Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

Family Photography at Home


Don’t Let Rain Call Off Play - Indoor Family Photoshoots are Fun

Your family photoshoot is booked. You’re all looking forward to a morning of fun while your photographer gets brilliant images at a park, on the beach or maybe in your garden.

But the weather forecast is wet, wet, wet. What happens now?

There’s no need to take a rain check. Taking family photographs at home opens up just as many opportunities as the great outdoors.

It’s one of the most common questions I’m asked when people are planning a family photography session: “What happens if it rains?”

When I first started my business fifteen years ago, this was a question that filled me with a little dread: what would I do? I needed to shoot outside using natural light and get the kids to play while I clicked away.

And then, as time passed and I worked indoors more and more (thanks great British weather!), I realised family photography at home can be just as successful as outdoor sessions, often more so.  Now, as a matter of course, I will do part of my shoots indoors whatever the weather. The possibilities are endless and these days I never worry about the rain.

And you won’t need to either. Come rain or shine, your family photoshoot will be brilliant.

The Importance of Childhood Memories at Home

Think back to your own childhood memories. Yes, there’ll be some from holidays and adventurous trips out but so many of them will be from those days spent at the family home.

Our childhood bedrooms, the squidgy sofa we sat on to watch TV, the games we played with our siblings and the household rules: no playing on the stairs in my house.

I remember having my hair dried in front of the fire in my brother’s room on bath night and building dens out of sleeping bags on the first day of the holidays. What childhood fun do you remember?

It’s this idea of childhood memories from the special homes where we grew up that needs to be considered when planning a family photoshoot. It’s great to get images both indoors and outdoors but if the weather isn’t on our side, it’s never a wash-out as the whole session can be moved into your home.

Isn’t it lovely to think that you’ll be cementing some of these memories for your children? Beautiful pictures of them playing in their own environment will document this precious time of their lives for ever.

How to Have a Successful Indoor Family Photoshoot

The secret to a successful indoor family photoshoot is in the planning. Planning for fun.

Think about all your children’s favourite indoor activities. How would you usually spend a rainy day at home?

Energetic games like leaping on the bed, hide and seek and pillow fights? Messy fun with painting, baking or splashing in a bubbly bath? Quiet time reading, doing puzzles and building Lego masterpieces? Imaginative play and dressing up?

We’ll mix it up and keep things moving. If we move from one thing to another fairly quickly while ensuring that we calm down between the more exuberant activities, then we can pack in a huge amount in the course of a morning.

And we won’t just be posing here next to a polished food mixer and a neat pile of ingredients. We’ll be making the cake, cracking the eggs, making flour clouds and watching our tasty creation rise in the oven. This of course is the activity that just keeps giving because we’ll be eating it too.

Once we’re having fun, then the pictures take care of themselves. The children will bring the magic, that unexpected element to make the images so memorable and so personal. This is what makes family photography at home such fun.

When you look back on the timeless images from your family photoshoot, you’ll see that we’ve recorded in pictures all the special but simple things that sum up your children at this point in their lives.

Enjoying Hobbies

Does your child have a particular hobby they love? Do they play a musical instrument? Have they got a passion for painting? Do they get fired up by board games?

These can all take centre stage during family photography at home. We have more opportunities to explore their interests at home than when we’re running around outside.

With older children it’s great fun to draw up a list with them of the things they’d like to record in pictures. Some hobbies will only feature for a few years in their lives, something they loved and then moved on from. Others might be a life-long love: an instrument first picked up at four which they play into adulthood or a joy in plasticine models that years later becomes a career in animation.

Think about these things and we can work them into pictures. I love the challenge of creating images around all kinds of hobbies and interests when we’re taking family photographs at home.


Exploring Bedrooms

To add variety and keep your family photography session moving, it’s a good idea to move around your home and use different rooms. This strategy also makes sure your children don’t get bored!

A change of room and change of activity will often coincide with a change of mood, perhaps from a quiet moment to an exuberant active one. Different moods that will be reflected in your final images.

I love to include children’s bedrooms: the beautifully decorated nursery, a floor scattered with Lego or a carpet covered by a beloved train set. My job is to provide you with excellent and varied pictures of your family. Images that will transport your children back to their childhood whenever they look at them in the future.

Including Pets

If it’s raining cats and dogs, it’s easier to photograph those pets who can’t come along on an outdoor shoot. I’ve only ever taken dogs out and about!

They’re such an important part of the family and including them expands the breadth of your portfolio. Perhaps you have a cat your children love, a special pet mouse or even a lizard or tarantula. Getting them in front of the camera too will capture this stage of your family’s life, sparking conversations in later years about the creatures who once shared your home.

Enjoying Books

Seeing children engrossed in a book is one of my all-time favourite things. I was an avid reader as a child and still count reading as one of my favourite hobbies.

Books are a brilliant prop for an at-home family photoshoot. An older child sitting on their favourite perch by a window, captivated by Harry Potter. A younger child roaring with laughter as they listen to a story read by a parent or older sibling. All these natural, every day moments work brilliantly for pictures.

