quickly saw that removing the bulkier down jackets would be better.  Of course in the dead of winter you might not have a choice but since it was late October we were in luck.

Her jacket was a little too bulky (although she still looks adorable!)
Adding different textures can also add interest to a photo. When it got a bit chillier, my friend's little girl put on a cream coloured knitted sweater that matched the trim on her boots, which was a great addition.


Including People in Landscape (or Cityscape) Photography

I have a distinct childhood memory related to photography. On family vacations my dad often wanted my sister and me to pose in his landscape shots and I remember thinking "Why does he always want to ruin this beautiful waterfall/mountain/nature picture by including us in it?". Although it took me a while to come to this realization, I now see that my dad was onto something. At times, adding people to a more a typical landscape/cityscape shot can turn a ho-hum photo into something much more interesting. Here are three situations where including people can be in the right decision (with examples from a recent Portugal trip):

If you want to increase depth by adding a foreground

Strong landscape shots include not only a mid-ground and background, but also something of interest in the foreground. The photo on the left of Lisbon was lacking a foreground, which I was able to remedy by including Maelle and Pearce in the shot. 

If you are missing a strong focal point

The mosaic tiles in Portugal are eye-catching, so when I noticed a dramatic wall covered in tiles in a small alley in the town of Fuseta I knew I wanted to capture it. After taking my first picture on the left, I felt like it was missing a focal point and wasn't as interesting as I had hoped. In the second picture Maelle and Pearce act as a point of interest to draw the viewer's eyes down the alley. 

If you want to provide a sense of scale

When photographing large objects, it can be sometimes be difficult for the viewer to truly understand the size and scale of the scene. If you give the viewer a point of reference and include something familiar in the shot (as I did below with Maelle and Pearce), it can help to convey the grandeur of the landscape shot. 

So the next time you're on vacation silently cursing how busy the tourist spot is because you can't  take a photo without any distracting people in the shot (I've done this too many times to count) stop and consider if including people will add to, as opposed to detract from, the photo.

Here are are a few more of my favourite (people and non-people) photos from Portugal:


First Haircut

I sometimes struggle to come up with new ideas of what to photograph  next but last weekend I decided to kill two birds with one stone and document Maelle's first haircut. We had been putting it off for a while - mostly because Maelle doesn't let anyone near her hair (I don't want to admit how few times in her life it's actually been brushed). But eventually, we decided a little trim was in order.

Things started off well. Maelle was happy to sit in the boat-themed chair.

But soon things went downhill. 

When the stranger (aka nice hairdresser) took out her scissors, things got worse. Much worse. A breakdown ensued.

But Maelle soon settled down, although she held onto our fingers with the strongest finger grip possible.

Eventually, I had to admit she was doing just fine...until I made the rookie mistake of stepping away to try to take some photos.

Just a couple minutes later - no exaggeration here, I think the total haircut took less than 4 minutes, from start to finish - she was done. 

Her curls were still intact, but the back was cleaner  Maelle survived her first haircut and I had couple pictures (and a lock of her hair) to capture the moment forever.