Let’s face it, we all feel this way sometimes. You take them somewhere, they are running around, knocking things over, getting lost in the store or going through the fridge of someone they just met. Not that I say any of this out of experience 😉
I get it! As a mom of three kids 6 and under I get the fear that your child’s or family portrait session will be a disaster. I once spent 20 minutes just trying to get a single image of my son looking into the camera, “Julian look right here, here, Julian here, HERE!” And the grumpy, defiant little one with her arms crossed above ^^ yup that’s my two year old. Her two year old attitude is in full swing.
Those of you who have attempted a studio session with a wiggly child are most likely scarred for life. I worked in a studio for almost 3 years with some kids it was just a lost cause to keep them on the background and in front of the camera.
This is part of the reason I love outdoor photography! I can allow kids to be kids, and capture them as they are. Whether they love posing like a princess or playing in the mud. Some of my favorite images of my own children are those where they are not looking at the camera. In some cases these are posed in some cases they are candid, but to me these capture who they are. And although I do not consider myself a lifestyle photographer, I love to pose, primp and perfect an image, I do love images that capture life. What this usually means with the younger kids is I pose them where I want them and they just see what they want to do.
So I am going to make it easy on you for your next family or children’s portraits session with some ways to prep for your session and ways to make it easier during the session itself.
#1 Planning the session
Before your family or kids pictures we will plan out the look of your session. You can either text or email me a few images of your child’s or families outfit (s) or in some cases I may provide the clothing for kids portrait sessions. (The 2t dress above is available for sessions!) In addition we will plan any themes you want and discuss any specific poses or needs that you have from the session.
#2 Prepping your child
DON’T! Don’t tell them they need to smile or bribe them to be good. These things send the signal that they are going to do something that is not fun, and I want them to have fun. I strive for natural smiles and expressions and will get these only if your child is relaxed and having fun. In addition I want parents to arrive as relaxed and stress free as possible and as soon as your child thinks they are going to do something that is not fun they will resist and everyone’s stress level will rise. Instead tell them that you are going to go to the park and have some pictures taken. Tell them that they need to listen to my directions but to relax and have fun.
You will also want to make sure that your child/family is well feed before the session. I do not recommend snacks during the session, once they see the snacks the session is almost always over. The rest of your portraits will be of your child chewing.
#3 Before your session
It is also a good idea to have clothes and anything else you need for the session laid out the day before. Make sure everyone has tried on their clothing to make sure it fits and don’t forget the socks and shoes. My family once showed up for a family pictures only to realize that my son was wearing Halloween socks. Epic fail!!! If you have all of this laid out the day before no matter how busy your day is on the day of the session it will be ready to go when you need it.
#4 Arriving at your session
Plan to arrive around 15 minutes early. This will give you a buffer if you get lost or if you want to double check your makeup and hair when you arrive. Also feel free to dress your young children when you get there if they are little. Sometimes that takes away the stress of will they get dirty on the way there.
#5 During the session
For a family session I typically start out with a few posed family portraits. I will play with your kids, tease them about their smile threaten to tickle them, or actually tickle them if needed. I do this with EVERY CHILD. Please don’t assume that this means they are not behaving. I will take 3-6 images of each pose to make sure I got a great shot. Sometimes more if it is a large group or with younger more wiggly children. It is important that parents stay calm and stay in the pose. I will repose your child as needed (Its typically needed, even with older kids) and tell them if I need them in a slightly different spot. I know it is hard to keep your eye on the camera instead of on your kid but I will let you know if I need you to step in as parents, in the mean time try to turn off the parenting for a moment and have fun with your kids.
After the posed portraits I will continue with fun portraits of you playing with the kids and individuals of the kids both posed and candid. Typically mixing up the poses will help keep your child’s attention.
For kids sessions or during the kids portraits at your family session feel free to bring yourself a coffee, soda, sports drink, glass of wine whatever. Sit back and relax while I do the work. If I need your help to get smiles or get them to a certain spot I will let you know. Otherwise don’t stress if they spend a minute examining the grass or running away from me. It happens almost every session with younger kids. I promise I will still get some great portraits.
The most important thing to remember if that your kids can sense your stress and will react to it so following these steps can help parents feel less stressed for the session and help me capture better more natural portraits.
I hope these tips have helped you prepare for your next session. Comment below to tell me what you think!
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