I have this feeling EVERY time I get kids ready for pictures!!

Maybe you have a session booked with me this fall, or maybe you have a session with another fellow photographer, but either way, there is a good chance you are wondering how you will prepare your kiddos and IF they will cooperate to get the most out of your session. You have invested your valuable time and money into this experience and you want it to go perfectly. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your kids for your family photography session:

There can be legit anxiety around having family photos taken and my hope is to ease some of your worries. When you become my client, you get access to some more specific details on helping your littles have the absolute best experience. But, I want to help ease your worries if you are having your photos taken by anyone so I thought I would share some helpful tips.

1. FIRST, READ MY POST Parents Survival Guide by clicking HERE. This will help give you some ideas to prepare yourself. 

2. NEXT, TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. I am a lifestyle family photographer, I have worked with so many children, do not worry that I am judging your parenting by a one hour glimpse into your life. You will be sensitive to all the minor misbehaviors, and say “they never act like this until we’re out in public” but the reality is that you’re RIGHT, they do act different in front of a stranger. It’s normal and ok. Lifestyle photography gives you the freedom to relax and let go of perfection. My job isn’t to make you look perfect or to make your children behave perfectly and sit straight up on a stiff chair with a stiff smile. Nope, not at all. My job is to show you that your children are absolutely perfect just the way they are. I’ve photographed hundreds of families and know how to get almost every child to relax and allow me to capture them. You hired me because you love what you see on my portfolio. Allow me to turn your children into art. I promise I will!!

3. TELL THEM WHAT WILL HAPPEN. (This is my favorite one!) I am a firm believer in letting children be involved with making decisions and being upfront with them. The days leading up to the session tell them that a friend is going to be taking your family photos. Tell them that we are going to go to a really fun park or beach and that we are going to play some games. Tell them that your friend will be asking them to stand and sit in a few different ways. Tell them you expect them to be in the photos and cooperate. You can tell them that it will be pretty fast. My shoots are usually 45 minutes to an hour and I still get loads of photos.

4. SHOW THEM PHOTOS OF THEMSELVES. Show them past family photos or cell phone photos. When kids know that this experience will result in a series of fun photos of themselves, they may be more excited. Even if you only have cell photos to show them, the effect is the same. Most kids LOVE to see photos of themselves. 

5. MAKE SURE THEY ARE FED & RESTED. I know. I’m asking you to shoot in the evening and sometimes it’s past their bedtime. I want your photos to have the best light possible, but I get that it’s hard with littles to keep them up late and expect them to cooperate. This can be remedied by putting them down for a late nap that day or if they don’t’ nap, clearing your schedule on photo day to allow them to rest before the shoot. Don’t go on a hike and then to a soccer game on the same day as your photo shoot. Make your photos session the main event. Feed them dinner or a big snack before the session so they aren’t hangry. Hungry kids are never easy to work with.

If you feel like it would help your kiddos, Bring a non-messy snack with you to help keep them happy and fed throughout the session. 

6. OFFER A LITTLE REWARD. Notice how I didn’t say bribe (that can actually backfire and begging “littles” to cooperate is NEVER fun!) Trust me. I have been there many times as a mom. Instead before the shoot say “as a family we are going to go out for burgers and shakes after the session is over.” Or whatever sounds good. Just make the whole experience one of bonding and fun together as a family. 

7. I WON’T MAKE THEM SMILE. If they smile, it will be because they are actually happy. I am okay with honest, pensive portraits of children. I also will never make your child leave your arms if they don’t feel comfortable.  I will capture them exploring and being themselves and then sneak in some portraits along the way. I can’t guarantee that I’ll get smiling faces, but I’ll sure try to get natural expressions for everyone!

8. SHOW THEM A PICTURE OF ME. Show them this picture or head to my ABOUT page and tell about me so I am not a strange face to them. This will make me seem more human and relatable. You can even go to my Facebook or Instagram feed and show them photos of my kids and family. Then, they know I am just like you. 🙂 

I promise you, my sessions are fun and relaxed. My objective is connection and my goal is to create memories. Most families tell me the kids actually said they had fun after my session and I think that is probably why they come back year after year. Because we actually have fun!!!

I can’t wait to work with your family and create memories for you to cherish for years to come, even the silly ones!!

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