Family photo season is finally here! The seasons are changing, beautiful foliage abounds and Christmas is right around the corner. Now is the time to start thinking about scheduling a photo shoot if you want images for your Christmas cards.
If the thought of coordinating your whole family in stylish outfits and getting your kids to smile for the camera strikes fear in your heart you're not alone. Children are notoriously unpredictable (perhaps you've noticed?) and short of praying or doing a rain dance there's not much you can do to guarantee your child will be in a happy mood for photo day. However, there are some things you can do in advance that will ensure everyone is prepared. I've compiled a list of my top tips for a smooth family photo session:
1. Bring snacks. A fed child is a happy child. I try to have some snacks (bribes) on hand but if your child is picky or has allergies it's always a good idea to bring your own.
2. Naps: Schedule your session for your children's "happy" time of day. If they're usually cheerful in the morning try and schedule your session at that time. If they have epic meltdowns right before dinner they probably won't do well with an evening shoot.
3. Clothing: Probably the biggest source of stress besides children's behavior. If you're not a fashionista it can be hard to pick out coordinating outfits for everyone. A general rule of thumb is to pick 2-3 colors and stick within that palate. Neutrals count as colors too. My favorite colors for fall are Tan, brown, taupe, cream, grey, maroon, yellow, and navy blue. You can visit my separate what to wear guide here
4. No pressure: Prepare your children for the photo session but you don't have to threaten them to behave. If they're reluctant to come you could promise them a trip to the park after, ice cream, or another special treat. If they do have a meltdown at the photo shoot it's okay. They're usually smiling a few minutes later!
5. Communicate: Make sure to discuss with your photographer all the things that are important to you BEFORE your session. If getting a shot of everyone looking at the camera is your number one goal be sure to let your photographer know. A good photographer will do everything in their power to get you the shots you want and they should listen to you. That being said, understand that children are unpredictable (not just your kids, all kids!) and you may not get the exact shot you have in mind.
6. Prepare the kids: Tell them you're going to have a family adventure and you have to get all dressed up. If they're not convinced try to schedule a trip to the park or ice cream after the session if they listen well for the photos. If your husband isn't convinced tell him he can go golfing after or whatever it is that husbands like to do!
7. Relax: Guess what happens when you ask a toddler to smile and look at a stranger... they freak out! Instead of stressing about everyone looking at the camera, play with your kids and enjoy yourself instead! A toddler would much rather play peek-a-boo with mom or get tickled by dad than stare at a stranger with a black box. Playing with your kids brings out real smiles and your stealthy photographer can snap away while you casually walk down a wooded path or have a picnic in a field.
I hope I've given you some tips you can use for your next session, remember it's supposed to be fun and just go with the flow. If you have any tips that work for your family please share them below!
If you're ready to take the plunge and try a session for yourself, I'm offering mini sessions in Framingham, MA on October 15th and 16th. Visit this link for booking information.