5 Tips for Parents to Have a Smooth Family Session

Lifestyle Family photography easy tips for working with kids. KC Lostetter Photography

Ok parents, this one is for you. I know, I know, sometimes those kiddos have a mind of their own. Imagine that. You have this grand photo session planned to capture your family. You are hoping for beautiful images of a family full of joy and love and happiness and rainbows and butterflies. The day has come. Your outfits are perfect. You got your hair done and your makeup is flawless. You put that adorable little sweater on your toddler and  *record screech* they lose their mind. The sweater is itchy, she wanted to wear her favorite princess dress, and the crackers she asked for aren’t the right ones. OR everything is going great and you get to the session and the 5 year old wants nothing to do with it. OR your 10 year old wants nothing to do with it. OR your 8 year old keeps making that silly face that suddenly came out of nowhere. 

I want to start by saying. One) YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It happens. It happens a lot. Not all the time but it does happen. Kids are kids, man, and it wasn’t their idea to come hang out in front of a camera. Two) We can still make magic together.

Tips for when kids go crazy during a photo shoot. Or how to prevent a melt down. KC Lostetter Lifestyle Film Photography

Here are a few tips to help you in these not so ideal moments.

  1. DO NOT tell them BEFORE if they are good they can have (fill in the blank) treat after the session.

I see this a lot and almost every time it will blow up in your face. I know it is well intentioned but holding that ice cream out like a carrot and dangling it over their heads just to threaten to take it away WILL NOT WORK! I am all about bribery in the moment. If we have to break out the little candies or a snack during the session that is great BUT PLEASE don’t tell them they get something later before we even start. You are probably like…. KC why is that so bad? It sound like a great idea. Here is why. You know what will be on their mind from the second they get out of the car? That’s right, you guessed it. “When do I get my Ice cream?!” or “Are we done yet?”

Here is what you can do instead. Tell them about the session. Tell them about me. Tell them we are going to play and have fun for a little bit. Its going to be so awesome! KC is going to play with us! We will get to play with mom and dad! We will laugh! Its going to be so fun are you excited? Hype up our time together. Don’t tell them they have to smile for the camera or they better be good etc. Just tell them how fun it will be. Cause it will be fun and then they will be excited to hang out with me.

  1. Grin and bear it.

Thats right, I said it. Some times you might just have to make the happiest face on the planet while your child screams into your ear. While you are smiling and happy or snuggled in loving that kiddo losing their mind, I’ll capture the sweetest image and the viewer won’t even know that kid is going crazy. If a break is needed, I will absolutely give you one. And if space is needed it is allllll yours. Some of the sweetest moments are a parent consoling their child and then I’ll step away and let you have your moment without my shutter firing in your ear.

  1. Let the photographer do their thing

We are full of tricks. Sometimes they work and sometimes they back fire. There are times when I will ask for your help to get the kiddo’s attention, or I might ask you to play with them, or toss them or whatever. There are other times when I will need you to let me get that child’s attention while you keep looking at me….. Don’t look down at that child who is not smiling…. You just keep lookin at me. Cause you know what ruins a photo real fast? A parent glaring at their unsmiling child. The tricks and the games, the posing, all of it adds up to freedom for YOU! You just have some fun and I’ll do the work. I’ll let you know when I need you to step in.

  1. Take a walk/break

This is a dual meaning one. Sometimes, I might need you to step away while I talk with the kiddo and try to capture them. I will always ask for permission first but giving me some time with your child gives me a chance to make a connection with them and sometimes capture a great portrait. Some times this just a chance for me to make sure they know that I am fun and they don’t have to be afraid of me or my camera. 

Other times we may just have to let the kid take a break. Little Jonny isn’t into it? Thats ok, he doesn’t have to be in this super fun photo with mom and her other kid. Or this super fun photo of dad and the other kid, or mom and dad…. Pretty much every time that kiddo will come back, cause, duh, they want to have fun too!

  1. You get to be a parent

Here is the thing. I am good with kids, but I am not every kids parent. Only YOU know what that kid wants or needs in that moment. If you know they need a break or a snack or a snuggle or to be done, you just let me know. I’m not here to push you or your kids past your comfort zone. We are here to have fun and if the fun is over thats fine too. 

Thats it. Pretty simple, hey? I have heard people say to just assume your kids will go crazy and then you can be pleasantly surprised when they are well behaved. You can prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Or you can go into the session with a good attitude, excited to have fun as a family and hopefully your kids will mimic your happy energy. However you approach your future session I hope that you will consider some of these and maybe have some piece of mind knowing that you are not alone.

Which of these tips surprised you? Or which was your favorite?

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