Before your family photos happen, here is a list of DO'S:
Full tummies. Most family sessions are scheduled on or near dinner time. This can be a tricky for hungry tummies. If you have plans to go out for dinner afterwards, that's fine BUT give the kids (and dad...) a good healthy snack. They'll need something that won't burn off too quickly. Click here for my Pinterest board with great ideas!
Prepare them. Explain to the family what is going to happen at your family photo session. You can play pretend and have a mock photo shoot. You don't need to use a real camera either! Just mime a camera and make the fun "Click!" sound. Take "photos" of the kids and let them take some of you! You'll have lots of fun pretending and it will give the kids a look into what will happen at the real photo session.
Bribery. I am 100% OK with bribing your children. I do it all the time with my own! Give clear expectations about how you want them to listen & obey. You might need to remind them a few times during the session about how they need to behave in order to receive whatever amazing thing you've offered. Donuts, candy, stickers, hot wheels, trip to the dollar store, stay up late, TWO bedtime stories... Kids are so easy to please!
Prepare your photographer. Hey, that's me! If you've booked a session with me, you'll hear from me about a week before your session. I'll ask for all the fun details about your family. Tell me what I need to know about your family. Take that opportunity to tell me something about your kids! What's their favorite movie? Who is their favorite superhero? What kind of activities do they enjoy? Any information you give me is extremely useful. I play music at all my sessions so, if you tell me your kiddos LOVE Moana, I'll make sure to play their favorite songs from Moana! Their little ears will perk right up when they hear those familiar songs and a genuine smile will appear on those cute faces.
Good cop, Bad Cop. For the first time in your mom career, you can let someone else be the "bad cop". I don't mean this in a physical or intimidating way! Just let me be the one to get their attention. You won't need to repeat their name a million times, "Dean! Dean! Dean! Look right here! DEEEEAAAN!" Leave that to me! I have a few tricks up my sleeve but I don't want the parents to feel like they are nagging their children. The kids will probably just rebel and not want to listen even more, haha!
Rest is best. Naps for everyone! If naptime is still a thing in your home, don't skip it the day before of the day of your session. Well-rested humans are happy humans! Even if naptime isn't a thing in your home, make sure everyone is well rested and has down time beforehand. Save all that energy for a fun photo shoot!
Let them be little. I guess this isn't technically a way to get your kids to cooperate. It's a tip for the parents. Please pleeeease don't stress if your little one isn't doing exactly what we want them to do. It's ok! They might just be a little shy or need to warm up to me. Let's allow them some time to get used to the situation. If that means letting them explore or play with you for a few minutes, heck yes! I'll just follow behind and capture their sweet personalities.
Do Not's (short list because I'm an optimist!)
Scare them. "If you don't behave, then x, y, z will happen!" Yikes! Don't make them scared of me! Keep things light and happy.
Get angry. Your children will feed off of your emotions. So, if you're angry or upset, they'll feel it.
Bring a toy or blanket. Unless you're ok with them being in the photos, I would try not to bring those items. Instead, I've had children find "a cool rock" and hold onto that during the session. It's small enough to fit in their hands and be hidden and less obvious than a bright blanket.
I hope you feel less anxious about your next family photo session! This should be a fun time for your family--not a stressful one.
I am excited for your upcoming portrait session. Be prepared for some music, games and having fun!