Photo Stories | Lunchtime

I took this darling portrait during a lifestyle session with this little girl's family. I started mid-morning where I photographed her collecting eggs, blowing bubbles and playing in the backyard with her brother, painting masterpieces, creating with Tinker Toys, and reading with mom. Oh, the playfulness of youth!

It was so heartwarming to see her help mom prepare lunch. She held a plastic knife so carefully as she cut cucumbers in small pieces, and then placed them in a bowl together with corn. She was so excited to taste them to make sure they were just right. I took the photo below after she sat down to enjoy the rest of her food. Look at the sweet look on her face!


I first posted this picture on Instagram, just after their family lifestyle photo shoot in 2016. I'll share what I wrote back then because it wraps up what I still feel when I look at it: 

- So, I almost did not post this. I didn't have a cute caption for it and nothing inspirational to share with you related to it. However I love it because this little one is such a sweet girl and the thoughtfulness in her face reminded me that innocence is a fragile thing. Children should not have to think about anything more than the deliciousness of their food.

I love cute pictures with smiling faces as much as anyone. Honestly, though, I enjoy candid portraits more where I can capture the natural essence of the person. In fact, these are my favorite types of photos for kids! Even with children who enjoy getting their photos taken, I rarely meet one that doesn't want to play instead of "posing pretty".

Photographing kids without forcing a pose allows their natural personalities to come out. When you look at your children's portraits 20 years from now, I'd like to think that seeing an image of your son's smirk or your daughter's mischievous eyes reminds you of their personalities. They may even make you muse over how much they have changed (or not, whatever the case may be!). Smiling or not, I love the images when I just let "kids be kids" because those are the images that are most meaningful in capturing their childhood.

Claire Toney is a professional photographer relocating to North Carolina with her family during the summer of 2018. To contact her, you may email her at or (916) 769-5482. She expects her contact information to stay the same.