7 tips to get your kids ready for your professional family photos

by | Children and family portrait photography, Helpful info for clients, How-to photography tips

We all know that getting young children to cooperate just when you need them to can sometimes be a challenge. And if you’re investing a professional family photos, concern over your kids acting out during the session can be very stressful.

Here then are a few tips to help you prepare your kids (and yourself) for a successful family portrait session, one in which your family is captured at is blissful best:

Tips to get the most from your professional family photos

Tip #1: Book the appropriate amount of photography time: If you’re including young children in your family photography session, it’s important that you book a session time that is long enough for your photographer to create the family portraits that you desire, but not so long that your young ones get impatient and cranky. And experience shows us that getting kids back on board for smiley family photos after they’ve had a mini meltdown can be near impossible.

If you’re considering professional family photos in just one location, with just one or two outfits, then a one-hour photo session may cover it, but if you’re thinking about an outdoor location with lots of background scenes, or if your kids like to run around, then a two-hour session may be better.  Larger families, or those planning lots of outfit changes and/or multiple locations should definitely consider a two hour session (or longer?)…but you’ll need to plan how you’ll keep your kids happy and engaged throughout the extended session time.

Tip #2: Get your kids on board in advance: A week or two before your professional family photos, start talking with your children about the upcoming photo shoot. Talk with them about how exciting it is, how much fun you will all have, and how much they’ll love visiting whatever location(s) you’ve selected for your portraits. Talk with them too about how important it is to you that they be on their best behavior. And if you have a family event planned for after the shoot, even just a family meal at their favorite venues or a visit to the cinema, you can let them know about that too, to further their enthusiasm.

Tip #3: Bribes are encouraged: If you know your kids respond well to rewards in return for good behavior, then the day of your professional family photos might be a good day to take advantage of that. Just remember that super-sticky treats, or rewards that stained clothes and/or skin, might not be the best idea immediately before or during the photo session.

Tip #4: Happy grown-ups equal happy kids: If you’re stressed and frustrated while getting ready for the shoot, or on the drive to your photographer, then you can expect your kids to be the same. For the day of your professional family photos, aim to be happy and upbeat around your kids (even if you’re faking it a little). Now, happy grown-ups will not guarantee happy kids, but never did grumpy, shouty grown-ups result in photographs of happy, smiling kids.

Instead, before and during the photo shoot, be super-encouraging to your kids. If they like doing little tricks or telling stories, then encourage them to show off a little to keep them engaged. Ask them to tell your photographer about things they like, or where you’re all going after the shoot. Commit to yourself that you’re going to have a great time with your kids during the shoot, and let that joy lift everyone’s spirits throughout the session.

Tip #5: Remember, you hired a professional: During the shoot, let your photographer work with your kids to encourage them into happy, engaged portraits. There’s no need for you to command your kids to sit up straight or smile at the camera…in fact, sometimes it can be counter productive or contrary to what the photographer is trying to achieve for you. Remember the commitment you made to yourself to have a great time with your kids during your professional family photos? Instead of worrying about your child’s posture or facial expressions, talk with your kids, swap jokes with them, play little games…and let your photographer worry about creating the images. If things aren’t exactly going to plan, that’s OK…families aren’t always perfect. There’s no need to get stressed or threaten to take away promised rewards. Your stress will just transfer to your child and the shoot will deteriorate into a mess of tears and tantrums. Instead, stay upbeat and your photographer will bring everything together.

Tip #6: Create a time limit: Sometimes kids are easier to work with when they know there’s a limit to photo session time, especially when they know there’s a reward after the session. Use your watch or a clock or a timer to make a little game out of when the session will be over (“…when the big hand gets to the 6 we’re all going out for pizza!”). Incorporating a timing device can help take their attention away from the seemingly limitless photo activities and direct it towards something they can visualize and focus on.

Tip #7: Give ‘em a good scrubbing: Here’s a few suggestions to give your photographer the best opportunity to capture beautiful images of your little angels while they are at their most angelic:

  • Make sure their hands are washed and their fingernails are trimmed and clean.
  • Brush their hair, and bring their brush or comb for quick tidy-ups as needed throughout the shoot.
  • Wash their faces. Bring along some wet wipes or a damp face cloth (in a zip lock bag), for a quick wipe over as needed throughout the shoot.
  • Consider bringing an extra top or extra outfit for your little ones, in case there’s a mid-shoot sippy-cup incident (or worse).
  • If you’re doing an outdoor shoot in warmer weather, consider applying personal insect repellant so your kids are distracted by itchy bug bites.

Now, there’s no guarantee that following these tips will ensure that your little ones will be on the best behavior ever for your photo shoot, but a little preparation (and maybe a little bribery) will go a long way towards creating beautiful family photos that you will cherish forever.

Related: What to wear for your family photos or family portrait session.

Interested in working with Truly Madly Deeply for your professional family photography session, in our studio or outdoors on location? Give us a call at the studio on (912) 642-8000, use the Contact Form to send us a message.

Do you have other ideas about how to encourage kids to be on their best behavior for a family photo shoot? Leave a comment below and share your experiences.