1. Don’t rehearse
It might sound counterintuitive, but trying to prepare your kids to pose and smile for the camera is a bad idea. Resist the urge. Instead you can just say “we’re going to have a playdate with my friend and she’ll be taking some pictures as well.” The kids will be much more excited! And most importantly they will be themselves, acting and smiling their best and most natural way.
2. Have a conversation with the photographer
A simple phone call with your photographer before your portrait session goes a long way. And you need to talk about more than just the logistics of the shoot or the artist’s style. A photographer who knows nothing about your family will make portraits that look and feel generic. Tell your photographer what your kids are like and what you love about them and what is important for you to capture. Then your portraits will be authentic and meaningful to your family.
3. Give yourselves time
Being in a great mood matters. Especially on the day of your photo shoot. And do you know the number one reason why people sometimes show up not feeling their best? Running late. It’s completely understandable: parents get busy, kids walk slowly, traffic is often worse than expected. The best way to make sure you don’t arrive for your portrait session feeling hurried, frazzled and stressed is to simply give yourselves more time. Prepare everyone’s outfits and what to bring the night before. Some kids can be very particular about their outfits. Sound familiar? Have that conversation at least the night before, or even better a few days before your portrait day. Do your little ones take forever to put their socks on? Start getting dressed early. Remember – it’s not worth it to stress and be stressed!
4. Well-fed kids = happy kids
Having a hearty meal before your portrait session is incredibly important. Remember the cranky moments? How many of them were because your little angel was hungry? You can bring some snacks with you, of course. But having a good meal at home means there will be less hunger distractions during your shoot.
5. Let it be … and BE YOU
Okay, so you arrive at the photo shoot, the kids are excited, and everyone looks beautiful. Now what? What do you do? Smile, not smile? Sit, pose? It can be intimidating and a bit scary when a big lens is pointed at you. Take a deep breath. And … BE YOU. Let the kids be themselves. Yes, whatever they want to do! Let it be! You don’t need to do anything except enjoy yourself and this time when you’re all together. It’s your photographer’s job to create an environment and ambience where you all feel comfortable and free to be yourself. Your photographer will direct you and the kids as needed. And don’t worry if kids goof around! Your photographer will be capturing moments that you don’t even notice, because you’re in them, having fun. Capturing those genuine “in-between” moments is what makes authentic portraits. These portraits will show your kids’ personalities and the bonds between you all. These are the kinds of portraits that parents love the most.
Astra, a mom of two girls of 6 and 3, called us because she finally decided she was ready for family photos. Her “girls are in such a sweet age,” she said, “I want beautiful photos of them.”
She was very excited and inspired when we talked on the phone, describing to me the girls’ personalities and the moments she wanted me to capture. Her husband Toby was much less into the whole idea. Yes, he “wants some cute pictures of the family” but he is “uncomfortable in front of the camera,” and he doesn’t think he “can do all the posing and perfect smiling”.
He was happy to find out that we would be capturing spontaneous, real moments where people don’t need to pose. Often our families even forget that they’re being photographed.
They both loved their photographs.
The challenge (as usual) was to pick the absolute best for their wall art and album.