Splashing in the Bath

On a sunny day I’ll often involve water in an outdoor photoshoot: hose pipes, paddling pools and swimming pools are all so much fun.

If it’s raining, we can still get wet indoors. Bubble baths are perfect for this. Babies who can sit up safely and young children often adore bath time and what a wonderful thing to have pictures of.

There are often little games that the children play: my brother and I used to splash the walls and race the drips down the wallpaper, much to my mother’s consternation.

I’ve photographed children who love to wear their swimming goggles and pretend to be in the ocean, or your child might have a collection of bath toys they particularly love.

Showering water, bubble beards, foam hair-dos: all the things your children love make brilliant pictures and are just the kind of thing that make family photography at home a huge success.  There’s no need to worry about rain when you can have so much fun getting family photographs in your home.

Group Family Shots At Home

Alongside the playful documentary-style photos, we can also do some ‘looking at the camera at the same time’ family shots. While these require an element of direction, it’s fun to get both types.

Sometimes a completely unplanned family picture arrives but, more often, I’ll group everyone together in roughly the same area. Otherwise, I tend to find that families scatter as children play and parents watch (or check their phones, go on, admit it!).

But, by suggesting you all sit together on the sofa for a story, or play together on the bed, I can make sure everyone is in shot and then, after taking an eye-to-camera shot we can all relax and enjoy the interactions.

The unpredictable images are usually my favourites, those pictures where a spark of personality elevates an image and shows the close relationships between family members.

So never feel like you’re having to pose on your family shoot. I know many people are a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera. Instead, you’ll be having fun with your family, playing with your children while I record those little glances, the stroke of their hair or that look of wonder as you breathe them in.


Photographing Newborns and Babies At Home

Newborn and baby shoots take place in your home regardless of the weather. If it’s dry and not too cold, we might go out for half the session but the majority of the pictures will be indoors.

Tiny babies need to be kept warm and snug especially if you want shots where they’re wearing just their nappy or a little vest. Older babies, before they can walk, are often best photographed at home where they can lie, sit and roll around safely without eating grass and leaves. There seems to be nothing babies like to eat more than grass and leaves except perhaps their older siblings’ Lego bricks.

At home, we can control the environment for their safety and can also photograph them on your bed which gives us a great angle and brilliant light on their faces. Do check out the newborn and baby page of my website including the galleries to see the huge variety of images we can take indoors (and outdoors) during newborn and baby photography sessions.

Photographing Pre-Schoolers and Younger Children At Home

It’s lovely to photograph younger children at home where they have their favourite toys to hand and feel completely comfortable and confident.

Family photography at home can capture the joy of a little one jumping on the bed, dishing up a meal at their toy kitchen and spinning around on their wooden tricycle. These toys and games will have so many memories attached, all taking place with a familiar backdrop.

When they look back on these images they’ll be instantly transported back to their childhood home. Heartstrings grabbed, they’ll hold such strong memories of a time and a place.

While outdoor pictures sometimes have a bigger initial impact, such as striking environmental portraits, family photographs at home will reflect those everyday moments for generations to come.

Photographing Older Children At Home

When I’m photographing teenagers and older children then I’ll always suggest that the second half of the shoot takes place in the family home.

I like to incorporate teenagers’ bedrooms, if they want to of course. No room is too messy! It’s fun to record this time in their lives: the posters on the walls, the knee-high piles of magazines on the floor, the beautifully crafted Lego models, a curated selection of books, photographs of their friends.

It’s also nice to take some more formal portraits of older children in their own space. This time in their lives, on the cusp of adulthood, seems appropriate to have both the laughing lifestyle images of interaction and fun and also something a bit more considered.

These won’t be overly posed but this touch of gravitas reflects the other side of teenage life: looking forward to the future and all the opportunities it will bring.

Singing in the Rain

The unpredictable British weather we all love so much could mean your family photoshoot begins with brilliant sunshine followed by a torrential downpour and finishes with light drizzle.

But these are mere meteorological molehills. If you want some action-packed puddle-splashing photographs, then we’ll all get our wellies and rain macs on and embrace the elements.

A perk of my job as a Canon Ambassador is that I always use the most cutting-edge technology, including the best cameras and lenses. My kit doesn’t mind a bit of rain and neither do I!

I’m happy outside whatever the weather, so we can always go out for a bit even if it’s damp. The possibilities are limitless.

Are There Any Exceptions?

Just occasionally indoor sessions aren’t appropriate. Maybe part of your home is currently a building site and you’re renting a smaller property with limited space while a project is completed.

If inside isn’t an option, then we can come up with a plan to get the best family photographs possible whatever the weather. Just get in touch for a chat.

What Now? How to Book a Family Photoshoot

Indoor family photoshoots are a joy. Now you know what happens if the heavens happen to open, you can rest assured that whether inside or outside, our family photography session will result in images overflowing with special memories.

If you’d like to book a session or discuss anything further, then do drop me a line and we can work out the perfect plan for your family photoshoot in your home.