How to Have The Perfect Family Session | Spoiler Alert: it's not going to happen, and that's totally okay.
Here’s the thing. Planning for your family session can be stressful. It takes time to plan outfits, finding an available day in your busy schedule, and then anticipating how your children will behave. Let me just say, I have many years of experience with children (16 years), and I believe patience is key. I do not expect your children to be perfect angels. Expecting your toddler to sit still and smile… umm, unlikely. This is why I want you to come ready to PLAY with your children. It will make all of the difference, and we will be able to capture the most genuine and heart melting smiles. Trust me! I work with many families a year, and we always manage to get sweet photos.
I DO want to encourage you all, and give you some tips before your next family session. I will also include a few prompts. Most often, the parents are tickling and laughing with their kids, and that is what brought out the smiles!
How to Prepare Your Children
Communication is so important to children. If they know what to expect it will help prevent anxiety and uncertainty. You can let them know a friend named Brianne will be there, and she will have her camera. Everyone will get to run around and play. “We will smile so big for the camera! After we are all done, and everyone does their best to behave, we will have a special treat!”. I think bribery is absolutely acceptable in this situation! I suggest using the promise of a treat AFTER the session is over. If necessary, especially for young children, you can bring along mini marshmallows. My sister-in-law told me this trick and I think it is genius! Most all children love marshmallows AND they won’t stain teeth/clothing.
How to Prepare YOURSELF (and your partner)
Just keeping it real, it is often the parents that need all of the preparation and an attitude adjustment. I completely understand that not everyone likes having their photo taken. I know I feel super awkward in front of the camera! It takes getting used to, and I try my best to make you feel comfortable and at ease. Most people leave saying it was painless! ;)
If you go into it knowing that these memories will last a lifetime, and your kids will be grown and out of the house before you even know it, I bet you will feel a lot more thankful to be there. Also, remember that your children will cherish these photos. They may not right now, but in years to come, they will.
If you need some incentive for yourself, maybe plan to grab takeout or pick up a movie for after the shoot. Or, setup a babysitter since you will already be dressed up! You can drop the kiddos off after the shoot and head out for a date!
Those are just a few examples! Believe me, there is often some unhappy/crying/running away children. We are patient and do our best to distract and redirect. If YOU as the parent come in a good mood, everyone else will follow suit.
Prepare your kids BEFORE you arrive so they know what to expect
Bribery. Bribery. Bribery. Have a special treat ready in the car, or go get ice cream!
Bring mini marshmallows as a backup, but don’t tell the kids you have them! They are a last resort after we’ve tried everything.
When needed for babies/toddlers, we will sometimes bring out a phone and play their favorite song!
Prepare yourself and your partner. Try to remember WHY you’re doing this.
Plan a special treat for the parents, or a date-night.
Come prepared to sing, dance, and be silly! Your kids will loooove it.