Okay, so you have just booked your first professional family photo session and are now wondering what to do to make sure your kids are ready. You want it to be perfect, to capture your kids’ youthful essence, the joy and love you feel for them. You want to remember just how small they are right now. Before you blink again and they are a year older, 2 inches taller, and left wondering how they once fit so perfectly in your arms. You want these photos to represent how you truly feel about your family, imperfectly perfect in your own way.
So let’s get started! Let’s talk about how to make it easier for you and your family as well as your photographer to grab all those sweet giggles and smiles. These tips can be applied to children as young as they can understand verbal instruction and even up to teenagers.
First things first, let’s make sure everyone has been fed because who wants to get their photos taken when they are hungry! That’s an easy first. Make sure everyone has had a meal least 2 hours before your schedule shoot. It doesn’t have to be a big meal, but be sure that no one is going to be hungry during the shoot, but also not too full. For toddlers and babies make sure they have been fed and bring their favorite snacks. If your kids get hyper with sugar and you don’t want them to that way, make sure they haven’t had anything that overexcites them before your session. I’ll talk more about this below.
Get kids used to the idea of an upcoming event way before it happens. This is particularly important for young kids. Start talking to them about their photo day and identifying your photographer by name and as a friend. Start by saying “Ana, my friend, is going to be taking photos of us.” Kids will get used to hearing about this “stranger” before they even meet the photographer. This will start building trust with kids. If there’s no trust, there’s no smiles. However, if they start hearing about “Ana, mommy’s friend” and how excited you are about these photos, they will also be excited and will want to meet Ana. Even better show them a photo of your photographer!
For older children, it’s important to explain why you are doing this and why it’s important to your family. If you have any, show them photos of their grandparents or of you at their age and how important it’s to keep and preserve these memories. Talk about how cool it will be for them to show these photos to their friends or kids one day. Entice them with a new “profile photo” for their social media. Set expectations of how you expect them to behave, but also make it fun!
You want the perfect family photo with everyone looking and smiling at the camera. However, resist the urge to say “Don’t smile like that! Give me your real smile.” How we can get genuine smiles is to make your child laugh or smile. That’s why I like to focus on being silly and playing games with them to get those genuine smiles. At the end of the day, you know your kids best! You know how to make them laugh, so let’s get everyone laughing for those sweet giggles.
This is an excellent way to give kids something to look forward to after your photoshoot. Lollipops, candy, toys, ice cream given afterwards are a great way to get kids on board for the shoot. Make sure to bring some snacks, water, and anything else you feel your kids might need. Reframe from too much sugar, if this makes your kids too hyper. To avoid unplanned stains, try to choose snacks that are “clean.” This will reduce any stress
If there is an item your child finds comforting, make sure to bring it with you. This will give the child something to hold on to, and also something to use to get those giggles out.
Car rides have a magical sleep effect on kids as well as adults. On most days, this is awesome for parents, but on photo day, reframe from this. It usually takes a bit longer for kids to get adjusted to the new environment, wake up, and be ready. Not only that, almost all the time, most wanted to more sleep anyway. Being woken a little sooner than what you would want can make anyone cranky.
Kids are so perceptive and pick up on your mood easily. So let go of all expectations and have fun. They will also start having fun with you. Let this be a time for you and your family to create new memories. With social media ever so present in our lives, and being bombarded with perfect photos, it’s natural to also want your perfect family photo. However, let me release you from that. Don’t be bound to the idea of perfection, that is not the point of these family portraits. These are meant more as a glimpse at what life looks like now. So one day you can come back smile, laugh, and reminisce on this awesome day with the people you love most.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Let me know if you used any of these in the comments below! I would love to hear all about it. You can learn more about how to book a session with Ana Ruan Photography, San Diego Family Photographer or follow me on Instagram or Facebook!