9 Reasons In-Home Sessions Are the Best


Genuine connections and meaningful memories happen at home more than anywhere else. Your home is where you spend much of your time. Bath time and baking cookies. Cups of coffee sipped (or spilled) on the couch. Snack time in a high chair. Figuring out bedtime routines. Transitioning from one to two kids. It all happens at home.

baby portrait in a home in maple grove
A simple ottoman portrait right after an outfit change. He was still trying to figure me out, which resulted in this dreamy gaze.

There are two types of photography that best capture a family in their own home: Lifestyle photography and documentary photography.


What is Lifestyle Photography?

Lifestyle photography is all about documenting a glorified version of reality. The goal is to capture real moments, real people engaging with each other in real ways. This style of photography aims to tell that true story in an artistic, polished way.


One of the best places for lifestyle photos is your own home! It's the environment that's most familiar to you, and it likely has many items that are important to you. That photo of your grandparents on the wall. The way the stack of laundry leans. The sippy cup on the counter. The games. The books. The toys. And yes, even the imperfections. It all helps tell the story of your life.


What is Documentary Photography?

A documentary photographer aims to be a fly on the wall. Whatever happens, her goal is to document, not direct.


I'd describe my photographic style as a mutt. A mix between lifestyle and documentary photography. With both, the focus is on connection and everyday life, not on being photographed.


These photos were taken during an in-home lifestyle session in Maple Grove. Even though the home was dark, we were able to utilize the window light in the living room and all the natural light provided by the sliding glass door in the dining room.

Why You Should Invest in In-home Photos


1. The Most Authentic and Natural Moments will Be Captured.

I believe that family photos should never be about trying to get kids to behave or stand in a certain way. And while outdoor photos can be care-free and natural, in-home photos are even more relaxed. Kids can run around, go potty 43 times in an hour, spill something and not have Mom and Dad stress about a ruined outfit. They're free to interact with siblings as they normally would and are encouraged to play. The most authentic and natural moments occur at home where the environment is familiar and the focus can be on being together and doing something your family loves.


2. Details about Your Kids in their Truest State Will Be Remembered.

The blanket she always dragged across the floor everywhere she went. A game of Sorry. His favorite book. What your kids ask for when they want a snack. The trail of binkies. These details are captured against a backdrop of a wedding portrait on the wall, your dog looking out the window, and a bottle or sippy cup still siting on the counter.


3. You Don't have to Worry about the Weather!

In-home sessions aren't nearly as dependent on the weather. The only time an in-home session would be rescheduled due to weather would be if a crazy Minnesota snow storm produced some less than ideal driving conditions. Otherwise, clouds, rain, sunshine―it doesn't matter.


4. There's a Bit More Flexibility on the Timing of Your Session.

Any time between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. is ideal for starting an in-home session to make the most of the natural light. But depending on the home, a bitter earlier or later can work well too. Sessions in the home aren't limited to that hour before sunset. This is especially helpful for families with young kids that go to bed early or are maxed out at 5 p.m. Sessions can be planned around nap time to be sure everyone is feeling their best!


5. Pets Can Be Easily Incorporated into the Session.

You don't have to worry about getting your pet into the car, bringing treats, or getting him to cooperate during the session. When capturing laid-back photos at home, a pet can pop into a photo here and there and then grab a drink of water before returning to staring out the window. Also, I have nothing against cats. I've just never seen anyone bring a cat to an outdoor session. Cats are also free to roam during a session at home.


I love this photo because it's such "a day in the life." Right before this photo was snapped, Mom was just telling me about how her dog loves to sit and stare out the window most of the day.

6. You Don't have to Stress about Arriving to Your Session On Time.

What a stress reliever! Your photographer comes to you, so you don't have to worry about getting everyone out the door and being on time. You don't even have to put shoes on!


7. You Don't have to Worry about Forgetting Anything.

You have everything you could possibly need right at home. If your shirt gets spit up on, you can sneak away to change. If your youngest starts begging for a snack, you can grab him one. Everything, including the kitchen sink, is right there.


