Let me make this clear: I know you are busy. You work a lot, and weekend family time is at a premium. You put off booking your family photoshoot because you think it requires so much planning and clothes coordination, and making sure your kids behave, and sacrificing your family time, and you simply can’t face it even when you know you must.

Well the good news is that when you get me to take your family pictures, it’s nothing like that at all.

I encourage my families to either get on with their day as they usually do, or plan a family activity that they’d be doing anyway, and invite me to document it. Capturing your family this way does three things.

First, it takes the pressure off you. There’s no need to take a morning or an afternoon out of your busy life specifically for picture-taking. You were planning to spend that time together as a family anyway, right? So do it, and invite me to capture it.

Second, it encourages you to schedule some quality family time. We are all guilty of continuing to work even on a day off, staring at our phones or laptops, trying to complete a thousand things still on our to do list. Like it or not, having a photographer with you for a whole day or just a couple of hours will guarantee you that this time is truly family time, no work in sight (and yes I’ll remind the dad to put his phone away for the duration of our shoot).

Third, it means there’s no need to bribe the kids to make sure they behave, or stress about them having a bad day. Because it’ll be largely just a normal family day, with all your attention on them, and no requirement to smile on demand, it’s likely that the kids will just be themselves – the awesome, crazy, inquisitive, loud, happy, annoying, cuddly, and everything in between. This is what childhood is made of, and that’s what I’m there to capture for you.

So have a little think, what does your family like doing together? Or is there a special activity you’ve been meaning to do together but just never got around to actually scheduling in? Now is your chance!

If you’re still stuck, below is the list of some pretty awesome family activities ideas to plan for your family photoshoot this autumn. Have a look and let me know if you can think of anything else, and I’ll add it to the list!

Visit your local PYO farm

Visit a local orchard (Garsons in Esher is my favorite) and pick apples. Invite the grandparents over and make an apple pie together. Or go to a pick your own farm and stock up on corn. Make corn muffins!

Rake leaves and jump in piles

If your house is surrounded by trees, turn a boring chore into a fun game and a wonderful opportunity for a photoshoot. Come on, who doesn’t love to go nuts in the leaves at any age?!

family playing with leaves in holland park, notting hill, london

Visit an Arboretum

I absolutely love the bright autumnal colours – all the different shades of yellow and orange and red and green, and the smell of wet ground and the last warm days. Often the best colours are found in in the local arboretums, and I enjoy our autumn walks and collecting different leaves and nuts with my son. It makes a perfect opportunity for a photoshoot: enjoying quality family time together while recording priceless memories.

Teach children about the changing seasons and see the beautiful display of colour. My particular favourites are Winkworth and Westonbirt!

Stay inside and play a board game

The comfort food of hot soup or chili, everyone sporting their team colors on the edge of their seats, and simply put: togetherness. Make dinner, play a board game – it’s all good!

family photoshoot at home playing monopoly

Visit a museum

From Natural History Museum to V&A Museum of Childhood or a local train museum – pick your family’s favourite and head there for a morning or an afternoon out.

Go foraging

Visit a local forest and hunt and identify mushrooms. Or, build a den from fallen branches and leaves (handy tip: there are plenty of building materials in Bracknell Forest, near the Lookout as well as on Esher Common).

family building a den in esher common

Pick and carve pumpkins

Go to a pumpkin patch and pick the biggest one. Get out your carving knives and make your masterpiece.

Antonina Mamzenko Photography, https://www.mamzenko.com

Visit a castle

From Hampton Court to Ham House, and Arundel to Hever, there is an infinite choice of castles and historic houses to visit. And some of them even put on re-enactment days. What a fun way to capture childhood!

Go to a playfarm

My favourite is Bocketts Farm in Surrey – with animals big and small, pig races, playground and an inside play area it’s a big hit with the kids. Make a day out of it and capture some special family times.

child feeding sheet at a play farm in Surrey

Go boating

Got a boat? Travel along the rivers and canals for a relaxing day out, stop at the riverside pubs and walk the dogs. Enjoy!

Get crafty

Make something special together, or use autumn leaves to make a fun seasonal creation!

Ride a bicycle

Go for a family bicycle ride in the countryside or along the river. Stop and have a picnic and feed the ducks.

Visit a funfair

Or an amusement park (Chessington’s my favourite). Or a zoo. You get the idea.

I’m  Antonina Mamzenko – an award-winning natural light newborn, baby and family photographer based between London and Surrey. I specialise in creating candid, natural family photographs with zero cheese and no posing. I work all over London and Surrey, including Cobham, Esher, Thames Ditton, Richmond upon Thames, St Margarets, Twickenham, Teddington, Hampton, Kingston upon Thames, Surbiton, Kew, Chiswick, Putney, Fulham, Wimbledon, Holland Park, Kensington, St John’s Wood and Hampstead. Find more information about my photography sessions or get in touch to check availability and book your family photoshoot.