• Sarah

5 Tips for a Smooth Family Photo Session with Kids | Victoria BC Family Photographer


Kids are awesome, right? I know. I'm practically a specialist. I have 3 kids (5, 3, 2) and number 4 is arriving in less time than I can fathom (under 2 months).. This experience makes me very comfortable with newborns in studio and kids during milestone and family sessions. Anyways.... back to how awesome kids are.

A few days ago, I had a newborn session in the studio with a 5 week old and his not quite 2 year old brother, Henry. While baby Hugo was having a terrific session, sweet Henry was having a very "off day." He basically screamed the entire time he was there, despite toys, snacks, snuggles, distractions, games, songs and all my efforts. It was awesome. Kids are awesome. And usually, some variety of this awesomeness comes out during photo sessions.

But, don't fear - and certainly, don't let apprehension about your family photo session force you into waiting until your dear children are adults for your portrait session.. There are some things you can do to foster a positive family session.

1. First of all, I find explaining your expectations and what they can expect at the photo shoot can be very helpful for older children. If they know beforehand that they will be asked to follow direction from me and will be rewarded afterwards, things generally start off well.

2. Bribery works. Now, I can tell you that I don't condone bribery in my own home with my own kids but desperate times call for desperate measures. When I try to get a decent picture of all three of my own little people, it usually costs me an entire bag of mini marshmallows. My recommendation is to bring along a little treat (fruit snacks etc) in case things are going down hill during the session, and to promise an outing or ice cream or something for after the session is complete.

3. Relax! Moms, especially for you, please please please relax during the session, I don't know about you, but my rascals tend to demonstrate their best rascally behaviour when they can sense my anxiety and stress. They are likes wolves feeding on the weak. Anyways, you're job is to look gorgeous and smile. My job is to connect with your children and get them to engage with me. There is nothing worse that when I start to cull my family session images only to find that Mom has her mouth open, scolding the children, looking at the children, or talking to the children in EVERY single portrait. So, smile pretty and look at me. I will get them to look at me too. I'm good at it; it's my job! That said, there are occasions when a little parental guidance is very necessary (to encourage containment, listening, and cooperation) so please step in as you see fit.

4. When you are not in the picture, and would like to call your child's attention to get them to look and smile, PLEASE do so directly behind me! Getting your child to look at you and smile the happiest smile you've ever seen off the the side of me will not provide the portrait you are hoping for, promise. Along this same line, it can be very overwhelming for young children to have mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, neighbours, and the mailman lined up behind me calling for attention and making faces to get your toddler to laugh. Less is more. My job is to connect with your child so the photograph shows genuine contact and that is very challenging when there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

5. Finally, my last tip for a smooth family photo session with kids is to play! I love to capture movement, honest emotion, genuine smiles, and true moments in my photographs. Of course we will aim for a few "look at the camera and everyone smile nicely" portraits for you, but additional to that, my goal is to capture your family as they exist in time. So play together, be silly together, tickle each other, snuggle each other and show me who you really are. These will be your favourite images, your favourite memories, your favourite moments. Just remember, while you play, keep you chin out!

- Sarah

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