Anaheim Family Photographer | How to Prepare Your Kids for Your Photo Session
OCTOBER 20, 2023
Hey everyone and happy holiday card season (yes, I've termed it a season because it most definitely is)! For today's blog I wanted to chat about those holiday sessions we all do, and more specifically about kids, and how to prep them. Almost every time I meet a new family, the parents always worry about their kids, how they will behave, and how they will look. I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about this, and how to prepare them for your session, and what to expect during one. As an Orange County family and child photographer, I have spent years on ways to get kids to look, feel, and smile their best! Here are a few of my tips for you and your sweet kiddos.
1. Make sure your kids are well rested and well fed. I cannot stress this enough especially for younger ones - kids who are hungry or tired just won't cooperate and play the way kids who are will. It can be tempting to cram in activities before your session, because, well, life gets busy! And we all have a million and one things to do. But plan the day or your session to be relaxed, let your kids have their naps, play with their toys, and get ready without rushing. You'll all arrive to your session happier and calmer, and that's what lets the magic happen!
2. Make sure your kids are comfortable and liking their outfits ahead of time. Kids wear their hearts and emotions on their sleeve, and if they don't like what they are wearing, or worse it's uncomfortable, it will show. Your child can't be running around and laughing if they are constantly having to adjust their clothes. So try on those outfits ahead of time, and get your kiddo's blessing on it! They'll come to the session comfortable, and ready to have fun!
3. Let kids be kids! Often, parents are so focused on getting that perfect smile, that the stress they are feeling rubs off onto the kiddos. I do include posed images during my sessions, but my favorite parts are when I just let kids be, having fun and running around! Not only does this give the cutest candid smiles, but it lets kids have a small mental break from being "on" all through the session.
4. Bring a favorite toy or use my props! Kids have tons of energy, and one of the things that I've found is that kids need to be doing something with their hands at all times. One of the best ways to do this is to give the child something to play with, like their favorite toy or stuffie. Not only does this give super cute photos, it also captures your child with the thing they love most at that moment in time, freezing that memory forever. I have props as well that I'm always happy to bring, and so many kids just love to use natural props, like sticks, rocks and flowers. Either way you get an image with life, motion and character!
5. Talk to your kids (and husband ;-)) about your session ahead of time. Don't tell them they have to behave or give their best smiles (I'll take care of that!), but rather tell them someone will be taking their photo at the park (and even take them there ahead of time or early so they are familiar with it) and that it will be so much fun! Tell them we'll run, play games, and laugh and make it seem like fun (because it will be!) rather than a chore, and you'll go into it with a happier kid, and out of it with better images!
6. Getting natural smiles. Many times, parents will tell their kids to smile big, or say cheese! But the fact is neither of this will get the smiles you are looking for. Rather, those come with genuine happiness and laughter. So we'll play some games, run around, tell fart jokes (for real, as long as parents are ok with it!) or be silly to make your kids have natural smiles rather than forced ones. It may seem silly, but the end result is totally worth it!
7. Consider a reward if your kids do well with them. Often times, telling kids (especially the younger or nervous ones) that they'll get a special treat after the session keeps their excitement up through the session, especially if you keep talking about it! Telling your kiddo something like "I can't wait for our ice cream after the session!" or "Tell me what flavor ice cream you'll pick on our way home!" gets kids excited, talking, and interacting with you and the camera, which in turn gives fun, candid photos!
8. Don't worry if your child has a "moment" or has a tantrum for a bit. This is totally expected and common, as kids get overwhelmed easily, especially those under the age of 7. If this happens, I am totally prepared for it! We'll give your kiddo a break, let them play , have a snack, regroup, and then continue on. I build in plenty of time to have your kids be comfortable and happy in front of the camera. And honestly, some of the sweetest photos I've taken have been those when parents are comforting, hugging, or loving on their kiddos after this happens, so please don't stress about it!
9. Let your kids have their imagination run wild! I have some really fun photo props that need kids to use that amazing imagination they have. I'll ask them to imagine they see butterflies, fireflies, dragonflies, and so much more! The expressions this brings is just so stinking cute and I love to make magic with your kiddo.
10. Relax and let me handle the fun! I've been doing this for a while, and I love to be silly, ask funny questions, and get kids involved. This takes the stress off you, and by extension your kids as well. I promise you'll have a happy, fun filled session that brings so many photos you love!
Thanks for reading, and I hope this post helps you with your upcoming session! If you haven't scheduled your Orange County family photography session yet, let's chat!