You have researched multiple photographers and have been planning your family photography session for months. Your partner and kids, on the other hand, have not.
Over my years of photographing families, I’ve discovered that getting the entire family on the same page can make a huge difference in a session. When everyone is enthusiastic and understands what we’re hoping to accomplish, it shows in the images we capture!
Consider this post your guide to prepping your partner and children for a fun and successful family photo session!
Let’s begin with your co-parent.
My first suggestion is to share my portfolio with your partner in advance.
You could also have them follow my social media accounts if they are active on Instagram or Facebook. Seeing other relaxed, happy families will give them a sense of the types of images we will be creating together. They’ll notice very few if any, shots of grinning families looking directly at the camera. Instead, the photos are of parents and children cuddling, playing, and enjoying time with one another.
Looking at my portfolio together is the perfect opportunity to explain that they don’t have to look at the camera. In fact, unless I tell them otherwise, they should try to pretend the camera isn’t there. You can also reassure them that they don’t have to be a model or know how to pose. I’ll be there every step of the way, guiding you all with easy prompts that get us the photos you’ll treasure.
It’s also helpful to remind your partner that they have “permission to play.”
It can be hard to take off the authority hat and just play, but I promise that’s the best approach. Reassure your partner that they can relax, have fun, and let their kids be kids.
It’s crucial that they avoid the urge to yell at the kids, even if things seem chaotic—no one wants to snuggle after their Dad says he’s going to take away screen time. This advice is extra important if you are adding film to your session. It’s so sad to throw away amazing footage because a frustrated parent is stewing in the background. Let me be clear, we all get annoyed with our kids sometimes. But today’s a day to let it all go and just enjoy them. And it’s fine to ignore the mess, too—especially if you’ve borrowed clothes from the Client Closet.
Beyond smiling through the craziness, they should be prepared to get a free workout at the session since they’ll be throwing, swinging, and chasing their kiddos. Maybe have them stretch beforehand? You know your partner best!
Once you and your partner are aligned, it’s time to think about preparing your kids for a successful shoot.
I encourage my clients to hype their kids up for how much fun the session will be. If your session is outdoors, explain that they will get to explore a cool new place. If I’m coming to your home, you can get them excited to meet a new friend and show off their favorite toys and spots in your house.
Make sure everyone is fresh, fed, and rested.
Keep the day low-key before your session. Nothing is harder than motivating overtired, overstimulated kids to participate in a photoshoot. If you have little ones who still nap, you may need to push naptimes later to accommodate a later session time, particularly in the summer. I know that messing with a nap can cause some anxiety (at least it did for me as a mom of littles). Trust me; it’s all worth it, and one day of adjusting nap won’t break anything for good.
Feed everyone before the session and bring non-messy snacks just in case anyone gets hangry. Try not to bring the snacks out during the shoot unless you really need to—otherwise, they can become more of a distraction than a help.
Prepare outfits in advance—but wait to get dressed!
Have all of the clothing cleaned and ready to go, but wait until right beforehand to get dressed. And if you have a little one, beware of the dreaded car poop. If possible, hold off on putting your baby’s outfit on until you arrive at your destination.
Even though I do this for a living, this totally happened to me when my youngest was a baby. Thankfully it was warm out, and he looked super sweet in makeshift bottoms only, but that was a stressful moment I don’t want to relive!
Keep things as easy and relaxed as possible for your whole family on the day of the session.
We all know the feeling of trying to beat the phone’s GPS estimated arrival time as we race to a destination. This is not the energy we are looking for on the day of your session!
Instead, give yourselves plenty of time to pack up the family and get to your destination. Or, book an in-home session to take travel time out of the equation entirely. Plan to arrive 15 minutes before the session so you can make any last-minute wardrobe adjustments, settle in, and begin to explore before we break out the camera.
Are you getting excited about the possibility of making memories with your family on camera this year?
If you’d like to be the first to know when new session dates are released, my email list is the place to be.
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Angie Wynne Photography serves the St. Louis and surrounding areas specializing in lifestyle family, newborn, and maternity photography.
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