“Say Cheese!” Survival Tips For A Family Photo Shoot


Fall is in full swing! That means it’s time for cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, and getting ready for the holiday season. Also if your family is anything like mine, fall means time for a family photo shoot. Family photo shoots sound fun – in theory. It’s time to capture how much your kids have grown and how much you enjoy spending time together as a family.

Of course, like most things that seem fun, with children it’s never that easy. The stress of picking a day and hoping it won’t rain. Then trying to find a time that won’t mess up your children’s nap. I don’t even attempt to coordinate our outfits. In our six years of doing our annual family photo shoot there have been tears, meltdowns, hangry outrages, and the constant need for a bathroom or a diaper change. I’m in no way an expert on what makes a great family photo shoot but I have learned some things along the way.

Choose Your Photographer Wisely

You don’t want to pick a photographer who’s only used to doing headshots or only has experience with adults. You want someone who has a lot of experience with families. Especially little children. The patience of the photographer will make all the difference in how many photos you have to choose from. Choose someone friendly not just towards you but your children. Reach out to your friends who have done photo shoots in the past and get their opinion. You not only have to like them, but your children do as well.

The photographers personality is important but so is their style of photography. If you want all posed images don’t use a photographer who likes candids and vice versa. Research the photographer’s social media and website to get a sense of their style. Ask them what kind of editing can be your done to your pictures. For example, my photographer can “face swap.” Meaning if there is one member of our family (more than likely my 4 year old) not looking at the camera or crying she can swap that image with another where he is smiling brightly. You can only make your kid smile so much – pick a photographer that can provide some extra help in the editing room.

Bribe, Bribe, Bribe

I don’t particularly like bribing my children for good behavior, but in some cases it has to be done. Family photo shoots are one of those times. This year we did our photo shoot at a location that had a playground. We bribed our kids with that. Every time my four year old tried to veer off course we mentioned the playground and it snapped him back to shape. If your location has a playground use that to your advantage. We have also bribed with food. My only opinion on food is that make sure you pick something that won’t stain their hands or something they can spill on themselves. Because you know they will! If your son is obsessed with cars buy a $0.99 Hot-wheels car that he’s never seen before as a last bribing resort.

Let Them Have Fun

My family loves the candid photos so we try to leave those to the very end of our photo shoot. We get all of our posed shots done first and then let the kids run. The leaves on the ground make great fun for them to play in and throw at each other. It also makes for great candid shots of the kids in their element. Some of our favorite shots are of the kids just running around, not looking at the camera. Bottom line is that a photo shoot for kids is boring. They never want to sit still at home so why would that be any different simply because you’re paying money to have their picture taken. After all that posing and smiling they need some time to decompress and just have fun. It will rejuvenate them and you’ll get some great pictures out of it!

Don’t Stress What You Can’t Control

Family photo shoots can be stressful. You’re paying money so you want the pictures to come out great. However you can’t control what mood your kids wake up in or what the weather is like. Maybe you won’t have your favorite location. Or maybe you’ll have to use every bribe you can think of just to get one smile out of them. No matter what happens, if you’re stressed during the pictures, your children will be too. Even if you have to walk off for a second to take a breath, try to keep from yelling or getting angry. If you start yelling that will definitely ignite the tears and it will take your kids that much longer to recover and get back into picture mode.

So what if at the end of the day you get more pictures of your kid crying than smiling. To be honest sometimes those pictures are more amusing than the smiling ones. (I mean how many smiling Santa pictures do you see going viral? It’s always the one of the kid screaming). 

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lynn Photography

What tips do you have for surviving a family photo shoot?


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