I often have parents contact me and say “We just want ONE good picture. Just one of everyone looking at the camera and smiling.” Here’s the thing – babies, toddlers, and young children are unpredictable! You could have the most smiley babe ever who won’t crack a smile during a photo session. As a mom of two, I know from firsthand experience that moods can shift in a split second. Here are some tips to prepare for your family photo session and ensure it’s a positive experience for all (parents included!):
Lower your expectations. First, let me say this: your photos are going to be beautiful. I will capture your family in the moment, I will give you prompts, I will help with posing, suggesting locations, outfits, and finding that beautiful light. But you have to lower the expectations and pressure placed on the children. Often times we go to a location that’s new for the kids – they want to run, play and explore and aren’t ready to sit still and pose. My sessions are up to an hour long so that the kids can have the flexibility to take in their surroundings.
Preparation is key! Depending on the ages of your kiddos, tell them about the photo shoot and even practice smiles at home. My own children constantly have a camera in their face (lucky them) and I still practice smiles and fun poses before our own family photo shoots. Frame the event in a positive light (i.e., “We’re going to have so much fun! You’ll get to see a real camera with a big lens!”). Think about what incentivizes your children’s good behavior at home. In our house, I am not ashamed to admit we resort to bribery! My kids love a good trip to Target (who doesn’t?!) so after our family photo shoots, we take them to Target and they each get to pick out a toy. Sometimes they’re better behaved than my husband, let’s be honest.
Consider bringing props. I don’t provide props because each family is different in what energizes and excites them. One of my personal favorites is a bubble machine! (Just don’t forget the batteries!). My goal is to get that “perfect” shot in the first 10-15 minutes of the shoot. The rest is what I like to call “play time”. Especially if we sense that energy levels are dropping, the kids are losing focus, and boredom is kicking in. It’s the perfect time to bust out an activity. For younger kids, even consider bringing their favorite book and we can take a few minutes for story time. These also make for great, natural photos. The list of suggests is endless but just think about what makes your family uniquely yours and incorporate some of those elements into the session.
Fed and rested! Hangry is a real thing. Please make sure your little ones are fed and rested. I can work with you to schedule a session time that’s best for your family so we are not shooting right before nap time/bed time!
HAVE FUN! This is the last but most important tip! Play with your kiddos, give the tickles, pick them up, snuggle them, and just be with them. These are some of the best images as they convey a beautiful sense of family togetherness and can guarantee a stress-free, positive experience for all!