When I sat down to prepare this post, I thought how in the world am I going to narrow it down to just 6 tips? I could write a book on this topic! For families with small children, it can be a real challenge to get everyone to cooperate and I’ve seen it all. So, I thought I would share my experience in hopes that it makes your life a little bit easier the next time you have family photos taken. Here they are:
- Schedule your family session at least 4-6+ weeks out with your photographer. This will give you time to thoughtfully prepare your wardrobe (which I will argue is THE most important part of the whole experience) and mentally prepare your family. Talk to your kids and tell them ahead of time how much fun it will be and how excited you are! Your enthusiasm should rub off on them! You could also tell them that you have a special friend who is going to take your picture (heck, you can even show them my picture). The point is so that they feel comfortable around me (a somewhat familiar face) and not scared.
- Mom is front and center. When I’m styling a session for a client, I always pick the mom’s outfit first and everything else revolves around that. I like to think of her as the anchor of the photoshoot (and of the family in real life). And let’s be real, these photos are for her anyways, so she gets to be front and center. And I also tell my clients not to hesitate in sending me pictures of their outfits and getting my feedback. You want to look and feel your best….which brings me to……
- Get your hair and make-up professionally done. It makes all the difference in the world, trust me. Those professionals know how to make you look your best…and if mama looks good, then everyone else looks and feels good too.
- Never skip a nap. Naps are life and the absence of one is recipe for a very cranky/uncooperative little person. I suggest just shifting your normal routine that day to accommodate the evening photo session. We want the little ones refreshed, fed and happy for the family session.
- Load up on candy. Children under 5 are always the most cooperative the first 20 minutes of the session. After that, their just over it and they don’t want a camera in their face anymore. It’s understandable, so I encourage parents to bring something that might entice them to participate a little bit longer…and candy (or some other sweet treat) usually does the trick! Just make sure it won’t stain their faces! I was the idiot mama who brought a blue sucker for my son once during our family pictures…yeah it stained his lips blue during the shoot. Palm hitting face.
- Check your expectations. Kids are kids. It seems like when it’s the least opportune time, some little person is crying or having a bad day or sick or tired. I just tell parents to keep calm, no stress and we’ll work through it. There is no perfect family and despite what you see on social media, I’m sure for every perfect family photo you see out there with happy, perfect smiling faces…it took 100 bad photos to get that one!