How I'd Shoot It: The Arboretum Edition

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a Dallas hub for photo shoots. Quinceañera princesses can be seen walking through the gardens with little girls wide eyed as they stare. Moms are placing their well-dressed babies in front of every flower bed for the perfect photo op for Facebook. Bird watchers and plant enthusiasts get their shots of every variety of tulip and sparrow. 

But that is not how I'd shoot it.

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I don't think the reason you pack your camera when you go to the Arboretum is to get a National Geographic worthy shot of the flowers in bloom. I think you pack your camera because you want a few nice pictures of your kid. 

But as a documentary photographer, I'm not looking for portrait backdrops. I look to follow these 3 guidelines to make my photos of our trip stand out from the crowd.

1. Let the kids play and have fun. 

Don't limit them by posing

In the 5 years that I've been a photographer, I know that kids just don't like being posed. They don't like being told to sit still and smile, especially when they are in such a cool and awesome spot like the Arboretum. So don't limit them. See where they decide to lead you. You might be surprised at what they are interested in and the types of carefree shots you can get. And how many photos look posed and picture perfect without even trying.

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2. Go to an iconic spot.

Put your own creative twist on it

I challenge you to try this. The Arboretum has multiple "iconic locations" where you just know where the photo was taken. But most of those spots I see on Instagram and Facebook are posed shots. Get creative. Find a way to get your kid in front of an iconic location and get a non-posed shot. 

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3. Remember what you're really there to shoot.

Get their curious, exploring faces

The Arboretum is filled with beautiful plants, shrubs and flowers. It's a peaceful botanical garden. But don't waste your shots on pretty flowers. You can Google those. Get your photos filled with your child's face as they interact with the beauty, or the pumpkins, or the exhibits. Focus on them and the experience they are having. The memories of your trip will be captured so much better.

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Try these guidelines the next time you visit the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and see how your photos change. Share around with your friends.

And don't forget...every Arboretum trip has to end at the new Chick-Fil-A at White Rock!

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