5 Tips to a great photo shoot with kids
The thought of a photo session can send the best of moms running for the hills. What if little Tommy refuses to smile? What if Janie cries uncontrollably? There are so many scenarios running through you head.
All you want is beautiful images of your family. You can almost see grandmas face as she proudly hangs her photographs on her wall and brags to all her friends about how adorable her wonderful daughters family is. You envision the envious reaction of your old classmates as they see your images pop up on their newsfeed...but then reality sets in and you wonder how this experience can be anything more then a three ring circus.
Well have no fear. I am here to help you lay the foundation for an amazing, stress free (okay well 98% stress free) session. The ground work for success starts weeks/days before the session takes place. So lets get started!
1. Plan the session around your child.
Sure there are times of day we photographers prefer to shoot because of light. The best times for lighting are two hours before sunset and after sunrise. But that being said PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not schedule your session around your children's nap or bed time. Try to keep your routine as close to possible as normal. We might not be able to shoot at your first choice of location, but I will find us somewhere else fantastic. Location choice is a small sacrifice for a smiling, happy child.
Guess what else makes for a happy, cooperative child? A full belly! If you have lunch or dinner scheduled after your session, make sure to give them a healthy snack before hand to tide them over. This is a good tip for dads too!
2. Let them know what your doing!
A few days before the session explain to the kids what you will be doing. Make it fun and exciting. Tell them they will have fun, but you expect them to behave. Keep it simple and light. Don't overwhelm them, or be too demanding. They will go into the session with their defense up and that's not what we want! Also, don't have them practice their smiles. Kids are not good fake smilers. No matter how much coaching you give them, it will still look fake. This is one of those little worries you just have to let go. I will do just about anything to pull real genuine smiles and expressions out. You might even witness my famous hot dog dance.
3. Make sure they are comfortable.
Start preparing your clothing choices well in advance of your session. Make sure they are appropriate for whatever season/location you are shooting in. If they are too hot of cold, be sure meltdowns can and will occur. Make sure everything fits appropriately. Kids don't hide discomfort as well as adults do. Kids show their emotions on their face. If their shoes are too tight or their sweater is itchy, grumpy faces will ensue.
If they are wearing new outfits, do a trial run a few days before the session so you can flag any would be issues before the actual day.
4. Let go of expectations at the shoot.
We have planned and laid the foundation for a successful photo shoot, but sometimes things don't go as planned. Just go with it! So Tommy wont sit still for more then a minute at a time. That's okay let him play and explore I will just follow him around. The more pressure we put on the kids to sit still and smile, the more uptight they (and everyone else) get. So just go with the flow and trust that I am capturing beautiful images along the way. Candid shots usually tell the story better anyway.
I like parents to be involved but leave the direction to me. I have silly tricks to capture your child's true personality. Even if it looks like your child is acting out of control making faces at me, know that I am capturing the smiles he gives in between those silly faces. I promise he wont have his tongue hanging out in all your images. I will let you know anytime I need you to step in!
5. Have fun with your family
This one goes hand in hand with tip #4. Have fun, laugh, giggle, joke, embrace, play! I want to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family. The more you relax and have fun, the more your love for each other can shine through. Nothing ruins a photo faster then the tight smile of a frustrated parent. The success of a photo shoot is not determined solely by the attitudes of parents, but it does make a huge impact!
Hope you find these tips helpful when preparing for a session! Please share with your friends and family or anyone else you think might benefit from this!