Raising my children here in the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne some of my favorite memories with them have been out in nature. We have done semi-structured nature play through playgroup, farm school and our local Landcare nature playgroup. We also regularly do our own nature activities as a family. My kids adore splashing in creeks, playing in the mud, climbing trees and logs, and going on bug or scavenger hunts. There is just something so magical about kids in nature but for many families getting outdoors all together like this doesn't happen as often as we would like. For that reason I try to incorporate child led nature play into my photoshoots whenever possible.

At this session when I first met the Coombe cousins at their cars I told them we were going on a fun forest adventure. They immediately got excited and asked if it was a bear hunt. When we got to our first location the two eldest immediately picked up sticks and of course the instinctive reaction was to tell them to put them down. I assured the adults with them we could embrace their energy and inquisitiveness and that it was great if they wanted to explore. I had the boys use their sticks like ninjas and they loved it and we got gorgeous candid photos. They then ran up and down the steps and were then puffed enough to allow me to get a few semi-posed shots of the group together. As the session went on we examined bugs, jumped up and down and played peekaboo. When the youngest of the boys, aged 2, was being tricky I asked what he was interested in. I was told he loved dinosaurs so his nana and I took him on a dino hunt amongst the trees. The two oldest then started getting competitive balancing on logs and we finished up by playing ring-a-rosie in the long grass around the baby.

This was such a great shoot full of energy and candid moments and with zero tears or meltdowns which is why I love just letting children play in nature and embrace it when a session goes in that direction.

Boy balancing on log during photoshoot in Melbourne
Boy playing with sticks during outdoor family photoshoot in Dandenongs
Children playing in forest in Sassafras at photoshoot
Boy playing with tree in bush in Melbourne
Baby girl amongst leaves in forest at Sassafras
Children playing ring-a-rosie during outdoor photoshoot
Three boys against stone wall cuddling and laughing
Boy doing nature play during family lifestyle photoshoot
Lifestyle family photos in forest in Sassafras
Playing during forest adventure family photoshoot in Melbourne

If you are ready to engage in some nature play with your children and want to arrange a session please head to my contact form and I will be in touch.

If your little ones have energy to burn I suggest a walk at Pirianda Gardens or a play at Olinda Playspace.

Kate Cashin is a family photographer based in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

She specialises in nature sessions and forest adventures with the motto "Play. Move. Explore.".