It’s here, family photos. You have been planning this day for months. You spent the last week and a half picking out outfits and making sure everyone looks good together. Your husband finally got off work and the last three hours have been pure chaos at the house: Rushing around with wet hair and making sure the kids stay looking nice for just the next twenty minutes, while you finish getting ready. You pull up to the park that you are taking photos at and get out of the car, looking like you always do: a calm, put together, happy, loving family. You meet with the photographer, all is well. But as soon as she poses everyone and goes to shoot the first photo, your squirmy, little boy decides he is over this and wants no part in family picture day. Tensions begin to rise. You feel anger boiling. Worried that you just put so much time and money into these next few hours, and you might not even get the photo of your sweet boy that you have been dreaming about. We all know this moment all too well….
It is hard to fix this problem in the heat of the moment, here are my few tips for preparing to win at your next family session.
Tip #1: Set Clear Expectations
It is not your little boys’ fault that he did not want to sit still and smile at the camera, he knows at the park you get to run around and make a mess, that is what he had expected. If your child is young enough to understand your words, make sure to explain to them, before you even leave to drive to the session, exactly what to expect. Be sure to tell them that there will be a photographer helping you taking family photos and that she will ask us to stand still and pose for the picture. Explain to them just how important these photos are to you. Always sharing this in a way that gets them excited!
Tip #2 Something to Look Forward to
Also tell them in advance, what they can look forward to if they do a good job during the session. This is always fun! Find something that gets them excited, maybe you go out for dinner or ice cream afterwards, maybe you have a movie night at home, or a game night, maybe they get to go play at the park when they are finished. Get creative! This little trick will encourage them do well during the session, making it a win, win situation!
Tip #3 Pack a Toy
Depending on how little your child is, packing a toy could be very helpful. Both for getting them to look at the camera and giving them something to play with in their photo. Whether it is a little ball or their favorite stuffed animal, as long as it keeps them smiling, it will work
Tip #4 Little Treats and Tiny Rewards
There is no shame in bribing your child here! For kids it is so helpful and encouraging to have a bunch of little wins throughout the session. Setting little, achievable goals like, stand here and smile for ten seconds and then giving a tiny reward, like a goldfish, a gummy bear, or a M&M, will let them know they are doing great! And will give them something to work towards at the end of the ten seconds.
By following these tips and being proactive you can easily go through the session with tools in your back pocket for making sure you get the most out of your family session and that everyone is excited for it! But also, know that things will not always go completely as planned, and have lots of grace. Family sessions will always feel a bit hectic, but just have fun and try to relax as best you can. You want to capture this time in their life for who they are…. Some of the goofier shots that show their silly, squirmy personalities could be one of your favorites.