Family sessions are something most moms get excited over, yet dread simultaneously. It's probably been far too long since you last had photos of your family taken so you know you're long overdue to book a session, but the thought of getting yourself, possibly your spouse and your kids ready and prepared is a daunting task. Sometimes so daunting that you put if off over and over again. Being in the photography industry for seven years, I've worked with many families and I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be a huge undertaking. If you go into your session with a positive attitude and the following tips then you'll be ready to knock it out of the park the day of your shoot.
1. Tell the kids all about it. Let the kids know well in advance that you've booked a session. Get them excited about it and if they're old enough have them help you pick out their wardrobe and accessories. Involving them in the process will make them feel special and like they had a hand in making this happen. Tell them about the photographer that will be working with them. Give them his/her name and even show them a photo so they won't feel like a total stranger the day of the session. The more they understand about this entire situation, the better they will feel going into it.
2. Go with the flow. I tell all of the parents that book with me that most children between the ages of 1-5 years old have a limited time span to be in front of the camera. It's not in their nature to sit still and smile pretty for an hour so if you can book a shorter session with your photographer or catch them when they're doing a mini session special that will be the most ideal situation. But if that's not an option then be okay with giving them breaks when they need it. Don't become frustrated or angry when they don't cooperate. Instead give them a few minutes to play or do their own thing. During this time the photographer can either take a few photos of you alone or with your spouse (because when was the last time just the two of you had photos taken? I'm guessing it was on your wedding day!) or they can use that time for candid moments while the kids are just being themselves. Either way go with the flow and it'll make the experience better for everyone.
3. Don't be above bribing. I know most parents expect their children to be well behaved at all times, but it's not realistic. And the chance for a mid-shoot meltdown is quite possible so before the session even takes place let the kids know that if they behave well that you'll take them out for ice cream afterwards or that you'll all watch their favorite family movie once you're back home. A little incentive never hurt anyone. And if the session starts to take a turn you can use this incentive to help get them back on track.
4. Pack the essentials. Make sure to bring along one or two toys that will make your child feel better should they become upset during the session (and make sure you're okay with this toy possibly making an appearance in some of your images), pack drinks and/or snacks in case they get hungry or thirsty (nothing with a lot of food coloring that could stain their clothing or mouths), wipes, lotion, lip balm and possibly even a change of clothes in case of an accident. The more you're prepared in advance the better you'll feel the day of your shoot.
5. Preparation is key. Most moms become flustered the day of the shoot because everything is done last minute. The more you can do in advance of the shoot day, the easier the day will flow. This includes, but is not limited to, getting any haircuts/salon visits done a few days in advance, for an early morning session this could include bathing the kids the night before, laying out everyone's wardrobe 1-2 days before the shoot, and packing up all of your essential items (snacks, toys, etc) the day before. The more you can get done before your session date arrives the more relaxed you'll feel.
These are just a few ways you can prepare not only your children but yourself the next time you decide to book a session and make the entire process easier for everyone involved.
BONUS TIP: Make sure to schedule your session around nap time whenever possible. No one wants a cranky or groggy child during their session so whenever you can schedule it before their nap takes place or well after so they're rested and ready to go!
Thanks, Denise for sharing great tips and stay tuned because my family session photos are coming soon!