Evening family portrait on the bay
Children,  Family Portraits,  Portraits

Five helpful tips for a fantastic family portrait session

Fall family portrait season just about here! So I thought it was time to make a list of some of the things that could help make your family photo session a little more successful. This list mostly applies to photographing kids 12 and under, but some things might work well for a grumpy husband or grandpa too 😉 So without further ado, here are my tips for getting that perfect family photo!

5) Let ME worry about getting the kids to smile 😁

I need their focus to be on me! If the kids are distracted and you try to get their attention, it will then be on you, not my camera. Worse is when there are multiple family members all vying to get a toddler to notice them. It takes the attention off my lens, which is where it should be! So… just sit back and let me take the lead. I’ve got quite the bag of tricks — sometimes literally. And if I need help… believe me, I’ll ask 👍

4) Don’t rely on bribes 🍦

This is a tricky one.. because a lot of times a bribe does actually work quite well! I have seen the promise of an ice cream cone after the session turn a child from devil to angel in a matter of seconds. However… there is a big caveat here!! Don’t threaten to take away the bribe if their behavior doesn’t improve. I can’t stress his enough. Nothing is guaranteed to bring on the tears more than promises of ice cream dashed to pieces.

Adorable toddler in a blue dress

3) Know your children… and accept who they are.

Some kids just… don’t… smile… much 😐 And that’s ok! If you’re hoping for that picture-perfect family photo where everyone is smiling looking at the camera, I understand. And I try to make sure I get at least one every session. However, there are some kids who are super pleasant and easy-going, but just don’t bring the grins. And there are some kids who just won’t sit still at all – they just want to explore and do their thing.

So: rather than try to force your kid into a pose they don’t want to do, I’ve found it’s better to try to go with their mood and let them do their thing. Sometimes this means turning a sit-down pose into an action-packed play session. Or perhaps we shoot a documentary-style lifestyle portrait instead.

So, while we do our best to get the perfect mantelpiece photo you’re hoping for, be mindful that this is highly dependent on your child’s personality (or particular mood that day).

2) Parents – eyes on me, not the kids 👀

Sometimes getting all the kids to smile and look at the camera at the same time can be a challenge. So it helps me a lot if all the adults just keep looking at the camera and smiling, no matter what! If your youngest is wiggling and being silly, resist the urge to look down at them to get their attention. I guarantee – the moment you do is when they’ll flash me that perfect smile. So just keep smiling and looking at the camera so that when they do look up and flash the perfect grin, we’re ready!

1) Let’s Have Fun! 

The fact is, not everyone in your family wants to do this. Maybe you are the only one! And to some kids, the idea of meeting a Stranger to do this Very Important Thing can be a bit intimidating. I do my best to keep it relaxed and fun to get the kids into the right mood, but I need your help with this too! Kids are very attuned to your vibe and if you’re giving off frustration or anger, they are going to react accordingly. So, don’t worry if the session is going as planned – just roll with it – and we’ll still get some great shots!  

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