7 Tips for Surviving Family Photos with Kids

Family photo sessions are often something that clients look forward to: you’re getting to capture your family in a beautiful way at this point in life. The reality is, though, that family photos can be a struggle! If you have young kids, they may be wiggly, inattentive, fussy, or excited, making that perfect photo tough to get.

I’m sure you’ve seen beautiful family photos or holiday cards with all of the kids smiling, with the parents looking relaxed and it makes you wonder just how they got their kids to behave so well. You might feel like your magical moments have kids making faces, looking upset, and that you end up coming across as frazzled and stressed. It’s heart breaking to me when I see families put so much energy into their photos and not be happy with how they turn out.

There can be stress on this one session because of how important the photos are to you, especially if you’re taking holiday photos and plan to share them with your loved ones. But don’t worry- there is so much you can do to help your little ones be prepared for family photos.

Top 7 Tips for Surviving Family Photos

1. Make sure your kids (and you!) have a snack just before the session. Most kids aren’t going to smile if they’re hungry. Have extra snacks on hand just in case.

      2. Have someone that your little ones are comfortable with come along to the session. This helps with them looking at the camera, especially with the family photo, and allows you and your partner to take a photo or two while someone is keeping an eye on the kids.

3. Have motivators such as fruit snacks or other yummy treats on hand. Try to bring items that your kids love but do not get often. You can use these to incentivize good behavior during the session. The best choices are ones that can be given in tiny bite size quantities and without melting, such as gummy bears.
     4. Have a spare change of clothes handy because things happen! You spend lots of time picking out the perfect outfits, but have another choice on hand for everyone just in case!

5. Help your kiddos know what to expect for the session and what happens when it’s over- incentivize here as well. Explain, “We are going to have so much fun today (sing songs, play, etc.) while we get some pictures taken. And after we will … (insert something they love like going to the playground or getting ice-cream).” While at the session remind the little one of the fun activity or treat they will receive for listening to the photographer.

     6. Try and book your session around their nap schedule. In the Fall with the sun setting around 5 PM it often is the best time for photos, and hopefully won’t conflict with naps. September is a great time for family photos because the weather is beautiful, there are more daylight hours, and the season still allows for great holiday card options.

      7. Give kids breaks for candid photos. A full hour session can be a lot for little ones. It’s important for your photographer to listen to little ones and if they are starting to show signs of being grumpy, this is a wonderful opportunity for little ones to explore. Play, and have a break. Some of the most beautiful photos can be captured during this time when kids are left to play. And, play with them- you may end up with a beautiful family photo that is different than what you envisioned.

As a photographer, I know that family photos can be something parents dread, but they don’t have to be. Use these 7 Survival Tips to prepare for your next family session.


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