You’ve booked your family photo session, chosen a gorgeous location, and have perfectly coordinated outfits ready to go… if you’re like most moms, you’re now crossing all of your fingers and toes, hoping and praying that your kiddos cooperate, so that your photographer can capture beautiful images of your family. As an experienced family photographer in Jacksonville, FL and a former elementary school teacher, I’m not worried about your children’s behavior or their attitude about taking pictures. I know how to channel high energy into organized fun and games. I know how to get a shy and nervous little one to feel comfortable and come out of their shell. I know how to bring out genuine laughs and smiles that showcase everyone’s personality. As your photographer, I’m truly not worried.
As a mom of 3, though, I also understand the stress and anxiety parents sometimes feel on photo session day. You’ve worked so hard and invested a lot to make this happen; to have this moment in time captured. And you just want it to all go smoothly. As your family photographer, it is my job to help make sure you have a great portrait experience. If you really want to help ensure photo success, however, there are a few things you can do both before and during your session to help your kids put their best foot forward. Here are my…
It’s important that your kids know what to expect. And they should expect greatness! Family sessions are all about showing the love you share for each other, so help get them excited by talking about how much fun you’ll all be having together! At my sessions, we play games and I provide engaging prompts, so it’s much more like a family playdate then anything else. These sessions are usually very high energy and if your kids believe that you’re pumped up and excited for it, they most likely will be too.
Make sure that everyone’s clothing fits properly and is weather appropriate. If anyone’s outfit is too tight, too loose, riding up, falling down, too warm, not warm enough, or too itchy scratchy during the session, it’s far less likely that you’ll appear happy and relaxed in your photos. This is especially true for children. Allowing older kids a say in what they will wear is another way to get them on board for picture day. This doesn’t mean throwing coordination out the window, but even getting to decide between a couple of preapproved options will help them feel in control. Do you want to wear a button up or a short-sleeved shirt? A dress or a skirt? Hair up or down? Outfit A or outfit B? If you feel good in your clothes, it shows, so make sure they feel good!
Even as adults we can get cranky if we are tired and hungry, so make sure that everyone is well rested and fed before your photo session. Having young children take a nap prior to the shoot will work wonders for their longevity and overall mood throughout the session. If your pictures will be taken in between meals, a snack may be a good idea prior to the photo shoot, but avoid having kids consume foods that will make a mess of their lovely outfits and faces. You can even wait to dress children until after you’ve arrived at your photo location, helping you to avoid both potential snack stains and wrinkles. Then everyone will be well rested, fed, and looking their best… an easy recipe for success!
If you think it will help your kiddos throughout your session, I say, go for it! For older children, I often have parents that plan an ice cream outing for after their photos. Not only does this give kids an incentive to cooperate during the session, but it also allows you to continue making family memories together even after we’re done with pictures. Little ones, on the other hand, often need instant gratification. A small treat or snack, that can be slowly divvied out throughout the photo shoot, can be so helpful. I suggest something small that can easily be popped in their mouth or hidden and that won’t make a mess. Save the chocolate for later and pick a treat like gummies, Smarties, or mini marshmallows instead.
Your children may not offer genuine smiles or behave absolutely perfectly throughout the entire photo session and that’s ok. They’re children. It happens. When this does occur, try to react calmly and patiently. Redirect their attention or engage them in laughter and family playfulness. There is nothing that sucks the joy out of a photo session more than when a child is yelled at for not smiling the “right” way or for having the wrong energy level, whether that’s too much or too little. This does not mean, of course, that I expect you to allow your children free reign to act however they want, but by trying to stay positive even as we redirect, it will help them remain positive, too.
I hope these tips help you to feed confident and worry-free walking into your next family photo session! But remember, family photographers expect to have to wrangle excited kids and act like a clown to capture their attention. Let us do the work, while you focus on having an incredible time with your loved ones!
Erin of Erin Elyse Photography is a Jacksonville Family Photographer in Northeast Florida. Erin specializes in beautifully capturing your timeless memories and turning them into luxurious works of art. Also serving the families of Ponte Vedra, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, St. Augustine, Riverside, San Marco, Nocatee, Mandarin, Fleming Island and the surrounding areas of Northeast Florida.