What do I do to make sure my kids are not a crabby mess for their family photo session? This is the top question I am asked when families are booking their family photo sessions with me. First of all, let me tell you, it’s OKAY if your kids are crabby! I’m a mamma of four, so I get it. Babies, toddlers, and kids (even hubbies) get crabby during their family photo sessions. It is completely expected and completely normal! My job as your professional photographer is to work with your kids (and hubby, haha) to quickly turn things around and make your family photo session fun for everyone, even the crabbiest of toddlers. However, there are a few things you can do to get your kids, toddlers, and babies ready for a successful, crabby-free family photo session.
It’s important to start talking to your kids about the family photo session ahead of time. I suggest talking about it when you start looking for outfits or when you start choosing a location for your session. Let the kids take part in the planning process. Offer to let them bring their favorite “lovie” or toy to get a special photo with. Tell them that the photo session is something fun for the whole family to do together! The more excited you sound, the more excited and cooperative they will be when the day comes.
Another way to help them get excited it is to talk about the photographer! Show them a photo of your photographer. Tell them everything you know about him or her: “Kelly has a little girl your age too!” “Kelly took photos of you when you were a baby!” or “Kelly went to the movies last week and split soda all over her and her kids thought it was so funny.” (follow me on social media–I’m sure I will give lots of good material for you to use to get them to laugh).
There’s nothing worse than a toddler or child wearing an itchy dress or clothes that are too tight. That will be the only thing on their mind if they are wearing uncomfortable clothing. Also consider the weather when choosing an outfit for your kids. Dressing them in a cute dress on a cold wintery day will bring lots a tears, I promise.
If we are shooting your family photo session outdoors and not in the studio, I prefer shooting one to two hours before sunset or one to two hours after sunrise. This gives me the best light to work with when shooting outdoors, to create gorgeous images for your family. However, if this absolutely does not coordinate with your child’s nap schedule, it will NOT give you gorgeous images. So be sure to consider how your session time will work with your child’s schedule. If you think your kiddos will not do well shooting at these times, I suggest scheduling your session time right after a nap.
Oh my goodness, I have made this mistake before and it is not a fun one to make! Hungry kids (and husbands) are probably the crabbiest of all. Of course you do not want to feed the kids while they are dressed in their best for their family photo session. Eat right before heading out to your session; just make sure you leave time for a quick change into their outfits after eating. For toddlers, be sure to still bring along a non-messy snack like cheerios, popcorn, baby puffs, or marshmallows to munch on and keep those growling tummies away (or to use as brides!). Another good bribe for kids is the promise of a trip for ice cream after a fun photo session.
Parents want their kids to have authentic smiles (and lots of giggles) for the photographer to capture during their family photo session. Choosing the right photographer is probably the most important way to be sure your kids are cooperative and happy during that one hour of family photos. Remember to choose someone who has experience and specializes in photographing kids. A photographer who is excellent with kids often comes highly recommended!