My hope is that this tutorial leaves you more confident and knowledgeable that you can take beautiful pictures of your children in the Texas bluebonnets without a professional. I have been taking pictures of my own kids for years in the patches and have a learned a lot... and probably made all the mistakes possible! Having said that, these are the lessons that I think matter most and will make a true impact in the end results:
scout your area.
As soon as you start to see the blooms on the side of the read in Texas you know it's time! Wait a week or two more and no longer, but keep an eye out for a patch that is convenient to your family. You don't want to spend too much time traveling and risk getting stuck in traffic and/or having grumpy kids. This year we found some less than half a mile from our house! Can't beat that! Keep your travel time to less than 1/2 an hour and you're golden.
Sorry about the blurry picture taken from a moving car- but I wanted you to see that this was no field of bluebonnets but a decent patch with parking close by, so that was good enough for me, therefore...
don't under estimate the size and location.
I used to see small patches and think they were not worthy but I have since learned! A 10' X 5' patch can be enough! Get up close and be aware of your background to avoid distractions like street lights, cars, etc. Also, even if the location is in a busy-ish street (keep away from highways!), remember that no one will know that in the end! I had a spot I thought we'd try in front of our church and when we got there, there was an accident! Needless to say, we went on with our shoot and avoided that direction.
here's the accident
and here's the distractions I cropped out
see my car?
now you don't!
I like to let the kids know where we are going and what to expect, so that they are a little more relaxed. A couple of things to note about bluebonnets... they attract A LOT of bees and probably other critters. My girls were great about this but my son was all freaked out about getting stung. I had to bribe him, tell him how the field of flowers was like an all-you-can-eat buffet for bees, and give him something else to focus on, which brings me to my next tip...
I know this may sound cheesy, but it stages the picture and gives kids something else to divert their attention to. I always bring a trunk full of props- just in case! This time I took an antique chair (not used), a blanket, and a book. Turns out we used the book and the blanket but the chair just did not work. You never know until you try it, so take things and have fun! Other things I've used to get kids to focus on something other than the camera... balloons, bubble machine, sketch pad and crayons, a beach ball (when not windy!).
get down low.
This is a general rule for children anyway, get down to their eye level... but even more relevant when taking pictures of them surrounded by the gorgeous texture and color of bluebonnets. When you get down low, it gives the impression of being unintentional and inconspicuous, much more less staged.
see? it works! Don't you love her cheeky expression?!
Remember that this is not really fun for them and it may set the stage for photo shoots to come so relax, enjoy your children, and remember that it is about the memories and capturing this specific stage in their lives, even in the midst of a tantrum!
take a lot of pictures. a lot.
You never know which one will be the shot or which angle/ lighting will work best so keep clicking and make them recount funny memories! Don't be intimidated and do something different this year... get those pictures and make them look like a pro took them!