7 tips to get your kids ready for your professional family photos | Oviedo & Orlando Photographer

by Family photography, Photography tips

Advice to parents to help ensure cooperative kids for your professional family photos

All parents know convincing young children to cooperate can be a challenge. But if you’re investing in professional family photos, concerns about your kids acting out during the session can be especially stressful.

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

Tip #1: Book the appropriate amount of photography time

If you’re including young children in your family photography session, the length of the shoot can be crucial.

Of course, you need enough time for your photographer to create the family portraits that you desire.

But you also need to make sure it’s not so long that your young ones get impatient and cranky. 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 will likely 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 might be a better option.

Very large families, or those planning lots of outfit changes and/or multiple locations should definitely consider a two-hour session. 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 photoshoot. Talk with them about how exciting it is, how much fun you will all have. And discuss how much they’ll love visiting the location(s) you’ve selected for your portraits.

Talk with them too about how important it is that they be on their best behavior. And if you have a family outing planned for after the shoot, talk about that too. Even if it’s just a meal at their favorite venues or a visit to the cinema, it will boost their enthusiasm.

Tip #3: 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.

On the day of your professional family photos, aim to be happy and upbeat around your kids (even if you’re faking it a little). Grumpy grown-ups during the session make it less likely that you’ll have photographs of happy, smiling kids.

Instead, before and during the photoshoot, 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. Also, 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. Let that joy lift everyone’s spirits throughout the session.


Tip #4: 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 for your professional family photos. In fact, sometimes it can be counter productive or contrary to what the photographer is trying to achieve for you.

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 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. Remember that commitment you made to have a great time during your professional family photos (see Tip #3)?

Tip #5: Bribes are encouraged

If you know your kids are more likely to behave well in response to (or anticipation of) a reward or treat, then your professional family photo session might be a good time to use that to your advantage.

Just remember: Super-sticky treats, or rewards that stain clothes and/or skin, should be avoided until AFTER the photo session.

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 fact they’re being photographed 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 a 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.

In conclusion

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that these tips will ensure that your little ones will be on the best behavior ever for your photoshoot. But a little preparation (and maybe a little bribery) will go a long way toward 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 (321) 341-3000, 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 photoshoot? Leave a comment below and share your experiences.


  1. Samantha Jackson

    So helpful! I don’t know why I felt like I needed to be told it’s okay to bribe my kids so they behave during our photo shoot, but that was total validation for me! lol

    Our real issues though have been in finding a good photographer we can trust where we are (I wish we lived near by so we could book you!!!). We usually do a family shoot every holiday season (no matter how much my husband objects lol) and lots of photographers have nice pictures on their website, but their work doesn’t always live up to expectations.

    • Katerina

      Hi Samantha! We know a lot of photographers around the country, so if you’d like to let us know your area, perhaps we can give you a tip. Another great resource is Professional Photographers of America … you can search their database for a photographer near you. – Katerina

  2. Michaela Hemsley

    I like your tip to make sure to book the right amount of time for family pictures since you want to make sure you have enough time to get everything, but not so much that younger kids will get restless. My husband and I would like to have family portraits done soon so that we can start getting our Christmas cards ready. Since both our kids are younger, we’ll have to talk to the photographer we choose about what time length they think would be best so we can get the best pictures possible.

    • Katerina

      Hi Michaela. We typically find that a one-hour session is best for most families, so the kids don’t run out of steam. If you choose a photographer with lots of experience working with families like yours, I’m sure they’ll provide great advice, taking in the number of locations you want to shoot at and the number of outfit changes you might want. More locations and more outfits ensure more variety in your images but, of course, requires more time. Good luck and happy holidays! – Katerina

  3. Fotoshooting Kinder

    The pictures are very nice and professionally taken. Looking forward to much more articles.


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Maternity and Newborn Photography

2191 Catbriar Way,
Oviedo, Florida U.S.A.
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Ph:  (321) 341-3000
Email:  contact@tmd.photo 


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