Have you ever ….. dreaded family picture day? Or do you look forward to it? Have you ever shown up to a session and became completely overwhelmed when your child cried the whole time, or tucked their face away anytime the photographer came near? Or maybe this is your first time taking family photos with small children.
When you have littles, taking pictures can seem like the scary unknown! They can be hard to predict and … they might even act like kids! 😉 If you’re looking for a few simple ways to heighten your chances of success to have happy kids and beautiful photos of them, look no further. I’ve got you covered!
Ok, no brainer here, but my GOLDEN RULE for happy kids is to give them a nap the day of (I might have even driven around for an hour before a session) and feed them a full meal before it’s time to leave – or eat on the way – not in their nice clothes though!
Since I prefer to shoot at sunset, AKA bedtime for most toddlers, this is kind of a big deal. You are probably already doing these things, but sometimes the day can get away and this will require deliberate effort. Either case, you will thank yourself for putting in the effort to make it happen 🙂
Add something to look forward to! For example, ice cream/a treat afterward, or a play at a nearby park (even though they’re already up late). You can also take my last tip, and maybe grab a happy meal for dinner on the way if you’re into that.
In the checklist provided, I’ve put my picture in there so you can show your kiddos! Or you can swing over to Instagram and find one!
Say something like “this is Helena, tomorrow we are going to meet her at a place outside, and she’s going to hang out with us for a while, and even take our pictures! You know how I like to take pictures of you on my phone? Well, I want to be in some pictures with you – and she is going to help us! She is really nice and when we’re done, we will even get to put some of the pictures up in our house. Don’t you think that will be FUN? (build the excitement)”
There’s an easy script for you 🙂 You can add in all the fun stuff you’re planning, but building up the experience for days helps little kids a lot. You can even show them some quick behind the scenes videos of photographers working so they can imagine what it will be like. I did this with my daughter for her first haircut (she’s 2) and she was a complete angel when we finally did get her haircut!
This tip allows you to eat in the car, make a mess in the car, and just be normal in the car. It seems that either kids find something in the car seat that we forgot about, or their outfits get wrinkly (especially on longer drives). Arrive a few minutes early (if you can) to change clothes, change diapers, and get some wiggles out!
I will be happy to supply the snacks if you’d like! Or you can bring your own. By clean, I mean literally clean. They can be healthy, too, if you want. Basically remember that we don’t want anything too big, or orange (think Cheetos), or messy (like an applesauce pouch). I recommend snacks like apple slices, smarties, fruit snacks, mini marshmallows, nuts, or cheerios.
Most of the images we will capture together won’t necessarily be posed, directed images. Usually I sit there for a while and just follow you around, hitting the shutter as you play, talk, and cuddle. Have fun! When the moment is right, I will say something. Hopefully they are warmed up to me by then 🙂
Don’t be stressed, as much as you can manage. You are doing a great job, building a beautiful family. I won’t be judging you, I have 3 kids of my own 🙂 and I want this session to be a success for you, probably just as much as you do! It’s going to be great!
Ok, there you have it, my best tips for happy kids at your family photo session!