Wondering how to prepare kids for family pictures? Learn some top tips from a real photographer…
I recently had some AMAZING family photos done by Olivia from Liv In The Moment Photography that I simply can’t wait to start putting all over our home (all I need are some worthy frames, and maybe a few canvas prints).
She was incredible to work with, and I highly recommend her to all of my local readers in the Metro Detroit area.
Today’s post is a guest blog written by Olivia, and she’s giving you all the deets on how to prepare kids for family pictures…
How To Prep Your Kids For Family Pictures
Family pictures can be so much work.
There are calendars to coordinate, outfits to plan, wash, and iron.
Some of you may have to convince your husband to cooperate, and then you still have to make sure everyone else is ready before yourself!
You do all this work to make sure that everything goes exactly as planned, you pull up to your photoshoot annnnnd your sweet darling child starts a full-on MELTDOWN.
What do you do?
Hey guys, this is Olivia from Liv in the Moment Photography.
I wanted to share a few of my tips and tricks on preparing your kids for family portraits.
The situation that I described above happens to all of us.
There is only so much that we can control, and somedays things like this just happen.
There are a few things that you can do ahead of time though, that might help things go a little more smoothly.
Explain what’s going to happen (or don’t!)
Depending on the age of your kids, explaining to them exactly what’s going to happen can be a very useful thing!
Most kids will appreciate something along the lines of “Tomorrow night we’re going to go to the park and meet a nice lady named Olivia. We’re going to go for walks and hug and play at the park and she’s going to take some pictures of us. Then when we’re done, we’re going to…”
If your kids are shy, this can be an especially useful way to prep them for what’s going to happen.
However, if your kids are younger, or have a lot more energy, it might be a better idea not to tell them what’s happening.
All kids, regardless of their age, tend to be really shy when we first meet.
This is the perfect time for me to get more of those formal family pictures because they’re quiet, a little confused, and have no idea why their parents are talking to some random lady at the park.
That shyness typically only lasts a few minutes though, because then we’ll be best friends playing peek-a-boo or keeping “secrets” from mom and dad!
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On Them Behaving Perfectly
This is the number one mistake I see parents make.
It usually happens along the lines of “Just stand still and SMILE!” Or “Look like you LOVE each other!”
Or my personal favorite…
“If you don’t get a better attitude then your NOT getting ice cream later!”
Talk about a downer!
There is literally no way for me to be able to get your kids in a better mood when this situation happens.
You end up with stale, formal, fake smiles from your kids and end up missing out on all of those beautiful (albeit a little naughty) in-between moments.
A big brother tying his little brother’s shoes.
Dad scooping mom up into a big bear hug.
Real-life giggles and grossed-out faces when mom and dad kiss…AGAIN.
Let’s get cuddly!
Try to keep the atmosphere quiet and calm.
Especially when it’s time to get your individual pictures with each of your kids.
Sure, you’ll smile at the camera for some of them, but for all of those other ones try doing something different.
Kiss them on the forehead. Hug them for longer than you normally would.
Tell your older kids that you love them and are proud of them.
This isn’t just about the camera, it’s about taking the time to spend some quality time with your family.
Most of my clients find that their family session is a really unexpected time for them to bond together as a family.
Really try to be in tune with your photographer and the energy that they’re putting out.
Sometimes we’ll run and skip and play chase.
Other times we’ll hold hands, cuddle, and tell secrets.
When All Else Fails, Bribe Them
I’m not above this.
Sometimes things like, “If you’re good and listen to Olivia, then we’ll get ice cream afterward!” works like magic, but I also always recommend having a secret ace in your back pocket.
For example, I always bring the cherry and strawberry dum dum suckers to every family session.
It’s perfect for when there’s a full-on meltdown and you just need to distract them.
If you have a special treat specific to your child, please tell me once you get to your session.
By letting the photographer be the one to give it to your kids, it gives them some control and authority in the situation.
It also helps because I have a whole bag of tricks up my sleeves!
There have been many times when I almost had the kid happy again by doing something silly, only to have the stressed-out parent give a bright blue lollipop to their kid.
Then the next 3 minutes are spent with the child crying, parents struggling to get the candy open, and me thinking about how freaking long it’s going to take me to Photoshop away blue lips…
Try To Relax
It’s all going to be okay.
If you trust your photographer, then you are going to get some beautiful and completely personalized pictures to your family.
Don’t be embarrassed if your kid has a meltdown, because it’s family pictures and I can guarantee that it’s not the first time there was a temper tantrum and it certainly won’t be the last.
When you book the right family photographer, they’ll know how to make the entire session into a big game that will have everyone laughing and feeling involved.
There will be secret tickle attacks and lots of rounds of “Simon Says”.
There may be tears.
There may be grass-stained knees.
But at the end of the day it will be your family and your beautiful life.
Don’t worry about what happens in between.
Thanks so much for reading – I hoped this post and these amazing tips from Olivia helped you learn some different techniques for how to prepare kids for family pictures.
To book your family portrait session, go to https://www.livinthemomentphotography.com!
What special tips or tricks do you use to get your children ready for family photos? Share with me in the comments below!
*Post originally published November 2018, last updated December 2021.
Monday 12th of November 2018
This is so helpful!! We are taking our first set of family holiday picture this coming weekend and I know I need to remember to relax. We have a one year old so all bets are off in terms of what the outcome will be haha!
Friday 9th of November 2018
This is such good advice! I am pinning this for later. We don't have kids yet, but hope to in the next couple of years. Family pictures will be something we participate in.
Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen
Friday 9th of November 2018
Oh gosh, thanks for the tips! I've got a three year old who doesn't like taking pictures and boy oh boy I'll use all these tips these season.
Thursday 8th of November 2018
I love "real" life pictures, like the one of them running! I always struggle with getting my 10, 8, and 2 year old to all look at once, but I have learned to love the real life pictures.
Thursday 8th of November 2018
I totally needed this! I do my sisters photos for her of her kids and she has three and they get distracted so easily and sometimes it is a little tough for photos, but this will be helpful!