Alive and Kicking: Photographing Children Outdoors

When I look back at these images I can remember everything about those days: the smells, the tastes, the calm and the peace of each experience.



Words & photos by Allison Kennedy Davies

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 Since the day my daughter was born, I’ve been lugging my camera gear, Pelican case–protected, on every outdoor adventure we’ve taken. There’s something about the way she comes alive in the great outdoors that I love to capture. These outdoor photos remind me so clearly of the moments, the adventures and the experiences we’ve had as a family. Whether it’s a muddy pair of boots, strawberry-stained hands or a peaceful moment at sunset, when I look back at these images I can remember everything about those days: the smells, the tastes, the calm and the peace of each experience. It’s awesome to carry your phone for quick captures but why not treat yourself to a waterproof case and commit to packing your real gear on a few key trips this summer? I guarantee you’ll see a side of your child that doesn’t always shine through in our busy day-to-day lives.




Capture the action: I shot this at the East Coast Open kids run bike race at Blue Mountain several years ago. This kid probably totally rips on a mountain bike now and I love that this is a quick look back at where it all began. This is on the very first lap of the race, before the pack spreads out. I love how pumped this young rider is on getting the holeshot and how he’s eyeing up that first roller with some serious determination. Shot at a relatively shallow aperture of F5.6 and a fast shutter speed of 1/2000th, I was able to both freeze the action and blur out some of the background detail. The focus is clearly on the rider out front.




Focus on the little details: There’s a great spot to pick your own strawberries near Paisley called Keyzer’s Fruit Farm. On this day, I paid for nearly a full bucket more berries than I took home as half the joy of picking with kids is watching them eat as they go. I took many shots of the girls filling their faces but this shot of my daughter’s strawberry-stained fingers is a favourite summer memory.




Shoot during the glory hours: The best light of the day comes at sunrise and sunset. If your kids are still/already awake, teach them to love the colours and peace of a sunset or sunrise while capturing some great photos. This photo was taken at sunset at Craigleith Provincial Park on an overnight camping trip with friends. I love the way the colours reflect in the pools of water on the shale rocks and the way the line between horizon and water is blurred.




Try a prime lens: Today’s telephotos and wide angles let you capture some great shots without moving around too much but there’s something about shooting with a fixed-focal-length lens that offers a great challenge. This photo was taken with a 50mm fixed lens, leaving me no choice but to get up close to this big old bullfrog and find a unique angle. I like how the focus is slightly more on the frog than my daughter, yet you can still clearly see her excitement about her slimy catch shining through.


MLBM_coverFrom the new Mountain Life Blue Mountains Spring Photo issue. Available now. Read more about what’s in the issue, check the online edition here or pick up a free print copy at Blue Mountain Resort and Blue Mountain Village; various locations in the Georgian Bay/Blue Mountains/Barrie/GTA region including Loblaws, Foodland, Valu-MartSquire Johns, The Barn Co-op, Scenic Caves, Kamikaze, all MEC StoresCorbetts Oakville, Tom Thomson Art Gallery, Scandinave Spa,and elsewhere.