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It's a Texas thing.  Every spring, fields of bluebonnets bloom along Texas highways, and parents pull their children out, babies and teens alike, into the fields of blue for their annual spring photos, Texas-style.  Many excellent local photographers offer special bluebonnet sessions this time of year, but most parents will opt to take these pictures themselves.  Here's a few tip for those do-it-yourself-ers who are planning on getting bluebonnet pictures this weekend!

1.  THINK SAFETY FIRST.  Pictures are sweet.  But they are never worth putting your child in danger for.  This is something I stress with all my newborn clients, with the increasing trend towards "unnatural" newborn poses.  But I'm also very adamant about safety during bluebonnet season.  Sometimes parents will be driving down the highway and decide that now is the moment to pull their kids out for bluebonnet pictures... on the side of the busy highway.  PLEASE PLEASE don't do this!!!  You can find bluebonnets all over town, and if you just pull off the busy highway, and drive around a little, you're bound to find a better, safer patch of bluebonnets.

Also, those "fields" of bluebonnets tend to sprout up on undeveloped land that will also be full of tall grasses and weeds.  Such fields are more likely to be home to snakes, so before setting your baby down in the bluebonnets, please check the surrounding area!!  I haven't personally known of anyone who got bit by a snake in bluebonnets, but I'm sure it has happened.

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2.  GO AT 7:00 PM.  If you are not a photographer and don't have the slightest clue about lighting or how to use your camera, the best way to get the most beautiful colors is to go during "golden hour," or the hour right before sunset.  Lighting is soft, and you don't have to worry about harsh shadows or squinting children.  You can get beautiful pictures, even with a cell phone.  Also, the hour before sunset seems to be when families (both children and parents) are most relaxed, and more naturally cheerful and playful.  So plan for 7:00 pm, and you'll be much happier.

3.  COMFORT MATTERS FOR CHILDREN.  Parents see bluebonnets and envision their little girl wearing a beautiful spring dress, laughing and running freely through the flowers.  Well, have YOU ever actually tried to run through bluebonnets in a dress?  And sandals?  Especially if it's in an open field, the flowers and surrounding brush tend to be scratchy and uncomfortable.  Some children won't care about this, and are happy to run in a field of weeds.  But MOST children, will NOT be happy in an itchy field wearing shorts or a dress.  Dress your children in pants or tights, and comfortable shoes, and it will show in their attitudes.  If you must have their legs uncovered, at least give them a blanket or crate or something to sit on.

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4.  DON'T DRESS THEM IN BLUE.  Unless you want them to blend in.  The best colors to choose for your children to wear are colors that will stand out or complement the blue around them.  Yellow, pink, and white are my favorite colors for these photos.  Purple can also look nice too, as it is similar to blue but won't completely blend in.  If you have a boy (who definitely won't do pink or purple), brown is good too.  Also, think solid colors or patterns that aren't too busy.  If you have several children, dress them all in different colors that pair together well.

5.  CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE.  My number one suggestion for parents, in general, who are photographing their kids, is to get on your child's level.  SQUAT DOWN and take your pictures lower to the ground.  You will catch more of their expressions, whether they are looking up at the sky or down at the flowers, and your pictures will reflect more of what the world looks like from their eyes.  So take some photos from above to capture the bluebonnets around them, but then afterwards, get down on their level to capture the "feeling" of being a Texas child in the bluebonnets.

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6.  RELAX AND HAVE FUN.  Your children will tell if you're stressed.  Just go out and have fun, with no pressure for the perfect photo.  My problem as a photographer when photographing my own children is that I'm always aiming for perfection in composition, lighting, and expression, and it is difficult to do that when my toddler is needing me to hold them (I've had four of them so far, so it's a never-ending battle!)  If you require perfection, just save yourself the stress and hire someone (I have started using Toni Marie Photography for our own family, and it's been wonderful to actually be in the photos as well!).  But if you're doing them yourself, just enjoy it!  You get a new chance every year, and you WILL cherish these photos in the coming years!!

Good luck, and if these tips helped you, leave me a comment and let me know!  Happy shooting!!

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