Avoid meltdowns, overcome shyness, and other top tips for getting the most out of your family photo shoot
Most parents, myself included, have a little anxiety when it comes time for family photos. It’s hard enough on a daily basis getting kids out the door, so the idea of getting everyone (yourself included) “camera-ready”…Oy vey, talk about an express ticket to stress city. I know your struggle! To help ease the process, I’ve come up with my top tips to get the most out of your family photo shoot (tested as both a mom AND photographer).
When it comes time for your family session, stay positive.
Ack, don’t hate me. I know this one can be tough but think happy thoughts. So much of stress is the build-up. My sister is a master of this concept. She made flying solo with a two-month-old look like a trip to the grocery store. Time and again, I’ve seen her take on activities and adventures that would send me spirling with worry. So what’s her secret? Some might call it naivete, but I call it good ol’ classic optimism. She just stays positive. Sure, even she loses her sh*t every now and then, but generally speaking, a good attitude is everything!
- Get ahead of HANGER. We all know the feeling. You’re stuck in a situation that you can’t just walk away from, but you’re starving. Ugh, it’s the worst. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you’re hungry, you’re probably going to turn into a raging toddler. Make sure to have yourself and your kiddos well fed before your pictures. Oh, and don’t forget backup snacks. Think quick fixes like cereal, fruit snacks, grapes, pirates booty, or squeeze pooches. These are great choices because they can quickly elevate a drop in blood sugar AND they’re not too messy.
- Don’t forget the wipes. Sometimes a spill is inevitable. No stress! Photoshop can do wonders. If there is a wipeout in the dirt or food on shirt, it’s ok. Promise! Wipes are always great for on-the-go touch-ups (and running noses).
- Embrace the chaos. This one is key to get the most out of your family pictures. As much as you can, try to go with the flow. It’s like the Robert Burns poem says, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” We do what we can on the front-end to avoid meltdowns–planning around nap time, making sure everyone is well-fed, but sometimes things can be a little wild. It’s ok. Promise. I’m used to it. My son can be high energy with big emotions. Some days he’s super positive, then when the moon is full (or not, who knows really?) and all of a sudden he’s a mini-werewolf. It happens.
- Ride the wave. That might mean changing course, nixing the “picnic on a blanket” pictures for a game of tag or taking a pause to reset. Try to stay open to “calling an audible” as they say in football and going with the flow if necessary. On my end, I’ll always be mindful of doing what I can to get some “winner” shots within the first five minutes, so that if we do have to go a different direction, you’ll still have frame-worthy pictures.
- When it comes to family photos, let them be kids. I know the urge to feel so frustrated you want to throw in the towel. Just know that during this photoshoot, it’s ok to give your kid or kid(s) a little extra leash. If she jumps in a puddle of water and gets her pants wet, it’ll be ok. In fact, the photos will probably be adorable. In the end, real life isn’t a perfect pose. It’s movement, play, and expression.
- Connect with your inner-child. You know those YouTubers your kiddo can’t get enough of? My theory is the appeal comes because those stars are stepping into the shoes of the children. The same magic happens during photoshoots. When you get down on their level, engaging in play and activities that the kids love and relate to, it shows in the laughter and smiles that result.
- What about getting the most out of your family photoshoot in the face of shyness or defiance? Everyone has different levels of comfort with new people. The same can be said about having your picture taken. So what do you do when your kiddo is shy or objects altogether to the idea? I could write an entire post on this topic. But for now, I’ll list the most important ways to help your child feel comfortable.
- Talk with your photographer beforehand to come up with a game-plan. If your concerned your child will be too shy or hard to wrangle, a chat with your photographer about strategy can be super helpful.
- Bring something from home. This might mean a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or play item along. You can always start with it in some of the pictures, then once they’re feeling more at ease, sneak it away.
- Start off slow. If a child is shy, I like to get down on eye level, Introduce myself and do something to “break the ice.” This might mean letting them take a picture of me or their parents with my camera (with help, of course) or simply walk for a few minutes before we start taking pictures.
- Consider the setting. For shy children, I recommend places that aren’t too busy or overwhelming, like your home or a nearby park. Ask your photographer if they know of any spots that are more private if you’re looking to get out of your neighborhood. For the more active child, this can also be helpful. A place where they can run, jump, play while still being “safe and contained” can be huge. Nature preserves are one of my favorite settings for active kids. They have lots of room to explore along a path that feels safe, unlike a crowded park.
- Incentivize. Give your son or daughter something to look forward to as a reward. Ice cream or a special treat for a special occasion like this can be super helpful.
- Music. I often use music during my photoshoots. Dancing pictures are super cute and hearing a favorite song can be really helpful.
In the end, remember, real life isn’t a perfect pose. It’s movement, play, and expression. Sometimes the most dynamic pictures are the ones that happen when we just let it all go.
Want to see from the blog? Check out these featured family sessions below:
- Lurie Garden Family Photos
- Northerly Island Family Pictures
- Foster Ave Beach Family Photos with the Tanners
Interested in taking your own family photos? Contact me today here, call 402-304-4057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!