How to Prepare your Kids for your Photography Session
As moms, the very last thing we want is to hire a professional photographer and end up with no great images of our kids, whether due to temper tantrums or any other reason. Young kids are unpredictable. Even if your kid is the most social, easy going child in the world, there’s no guarantee they’ll be engaged and happy during your session. But as a mom of three and newborn and childhood photographer, I’ve come up with some great tips and tricks on how to prepare your kids for your photography session so that you’ll end up with gorgeous images, full of their little personalities.
We all know what happens to our kids if they skip a nap or end up going to bed too late. And it’s not pretty. Whether your kid gets super emotional, or extra hyper like mine, being tired rarely leads to amazing photos of your children. Most experienced photographers will tell you that golden hour is the time for outdoor family photos. And I stand by it. However, if it’s a choice between happy, playful, engaged children, or soft golden light – choose the happy kids. Every. Single. Time. Gorgeous light won’t result in images full of personality. Now, since we all want the absolute best, I wouldn’t recommend choosing a time in the middle of the afternoon in full sun. Time your family photography session for as close to sunset or sunrise as you possibly can without risking ornery kids.
If you’re planning your session for in-home, or working your newborn session around your toddler, consider your toddlers nap time. I recommend choosing either 2-3 hours prior to nap time so you don’t risk running into it, or an hour or so afterward. Choose whichever of these coincides with the most natural light in your home.
Our goal is personality and emotion. These aren’t your grandparents photographs. Your kids won’t be asked to sit still, stare at a camera and smile, so don’t expect them to. Don’t make them practice this at home or ask them if they’re ready to “smile for the camera”. When children see a camera and assume they need to stare into it and smile, the result is cheesy, unnatural grins at best, but most often scowls. Instead, just do your best to manage emotions and make the experience exciting! Which bring us to tip #3…
Kids are great at picking up on our emotions – and mirroring them. If you are stressing out or feeling nervous about your session, then they likely will too. Get excited! Treat yourself (and maybe your kids) to a new outfit for the occasion. Spend some time thinking about where you’ll hang or display your favourite images. And, here’s the key, talk to your kids about it! Get them excited! Talk about how they get to spend time playing with mommy and daddy. Tell them where you want a big picture of their adorable face hung in your home. Talk about what you’ll reward them with after your session!
Yep. I said it. Bribe your kids. It’s not generally parenting advice I would hand out, but in order to prepare your kids for your photography session, it’s always a good idea to bribe them. This doesn’t have to mean sugar. I recommend any reward you are comfortable with and can give your child after the session is done. That’s right. Don’t bring smarties and hand them out one-by-one during the session (I’m speaking from personal experience!) We don’t want your toddler covered in orange smartie melt in your images, and we’d rather not have images of him or her begging you for more. It doesn’t have to be food-based either. Reward them with screen-time, their favourite meal, some one-on-one time, a special date, a new toy. Really, whatever will work for your child and whatever you are comfortable with.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee your kid will behave during your photography session. However, in my personal experience, following these four tips sets them up for success. If you put all of these into practice, you’re more likely to have your kids fully engage with the process and end up with images full of their big personalities and the intimacy that is unique to your family. And that’s the ultimate goal.
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