Capturing real intimate moments is one of my favorite parts about family photo sessions. The natural expressions and laughs that you can't get from a posed "say cheese" type of picture, a dad putting shoes back on his baby when they fall off, a fun little dance between the parents to get some sparks flying.
This family session was just a few weeks ago in November 2021, at the beautiful John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia PA. We just were able to catch some of the last autumn colors on the trees and a perfect sunset.
I had not met the family before including their 3 children, so my first priority was to make them all try to feel comfortable and friendly with me before starting to take any photos. This can just be some casual conversation and getting to know about them for 5-10 minutes while you walk to a good photo location.
My favorite lens to use for up-close and personal shots is the 135mm f1.8, since you can really get some crazy bokeh at that focal length and aperture. Obviously this lens isn't the cheapest option (even being the Sigma version and bought used for a discount), but you could get very similar shots with a lower budget 50mm or 85mm f1.8 lens for any camera brand.
It's also very important to get solid posed shots of the family, and I always try doing a ton of these throughout the session. This gives me tons of options for backgrounds/lighting/expressions throughout the course of the sessions, and most of the time the greatest posed shots come near the end of the day. This is when everyone has become most comfortable in front of the camera and likely when the best sunset light will be coming through. Extra tip: try asking the family to walk towards you slowly if there is space, adding some movement/energy to the image goes a long way!