You’ve spent weeks painstakingly planning and dreaming about your family’s scheduled photoshoot. You’ve lost track of the amount of time you spent scouring the internet for the perfect photographer whose style and brand speaks to your heart. Your evenings have been spent gathering style inspo from Pinterest and your gorgeous new photos are already hanging from your home’s walls in your mind. Then after all the preparation, you get to your session and your kids start to melt down and want absolutely nothing to do with your photographer. They’re PO’d that you’d even suggest they should smile and look at the camera. Does that sound familiar? An hour which was meant to be a fun family experience frolicking through a field turns into something straight out of your worst nightmares. So how do you set yourself up for success going into your session?
Take care of your little one’s physical needs before your session
Is your session time close to meal time or close to bed time? Make sure everyone eats or has a BIG snack before your session. Happy bellies translate into happier pictures. If your kids are still napping, push their naps a little later in the day than usual so they feel more rested before your evening session. Emotions are amplified when our children are hangry and running on fumes.
If your kids are old enough to understand, give them an idea of what they’re walking into
Any deviation from your kid’s routine can throw them for a loop. Letting them know ahead of time what’s planned will work in your favor. Saying lighthearted things like, “we’re meeting my friend Auzar on our favorite hiking trail today. She loves to have fun and she’s going to take a few pictures for us!” gives them a heads up that they’re going to be hanging out with me so they don’t feel surprised and uncomfortable as soon as they arrive.
Embrace your kiddo’s wildness and curiosity
On a normal day would you redirect your kiddo’s attention from discovery and play? If the answer is, “no” then there’s no reason to reign them in while we’re together. As a lifestyle photographer, my heart’s desire is to genuinely capture you and your family and to deliver photographs from your session that are full of real emotion and real smiles. These kinds of moments aren’t created by forcing your kids into contrived situations and poses- the magic happens when they are allowed to play and freely interact with you and the environment around them.
Avoid threats and harsh words
Nothing sends a child who is already feeling unsure of things spiraling faster than feeling like they’re disappointing you or that you’re upset with them. Directions full of pressure are not your ally and might cause your kiddo to withdraw or act out more. Your children are little people who feel really big emotions at times, and they look to you to help them understand the tone and the mood of the experience they’re about to have.
And if all else fails- keep smiling
Oftentimes kids will get through a tough or extra wiggly moment on their own with a change of scenery or as something new catches their eye. Even if they don’t, take a deep breath and keep smiling. It may surprise you to see what I can still capture – even in the midst of chaos- if you remember to keep a smile on your face.
I’m not only a photographer but I’m a momma and a nurse too. There’s not much I haven’t seen or heard in the last decade. Not to mention, I’m also a twin, so there’s not much I haven’t done or put my own mother through as a kid. I come well prepared to keep your kiddos entertained and engaged. Between these tips and the tricks I keep up my sleeve, I know we will capture photographs that you will treasure for years to come. Opportunities for parents to be fully present in the moment with their little ones can be far and few between. Take this hour and soak in all the things that make your little people so incredibly special- even if that’s their curiosity and their wildness.