You've book your family a photo session, after seeing all the insta moms post their fairytale perfectly aesthetic family pics. You've spent the money, you've got the outfits, but one thing still looms over your head; What if my kids 'ruin' the pictures? Now, there's not really such a thing as ruining them, but you can see it now. Screaming, crying, no cute smiles, not listening to the photographer... your hair goes grey at the very thought of it. But wait! Before you fervently cancel your session, I'm here to tell you that you aren't alone in your fears, and it isn't all that to worry about because you can be prepared.
Think about it: kids don't know the importance of having professional photos taken and why these little moments are so essential to capture. To them, they're in stuffy clothes, being forced to smile at a stranger who's probably making weird sounds at them to look at the camera and say 'cheese!' I would probably cry too if I didn't understand what was happening. Based on my years of experiences working as a family photographer, there's some advice I have to offer on how to ensure the session goes smoothly for children of all ages.
1 | Preparing the Babies and Toddlers
These ages usually seem the most daunting to parents. These little rascals are unpredictable, and truthfully could flip out at any moment. Fear not, there's some easy fixes to their awaited meltdowns. The biggest thing for babies and toddlers is to make sure they are well rested and well fed. Hungry tummies and tired eyes make for very angry small people, so it's best to just avoid that at all costs. Another thing to note is their routine; scheduling a photoshoot during nap time is probably not the best way to set your family up for success. If for some reason your session does overlap with a regular nap or meal time, just try to be flexible and patient with them. Additionally, snacks in moms purse or dads pockets never hurts, but stay away from anything messy or that would take too long to eat.
2 | Preparing Older Children
For older children, it's all about prepping them beforehand to try and make taking pictures an exciting experience. Introduce them your photographer so they don't seem like a stranger, show them a photo of the photographer, take them shopping for their picture outfit/give them input, and show them some of their work! If you are having a shoot with me, you can show them photos from my page. It can also be helpful to let them know how long the shoot will take and what will all happen while they are there!
I often see parents discussing a “treat” or "reward" that will happen after the shoot to keep them focused! These “treats” have included watching their favorite movie, stopping to get ice cream, going to the park, etc. While engaging your child in the moment, it also will leave positive memories from doing a photo shoot. "I got my pictures taken..." is much more fun when followed by "Then we went for ice cream!" As with the younger kids, it is a great idea to bring some snacks and drinks with you in case your child gets hungry!
3 | What Happens if My Child Has a 'Moment'
It is very possible that your child might make a scene during the session. I always anticipate this happening at some point, and most experienced family photographers do too. If it happens, don’t worry! Parents tend to get stressed out or embarrassed when their kid freaks out a little, and trust me, as a mom myself I've seen it all. It isn't all downhill from there when your kiddo flips, a lot of photographers can even capture some perfect personality in these 'moments.' I have had so many mom’s reach out in shock that I was able to sneak in some of their favorite photos during their little one’s meltdown... so believe me when I say it is possible to find method in the madness!
Another gentle reminder not to worry about your too much about your kids having a 'moment' during the session. Again, as a mom, I totally understand the fear, but I promise I will not be there with judging eyes as your kid expresses their big feelings during a pretty new experience. We'll take things as they come and adapt to them.
I’d love to hear how these tips to use before your next family photo shoot helped you! If you have any other tips that I can share with other parents, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org !