As parents all know, the mood of your kids can make or break your day, and photo shoots are no different! That’s why I’m sharing my tips on how to prepare your kids so that you get the best possible experience out of your family session, and of course, the greatest photos to remember it by!
Leading up to your session
Prime their expectations: Let them know that your session is coming up, and if they are old enough to understand, let them know when. Share your excitement for the shoot and they’ll pick up on it and get excited too! Tell them you’ll be hanging out with your friend Linda, who will be taking some pictures of your family while you explore, play and snuggle. Feel free to show them a picture of me from my website so that they feel a little more familiar with me ahead of time. Let them know there will be a little bit of quiet time where they will need to stand/sit still but also lots moving around and fun, especially if they listen well! You may want to show them some other family photos from my blog or portfolio so that they know some of what to expect.
Involve them in decisions: If you’re deciding between locations for your session, why not get the kids’ opinions? It will add to their excitement about the session if they feel like a part of the planning process! Similarly, you may want to give them a couple outfit options to choose between. Just make sure you’re 100% on board with them picking either option ahead of time!
On the day of the session
Make sure they’re rested: If you have a sunrise session, aim to get them to bed nice and early the night before to ensure they get a good night’s sleep. You may want to progressively shift bedtime earlier over the course of the week leading up to the shoot to make this easier. If you have an at-home session, it will likely be mid-day. When we’re planning the session, we’ll try to work around nap times. If you have an evening golden hour session, aim for a later naptime that day so that you can stretch bedtime a little later that night. I always find a late afternoon car ride will knock my kids right out even when they're a little old for naps! Often, the excitement is enough to keep your kids going at the session, even if they are tired, but it’s nice to have happy, alert kids to begin with.
Give yourselves lots of time to get ready: Nothing stresses parents out quite like rushing their kids out the door to get somewhere, and nothing stresses kids out quite like stressed out parents, so do yourselves a favour and plan lots of time to get yourselves ready and to the shoot.
If you can, make it part of an exciting outing: If your session is at sunrise, plan to go out for breakfast after. If your session is in the evening, and your kids are old enough to stay up for a little afterwards, head out for dinner or ice cream together afterwards. Just don’t do it before the session unless you have lots of time to change your clothes and wash little faces, etc. in between!
Use rewards: I’m not above a good bribe! Offer your little ones a fun reward – some stickers, candy, a little toy, etc. – for after the session, if they can show me what awesome listeners they are. Leave the treats and snacks in the car, though, so they’re not constantly asking for them during photos.
Lead by example and go with the flow: Show your enthusiasm, positivity, and cooperative attitude throughout the shoot and your kids will follow suit! Avoid showing any stress or frustration with their behavior, as this can quickly dampen the mood. Let me direct them and you can just worry about showering your family with love, affection, hugs, kisses and tickles while I click away!
Have fun with the process and your kids will too!