1. Get your family excited before the photo shoot
In the lead up to your session, try to build up the excitement with your family. You might plan aspects of the session with them, or talk to them about the fun activity that you’ll do. You might get them excited about where you’ll be going—whether it’s your stoop, the park down the block from you, or somewhere you’ve never been before.
Your kids should know beforehand that there will be a photographer taking pictures, but how you tell them that depends on your family. Some families have lots of fun with the idea of someone taking their pictures and are able to use being photographed as an excuse to get extra creative, as if they were putting on a play for an audience. Other families might want to focus more on what they’ll be doing with each other in order build a natural and relaxed energy where they forget the photographer is there. So adjust the narrative depending on the type of family you are.
Another idea that some families we know have enjoyed is to spend time before the shoot looking at your own family pictures and telling stories of when you were young. You can use this as a way to show how important and fun it can be to have pictures that are the basis for how we remember and talk about who we are.
2. Choose outfits that express who you are
When thinking about what to wear, the key point is to do you. Look at your outfits as an opportunity to wear something fun, silly, hip, fancy—whatever gets you excited while keeping you comfortable. The more each member of your family is able to express themselves in the way they want to, the better your pictures are likely to be. And on that topic, avoid forcing your kids, your spouse, or yourself to wear something you/they don’t want. It’ll show in the pictures. Finally, check out Stylish & Hip Kids Pinterest boards if you want some inspiration.
3. Make sure everybody is well rested and well fed
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying. We want everybody happy and two key elements of that is sleep and food. And on the topic of food, you should bring snacks. We can stop along the way, take a rest, and eat a snack to charge up energy. Just make sure that whatever you bring isn’t going to be messy. You also might want to avoid things like lollipops that turn kids’ tongues blue—unless you’re into that.
4. Bring items that will get your kids excited
You might want to choose an item or two to bring that your kids will be excited to have or show off during the session. This might be a favorite stuffed animal, balloons, or bubbles, or you could bring a scooter or skateboard. We can incorporate these into the pictures and use them to help everybody have fun. Just make sure that you’re not weighing yourselves down with things you won’t want to carry on whatever route we’ve planned for the shoot and avoid things that siblings might fight over.
5. Be yourselves and have fun
This is the most important point and key to a good photo session—your goal should be to have fun. All the previous tips build up to this one. Don’t stress about poses, what to do with your hands, or whether kids have that perfect Hallmark smile. And remember, one of the most important part of our job as your photographer is to help you feel at ease and generate a fun vibe.
One other thing we’d add: while every family is different, we’ve noticed that often when parents try to bribe their kids during the session it doesn’t work. Not saying we haven’t done it with our own kids, but if you’re waving a cookie at your kid trying to get them to smile, you’re probably not in the space you want. If you want, you can build in a reward in the form of a fun/special activity that you’ll do after the session—like going to your favorite ice cream joint—so it’s a package deal, a fun day that includes several stages.
And one final note: Sometimes awesome kids just aren’t into it (or let’s be real, sometimes awesome spouses too). It happens to us all. If we all show up and it clearly just doesn’t jive, we can reschedule.