8. You Don't have to Stress about Awkward Smiles or Kids Who Hate Sitting Still.

Having something else to focus on, like a game or a book or food, can really take the stress out of family photos. With in-home lifestyle or documentary photos, your job will be to enjoy your family and engage in the things you normally would. If a kid doesn't like to sit still, that's all part of the memory, and that's okay. And the smiles will be towards each other, not at the camera.


9. You Don't have to Stress about Keeping Track of Your Kids.

Yay! Your kids are completely contained during an in-home session! If one of your kids needs a break, he can take it. Your kids are free to be 100% kids during an in-home session, and you don't have to worry about someone trying to wander off.


These photos were taken during an in-home newborn lifestyle session when baby was about a week old. Mom hadn't changed yet and was finishing up feeding her newborn before the photos, which wasn't a problem at all. Some of my favorite photos are the photos before "the photos."

In-Home Sessions FAQ


What kinds of things do people do during in home sessions?

Here's a list of some things that you can choose to do together during an in-home session to get the ideas flowing:


» Read a book together

» Have a tea party

» Bake something together

» Enjoy some donuts together

» Pet the dog or cuddle the cat

» Wrestle and have tickle fights

» Build a pillow fort

» Snuggle together on the couch

» Build a Lego set together

» Play dress up

» Feed your baby a bottle

» Baby bath time in the kitchen sink

» Build a block tower together

» Get out the paints

» Pillow fight

» Have a dance party

» Eat ice cream together in bed

» Play a card game or board game

» Play tag in the backyard

» Build a snowman together

» Decorate the Christmas tree


And this just scratches the surface! You can choose anything that your family likes to do together, and it can be as simple as having breakfast together.


What should I wear for an in-home session?

I recommend keeping it simple, avoiding crazy patterns, and limiting accessories. I'd leave the watch off and clear your wrists of hair ties. You'll want your colors to mesh across family members. And if you're having trouble deciding on a color palette, sticking to neutrals is the easier route to go.


Ugh. But my house isn't magazine worthy. Are in-home photos still a good idea?

A home should be tidy for a photo session, but it definitely doesn't have to be perfect. Try to minimize the clutter and clear off tables and counters. If a shot is wider, the focus will still be on your family (i.e. objects in the background will be blurred out). Check out the photo below. There are coats hanging, a bag on the floor. There might even be a cup on the table. The home wasn't perfect, and that's okay.


Behind Dad there were several large bins full of Christmas decorations. We worked around them while shooting in the living room, and they aren't in any of the photos.

How do you prepare for this kind of session?

Choose 1-3 activities to do together and spend some time thinking about if there are any special items that you want to have photographed. With newborn sessions, this is even easier (e.g. I want to rock my baby, feed her a bottle, and change an outfit.)


Newborn session or not, I LOVE photographing families in their own homes! The best part is, no two in-home sessions are even a little bit the same. I love how every home is different, and how every lighting situation is different. Families also tend to be much more relaxed in their own space, so the sessions flow even more naturally. There's so much to capture that's ALREADY there. And I'm totally obsessed with the details. I'm all about telling a story, and I'd love to help you tell yours!


How to Book an In-Home Lifestyle Session

Head to my Connect page to get in touch. Or send an email to karajoyphoto@gmail.com to check availability.

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HEY, I'M KARA JOY

Looking for a Newborn Photographer in Maple Grove?

Based in Maple Grove, MN and servicing the Twin Cities metro, Kara Joy Photography is a lifestyle & documentary photographer who specializes in newborn & family photography. Kara Joy Photography is known for capturing raw emotion & authentic expressions through a laid-back approach. Her unforced images have a glaze that is natural yet polished. The cherry on top? A quick turnaround time.

If you're on the hunt for a newborn or family photographer, I'd love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have! Click the link below to send me a message or you can shoot me an email at karajoyphoto@gmail.com​.