Mom confession: I have a slight obsession with taking professional family photos. My husband and my wallet hate it, but, I can’t help capturing the cute, color-coordinated moments forever. And, with the kids constantly changing as they grow, it’s like I feel the need to always capture their ever-changing features. Whether you’re always on the hunt for a nice photo opp or you only take one holiday photo a year, here are some tips and tricks from a photo session junkie.
1. Do bring small, edible treats.
With young kids, taking photos is not necessarily their jam. And with a family photo and an individual photo and maybe a cute sibling photo to take or two, that’s a struggle for them to sit still and smile at nothing for what seems like an eternity. Enter the very small, edible visual incentive. Because you may want to capture several different poses with the young child, you’ll want to reward them – very much like a dog doing tricks for a treat. Dangling a small edible treat (we like sweetheart cheweys) behind the photographer that can easily be eaten before taking the next photo can help keep the child focused on Mommy’s task at hand. The trick is that it needs to be something they enjoy but not messy and can easily be eaten in a matter of seconds before the next photo.
Side tip: Don’t lump the reward for after the entire photo session. It needs to be immediate. Keeping the treats edible and small allows them to be consumed after every single photo and will keep the kiddos nearby and wanting to do more “tricks” for their treat.
2. Don’t spend $$$ just for nice shoes.
I can’t tell you how many times I would schedule a photo session and drop so much money on accessories or nice shoes just for the photo. But, do you really need the shoes? If you’re taking an outdoor photo in the Spring or Summer, doing so barefoot is cheaper, easier, and actually adds a fun and cute touch to the family photo. Even if you’re wanting to take a nicer more formal family photo, you don’t need to get feet in the shot. There are so many angles to take that won’t get the one detail you’re hoping to hide.
3. Do follow all of the photographers on social media.
As with everything else, prices in photo sessions have gone up. And, when you love taking them as much as I do, it can get pricey. I make a point to follow almost every local photographer I come across. Whether I’m familiar with their work or not, it doesn’t hurt to follow their page. This is especially good to do for photographers who are just starting out as their prices typically aren’t as high, and though they’re not as experienced, their finished product is still better than what I can do with my phone’s camera. I make a point to jump on their mini sessions that might be cheaper – especially for busy seasons like Fall and Christmas.
4. Don’t be too matchy-matchy.
In a family photo, you definitely want to look coordinated, but you don’t want to overmatch the kids. Meaning, don’t dress varied-aged siblings (if you have more than two) in identical outfits, and don’t all try to wear the exact same color. Shoot for the same pattern but a different style (i.e. a dress and a bubble for sisters). Or, sticking with at least 3 colors to wear amongst the family will add variety but still pull everyone together nicely.
Side tip: It does not hurt to message the photographer ahead of time for a sneak peek of the set-up or to ask what colors she plans on using.
5. Do embrace the chaos.
If you have multiple young kiddos needing to sit quietly and still for family photos, you need to prepare yourself that the photo you have in your head may not happen. But, that’s ok! Embracing the chaos and capturing the crazy might turn out to be an even better photo than you expected. One of our Christmas photo sessions was just not going as planned – the kids were extra hyped up and misbehaved for some reason. We decided to roll with it and as the kids ran crazy circles around us, my husband and I just kissed each other as the photographer snapped away. It ended up being one of my favorites and captures a very fun and realistic photo of our family.
Side tip: Do not expect to get well-behaved individual photos after doing this though.
6. Don’t take the same pose for every child.
This kind of goes along with my previous tip of not looking identical. If you have multiple children in the session, when it comes time to take individual poses, let their personalities shine. Every child doesn’t have to sit on the bench with their hands crossed in their lap. Have a child put their feet up and lean back; maybe have someone lie on their belly propping their head up with their hands. Standing behind a bench with hands in pockets or leaning with one hand on something is fine too. There are so many different poses that would cater to any personality. My 4yo always likes to play with the props that are around – this could be a cute route to go as well. Stating your desire for variety to the photographer when you get there would be helpful as she may have plenty of ideas from what she’s done in the past.