Family photo sessions can be stressful. You spent time picking out your children’s outfits, and want everything to go perfectly during the session so that you can have amazing photos to share with family and friends. But if your child throws a tantrum or misbehaves during a session, you start to see your perfect family photo slipping away. The truth is that family sessions never go exactly how you thought they would, because children can be unpredictable. It’s important for you to realize that family photo sessions don’t have to be a stressful experience; they should be fun. Below are 5 simple steps to a successful family photo session.
1. Reward your child.
Tell your children prior to the session that they will receive a special reward if they behave and cooperate. The reward could be a trip to the movie theater, or a treat. You know your child best, so think of a reward that they will be excited about. Make sure to remind your child about this reward right before the session starts. For example, you could say, “If you listen to Chelsey, we’ll get you ice cream.”
Do NOT use the reward as a way to discipline your child during the session. I have seen parents get frustrated, and then say something like, “Because you’re not listening, we’re not going to go for ice cream anymore.”
Parents say this because they are frustrated, and I completely understand. But threatening to take away your child’s reward has the exact opposite effect. Kids often burst out into tears after they hear that they won’t be receiving their “special treat.”
Instead, use the reward as a way to encourage your child throughout the session. If you see him/her doing exactly what they should be doing, point it out. “Wow, you are doing such a great job! I can’t wait to take you to see your favorite movie tonight.”
Trust me. I have photographed hundreds of children over the years, and positive reinforcement works during a photo session.
2. Let’s make the session fun!
Family photos can feel like a chore for you and your kids, but it doesn’t have to be this way. I try to make sessions fun for both children and parents. I do this by encouraging you and your family to be yourselves in front of my camera.
Feel free to tickle your kids. Whisper something funny to them. Play with them. This will help your children be relaxed and natural in front of my camera.
3. Don’t get stressed!
I know that you have invested a lot of time and money into your photo session. This can add to a feeling of stress during the photo session, and you may be tempted to start directing your child.
It’s nothing personal, but in my experience, children take directions better from me (the photographer) than their parents during a photo session. Besides, it can get confusing for your child if Dad is telling him to sit up straight, Mom is telling him to fold his hands, and then I am telling him something else. Rest assured that I will take control of the photo session so that you can feel more relaxed and be able to enjoy this special time with your family.
4. Take a break.
If you start feeling stressed and just need a break, please feel free to do so. The best time to do this would be when I am taking individual photos of your kids. I’ve found that having parents step away for a few minutes helps some children refocus and cooperate better for photos.
If your child is throwing a tantrum, hungry, etc., they can absolutely take a break during the session. I am flexible and understand that your child may need to take a short break at some point during the session.
5. Did you get any good photos?
The most common question parents ask me immediately following their family photo session is, “Did you get any good photos?”
I know exactly why parents ask this question. At some point during the session, your child may have been crying, making funny faces, etc.
It’s important for parents to realize that it only takes a second for me to get that perfect photo of your child. It doesn’t matter if moments earlier, your little one was throwing a tantrum. As a photographer, I’m trained to focus on capturing those fleeting moments that you might not even see until you are looking at a slideshow containing all of the beautiful, storytelling images from your family photo session.
Are you looking for a photographer to capture your growing family? Contact me today; I’d love to hear from you!
If you enjoyed reading my 5 simple steps to a successful family photo session, please leave a comment below 🙂