I have photographed hundreds of families in my 7 yrs in business. I have worked with everything from the future models with their perfect posing and their perfect smiles, to the children who literally wanted NOTHING to do with the lady with the camera, didn't want to sit still, didn't want to look at me much less smile at me. Yet somehow we still capture some amazing photos.
I am going to use one of my most recent families, WITH mom's permission, to explain how to relax, turn control over to the photographer, and ENJOY your family experience.
We ALL want that perfect photo of our family for the wall, holiday cards, and to share on social media. We spend HOURS planning our outfits, talking with our photographer about locations, products, and expectations for the photo session. And last but not least, we pray! We pray and beg and PLEAD for our children to behave, the weather to be nice (if we are going outside), and to get amazing photos from our session!!
Before photo session tips:
-First and foremost. If you can, try to book someone your child already knows, or try to have a meet and greet with the kids and the photographer before hand. I always suggest bringing children to the pre-session consultations to meet me, because then I am not just a strange lady with a camera the day of the session. I try to connect with them before the session so they remember me as the fun lady and will smile naturally for me.
-Pick outfits that coordinate, but aren't matchy matchy. I wrote and blog ALL about this HERE.
-Make sure the time for your session isn't too close to nap or bed times. Tired kids are cranky kids.
Tips for right before the photo shoot:
-TRY to stay calm. The kids will feed off your anxious energy. They will avoid naps if they are anxious, and we DON"T want that. Try to keep the routine the same, and act as if nothing out of the ordinary is going to happen.
- FEED the kids. Make sure their bellies are full before the session, and bring snacks for breaks and even....gasp.....bribing! If you have to eat on the way, and don't want the kids to mess up their outfits, bring their outfits and change them right before shooting.
Deb did all of this. She has known me for years, so her kids know me. Her kids were fed, clothed and ready to go. When I arrived to the location, the middle child, Ella, was having a melt down. Kids have a window of attention. Each age has a different threshold, but the 2-3 yr is the shortest. about 20-30 minutes before they want nothing to do with you. So I knew I was already going to have a challenge since she seemed as if she already wanted nothing to do with being there.
Tips for during the photo shoot:
-Let the photographer take control. Allow them to interact with your kids, pose (or unpose) them, use their little tricks to get those TRUE smiles.
-DON"T try to get your kid to look at the camera. The waving, smiling, and making loud noises will just make them look at YOU and not the camera. Unless the photographer asks for your help, let them get their attention.
-Don't scold or get angry with your kids. This will only make them more upset and less cooperative. Photo sessions will leave a bad taste in their mouths, and they will hate going again. I always suggest positive reinforcement during the shoots. I will bring out my "stern teacher voice" when i need the kids to pay attention. Or use the infamous "5,4 3,2,1" and that trick almost ALWAYS works to get kids to quiet down and pay attention.
MOST IMPORTANT TIP:
-HAVE FUN!!! interact with your children! Tickle, laugh, play....some of my favorite images are the moments in between the poses.
At First Deb did not relax. She was so worried about Ella ruining the session, and not cooperating, you could tell it was stressing her out, and she was trying to "make" Ella cooperate. after allowing Deb to try this tactic for about 20 mins, I finally said "Just let her be, I have a few ideas". I brought out props I thought would entice Ella, I let her run around and be herself, and allowed her to interact with her siblings and family the way she wanted to. Her family ended up with a FULL beautiful fall gallery.
"I was convinced Ella was going to ruin every photo. She already never smiles when it's time to take a picture. Add on a meltdown and I thought no way. Erin proved me wrong! Ella is the poster child and she handled her like a rockstar! Erin's advice to let you follow her around (and me to stop trying) was the key ingredient. I liked realizing the pressure was off me to get her to behave." -Deb
So let go, and have fun!!! Family photos are supposed to showcase your family, their personalities, and the love you have for one another.
To book your family photo session with Irish Eyes Photography, click here to contact us!