You did it, you booked a family photo session...what's next? This is going to sound crazy but, drop your expectations regarding your child's participation before arriving. Especially verbally setting expectations [this applies to littles and not as much big kiddos]. I got this, follow my lead.
Whether you dread the family photos or get excited for them, this article will help you navigate the journey of preparation and what to look forward to. Lets start with the most obvious thing: Children [small children especially] are not going to cooperate for 30 minutes or an hour and smile the whole way through in most cases. I don't blame them, children are meant to constantly learn by exploring the world around them. Children don't yet understand the importance of capturing these photos for generations to come to hold close to their hearts. Children are beautiful gifts from God that are complex and sometimes hard to understand but I will tell you one thing; children just need love, grace and compassion. With that being said, I gear my approach more towards giving children options, following their lead when their patience or focus runs out, by just starting the first few minutes of the session right off the bat with perfect poses with smiles so the rest can be the natural candid/movement photos.
While we are on the topic of children and preparing for photos, I wanted to point out the fact of time frames that sessions typically happen in. Evenings are prime light for those gorgeous photos you want that align with my portfolio. This means, your daily routine/schedule with your child or children can be disrupted. After all, you made a huge investment in this moment so we want you to get the absolute most out of it, right? One of the most important things you can do is to make sure your child is not hungry, not sleepy and not sick. I understand this is not always possible but I am a firm believer in snacks during photo sessions if you as a parent don't mind the occasional "smile for a fruit gummy" approach. I like to engage with the children as much as their body language allows [or as little] to make sure they know I am on their team and ready to have fun with them.
Next topic I want to address is cooperation of parents. Parenting is no walk in the park and at times can be overstimulating, stressful and downright exhausting. The downside to this is the energy you portray is the energy your child picks up. We all have different parenting styles and some of us are more on the "talk it out" side and some of us on the "do it or you are grounded" side and BOTH ARE OKAY. Yet, coming into the photo session with a mindset full of positivity and excitement will absolutely transfer over to your children and make for an amazing session. Children are sponges and the most beneficial thing we can do for them leading into the photo session is provide a neutral, stable and excited slate for them to build on.
For family photos, I always try my best to get that perfect posed photo you can print and hang on the wall but my galleries yield a ton of movement filled, candid photos that I give prompts for. The prompts I give are easy to follow and usually align with daily movements you already naturally do like "boop your daughters nose" or "give mommy a kiss on the cheek" or even "everyone hold hands and let daddy lead you on an adventure" or even a simple "kids, play with each other" because that's what kids do, they play!
Lets talk about the Location Guide [if this is an open ended location request and not a predetermined mini spot] and Style Guide that I send to you before the session. These guides are curated specifically for families because again, scheduling and preparing for photos can be overwhelming. My goal here is to make this process as smooth and enjoyable as possible. These guides will help you navigate those tough decisions. Things I recommend bringing or doing? Check out my list below.
What to consider bringing?
- Comb if your child has unruly hair
- Water and snacks [dry snacks]
- In between seasons? Layer up, cold kids make unhappy kids
- Lint roller
- Wipes or kleenex for littles
What to do?
- Make sure no one is hungry or sleepy
- Make sure faces are free of snot and crumbs
- Explain to your child/ren what is going to happen, playing while Juls takes photos
- Let the kids be kids, I will get the shot
- RELAX and enjoy these special moments
Enjoy yourself. I promise I know what I am doing, that's why you hired a professional after all. Let them be kids, enjoy the beautiful season of parenthood and I promise your gallery with be treasured for years and years to come. While we always strive for that one perfectly posed with everyone smiling photo, we want the gallery to be authentic.