I felt like I was in the candy store of Willy Wonka during this photo-session. This family comes up with such a variety of photo locations. Last year they did pictures at their neighborhood playground. This year they did them at Sweet Pete’s Candy Store. A family friend had gotten their photos done at Sweet Pete’s as well. So their photos were our inspiration.
We did some of the same spots as their friend and then found some of our own places. We had to ask an employee for help to find one of the spots. All of the employees are so kind at Sweet Pete’s. You’ve heard me rave about Sweet Pete’s before from the three different candy classes I’ve taken there. We did this photo session on a Wednesday with the hope that we wouldn’t have any crowds. A tip an employee gave us was not to come during the first Wednesday of the month because of the crowds from the art walk. We were so lucky not to have a lot of people at the store the same time as us.
After we took photos, the parents had the kids fill up a container with candy to take home. They had so much fun picking out candy. Not only did this family get beautiful family photos they had a fun night together creating family memories. In fact, it was so fun I took my kids to take photos the next day.
Continue after the jump to see the rest of this fun candy store photo session.
We swam with manatees in Crystal River, Florida. My in-laws took us in January 2018 on a very cold day (high was 40 degrees). A cold day is the BEST day to see the manatees. I think it also helped that we did the tour on a Thursday. Manatees come from the ocean to the natural springs to warm up. The springs are a constant 72 degrees year round. We’ve had several friends look for manatees on warmer days and they didn’t see any or only saw a few. We saw hundreds (but thank goodness only swam with a few). It was a littler nerve wrecking to be so close to 600 lb animals.
One of my friends rented an airbnb on the Homosassa River a few years ago. The house came kayak and her family got to take the kayak out on the river everyday. She said they were right their with the manatees. She also told me they were not cold swimming in the river. They did not wear wet suits. I was curious how 72 degrees would feel considering last summer we went to the chilly Ponce De Leon Springs.
We used the tour company Fun2Dive. They took us right by the Three Sisters Spring. The snorkels, wet suits and following photos were included in our package. We brought our own puddle jumpers for our youngest two. We were told the wet suits were buoyant but still erred on the cautious side. The photos were taken by our guide using a Nikon Coolpix AW130.
I stuck my toe in the water with trepidation but was pleasantly surprised it didn’t feel like ice. Since it was so cold outside, the water actually felt good. Combined with the wet suit it was tolerable to be in the water. We were told we were not allowed to touch the manatees unless they touch you. I did not expect any of the manatees to come up to us but they did. They swam right against us. We were allowed to do an open face one handed touch.They nibbled on the zippers of our wet suits. The manatees liked swimming right under us and it was strange to have my bum be touching the manatee.
Some manatees were rough and others were slimy. A couple of the manatees were getting rambunctious and it reminded me of the Titanic. Once the boat went under it’s weight pulled others down. The manatees huge tails were going down and the weight pulled my toddler under. Luckily I held her the whole time. She was definitely stunned. I think that’s when she really started to get cold because now her head was wet and was above water in the cold air.
Of the entire party, my youngest two were cold in the water. I think because they are smaller they generate less body heat. They stayed in for an hour and then were happy to get out. Leaving the water to get back on the boat was quite cold. It was definitely nice that our boat had covered windows otherwise the wind would have been brutal. We were greeted by our captain and hot chocolate. After some snacks and dry clothes the youngsters were comfy again.
The water was a little murky because the manatees were so active. We took the boat to the Three Sister’s area and that water was crystal clear and blue. The manatees over there were more docile. The whole area of the Three Sisters and Crystal River are basically in backyards of peoples homes. How fun for them they they could just walk down and hop in the water with manatees if they wanted to.
The trip was awesome and grateful we could have the unique experience to be in the water with active manatees.
Whenever I am asked for location ideas for family beach photos in Jacksonville, I always mention the rolling hills of Guana State Park. There is a small parking fee but the beach is generally less crowded and there are no homes on the beach. The lack of homes makes me think I’m on my own private beach. The park rangers close the parking lot right before the sun sets. Anyways, these photos were taken in the spring in Florida. It was right when everything was warm but not scalding hot in Florida.
So, after I get my own family photos I look at them time and time again. Well, here’s a little something about me. I look at the photos I take again and again. Every person I photograph leaves a little mark on my heart. I just love looking at the happy memories that were created in our short time together. I won’t even tell you how many time’s I’ve looked at these photos. If you want to talk about your photos after I would be happy to talk about them and to remember all the giggles that happened. It truly makes me happy to see the beauty of family.
On to this beautiful family, this mom does everything perfectly. I knew that she would be perfectly on time, and prepared with snacks, toys, and change of clothes for the kids. She chose perfect outfits for everyone. The kids clothes were from Carters. The eyelet dress adds great texture and detail. The hat for the little man was the perfect beach accessory. It’s too hot to layer so hats, jewelry, belts, and hair bows are great additions.
ADVICE FOR FAMILY PHOTOS
One final note, the one piece of advice I like to give parents at family pictures is to smile through everything. It’s hard to do- I know! It’s my job to work with the kids- parents just smile. We ran, we played and we got wet. The parents were the best and did smile through it all. I think these family photos have the perfect mix of the sweet quiet interactions along with the playful joyful images.
So, what would you like in the background of your beach photos homes, a pier, rolling hills, sand dunes, boardwalks or just water?