Member, Professional Photographers of America


The Power of Play

Time spent playing with children is never wasted.
— Dawn Lantero

As a former early childhood education instructor I have not only heard about the many benefits of playing with young children, but I have also witnessed it firsthand within the school setting as well as at home in a personal setting with my own children. In today’s society it is not unheard of for children to spend on average four to seven MINUTES per day in unstructured play compared to nearly seven or more HOURS per day in front of a screen. I’ll be the first to admit it, my kids LOVE the screen! And that is one of the biggest reasons why I actually make my kids go play and we sign them up to play in sports leagues and attend various camps. I am a firm believer in keeping kids active and playing! For this reason I have compiled a list of the top five reasons that kids should PLAY.

One. Health. Overall, kids that play outside are physically healthier kiddos. They are running, jumping, throwing, catching, lifting, carrying, etc. All of those activities require muscles and motor skills which help prevent obesity, as well as strengthen bones and muscles. Many children now have vitamin D deficiencies and playing in the sun is an easy way to naturally build up vitamin D.

Two. Social. Unstructured play teaches kids how to share and develop positive behavioral skills. Generally speaking, they are more likely to have a greater imagination as they are being inventive, exploring, and learning about the world around them by using their own abilities. Through playing with others they are learning how to communicate and cooperate in a way that is socially acceptable. And for the parents, outside play helps reduce stress levels!

Three. Senses. Kiddos learn new things by using their senses. Just think about it for a second. A child is playing in the park and sees a dog. The kiddo typically stops to watch the dog. Many want to touch the dog. Others listen to the dog bark. That one interaction with a dog has allowed that child to learn about the world using various senses. On the other hand, those children that stay inside and watch a screen are merely using a few senses for hours. This can negatively affect the development of their perception.

Four. Attention Span. Children that regularly play outdoors are more curious and self-directed. They can stay focused on a task longer than those who do not play outdoors regularly. Studies have even shown that children diagnosed with ADHD who spend significant time outdoors exhibit fewer symptoms than the children that do not spend time outdoors.

Five. Happiness. It is a proven fact that outdoor light stimulates the pineal gland and this part of the brain is vital to keeping our immune system strong and makes us feel happier. This can improve our mood and overall happiness. And as an added bonus, those that grow up experiencing nature and more likely to grow into adults that also appreciate nature and in turn protect the environment.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
— GB Shaw

Parties at My Little Play Place!

If you have very young children, ages 5 and under, you are seriously missing out if you haven't been to My Little Play Place in Waco!  It is like Disneyland for babies and toddlers!  There's so much for them to do - and the moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers can play with the kiddos, sit back and relax, catch up on emails, or visit with other adults.  It's a win, win for everyone!

Take that awesomeness and combine it with one of the many parties that My Little Play Place throws throughout the year, now you have DisneyWORLD!  

Throughout the year My Little Play Place throws parties (usually with a holiday theme).  They've had Valentine's, Easter, Halloween and Christmas parties - as well as a Super Hero party.  There is a small fee to participate in a party of $4 per child in addition to the regular play admission.  That extra $4 will grant your child access to crafts, cookie decorating, and a photograph.  I'll be honest...the kids LOVE the cookie decorating the best and the parents LOVE the photographs!

Sadie is enjoying the cookie she decorated so diligently!

Sadie is enjoying the cookie she decorated so diligently!

As a parent, I want photographs of my children with various holiday themes, but I don't want to pay for a whole session (or even a mini-session) centered around that holiday theme.  I want one photograph of my child on Valentine's Day.  I don't need five.  For me, THIS is the reason the parties are so worth it!  My kids LOVE the play place, but combine it with a party and it's seriously a super fun day that you guys won't soon forget.

The next party is scheduled for Tuesday, May 9th.  We will be celebrating Mother's Day!

If you have any ideas for future party themes, please share them!  Jamie at My Little Play Place and myself are always looking for new ideas.


Party With Us At My Little Play Place!

For over a year now Smith Family Photography has been invited to photograph little party-goers at My Little Play Place in Waco throughout the year...and it's time for the My Little Play Place Christmas Party!  Party-goers decorate cookies, visit the photo booth for a photograph, and PLAY!  

Where:  My Little Play Place

When:  Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Cost:  $4.00 per child in addition to regular admission

The photography background for this party will be holiday themed and Santa hats will be available to wear during your little one's photo.


At the last party we had a great turnout and we saw several smiling ghouls and goblins!  We hope to see all those friends plus more at the Christmas Party!


If you have an idea for a party theme, please let us know and we will see if we can make it happen!  Hope to see you on December 13th!

Just Hangin' Out at the Ranch

When clients contact me inquiring about sessions they most often times ask me for suggestions as far as locations for the session.  As a photographer I have several favorite places to suggest, but I love it when they say they are looking for a rustic, country type setting.  When they tell me that they would like that type of setting I almost always suggest my husband's family ranch between Groesbeck and Buffalo, Texas. 

The family ranch has a unique setting with an array of scenery.  There is an old fashioned type cabin that is constructed from wood and materials from the original farm house, a party barn, and my personal favorite...a covered bridge!

As I meet the family at the ranch I like to spend a few minutes touring the grounds with them and just talking to them.  I like to make my clients feel relaxed and comfortable before we introduce them to the camera. 

We begin our tour by walking past the back of the party barn heading towards the quilting house.  The afternoon sunlight shines beautifully between the two buildings!

Photo between the two buildings

Photo between the two buildings

In that same area there is a beautiful flowing bush that makes for a gorgeous backdrop!

In that same area there is a beautiful flowing bush that makes for a gorgeous backdrop!

From this point we meander to the main attraction...The Covered Bridge!  It is unique and full of fun photograph ideas! 

The children are the focus of the parents' lives.

The children are the focus of the parents' lives.

When the mother saw this photograph on my Facebook page as a "Sneak Peek," she immediately messaged me and told me how much this photograph described her and her husband's outlook on their family.  She said, "The kids are the focus of our lives."

I really wanted to get some photographs of this amazing family on the bridge, but the sun was still too high in the sky at this particular moment.  We had to wait...plain and simple.  The adults talked about life and the kids enjoyed running around playing a friendly game of chase.

Sister had a slight advantage in the game of chase!

Sister had a slight advantage in the game of chase!

The sun finally set enough so we could take some photographs on the covered bridge without being blinded by the sun!  We had to take a family photograph of course and we ended with a fun shot of mom and dad as well.  It was a perfect session by many accounts!  Perfect family.  Perfect weather.  Perfect location.  PERFECT!

"Family is the most important thing in the world." - Princess Diana

If you're interested in scheduling a family session, I'd love the chance to discuss session possibilities with you!