Pinterest is the devil. Do you know how many people send me pictures of kids found on Pinterest and want their kid to be posed JUST LIKE THAT? Do you know how many parents Mamas (if we are honest) will not LOVE that picture as much as they do others from a session because they already had that predisposed image in their head? Now, I know that we can be inspired from Pinterest posts, I am too, but inspiration can be just that- inspiration only. I wanted to share some of the tips I have learned from working with children (even my own) that I think will help you be more pleased with the end product.
- Feed the Child, and let him nap if he needs too.
I know that you have heard this- make sure that your child is well rested and fed…blah,blah,blah…but really, how happy are you when you are hungry and tired? You can ask my husband- my 3 year and I are both bears when we are tired, let alone hungry.
What I recommend is trying to schedule your session with what works best with your children’s schedules. I know that is not always possible, so if you must, bring a clean eating snack and drink with you if you think they might be hungry. (String cheese, raisins, marshmallows, or crackers clean up easily and any decent photographer can touch-up small stains if needed. Not that we enjoy touch-ups more than what we have to do them, but I promise, I would rather your child be happy and have a spot to edit out versus a child that hates us all because you did not feed him. Just saying.)
- Dress them comfortably.
Unless you are paying them really well to be uncomfortable for you, NO ONE is going to pose naturally or be HAPPY to be at a photo session so make sure to dress your kid as comfortable as you can….because happy is what we are going for! J And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE dress them for the season. I have seen children come to photo sessions in clothes that do not match the season and they are freezing or sweating and MISERABLE when they are done. It breaks my heart to see them this way when we could have made it better for them. And I promise, no one wants pictures where their child is not comfortable and dressed appropriately- that is not the memories we are looking for.
- Send me tips beforehand.
Did you know that the more I know about what interests your kid, the better I am able to interact with him? The better relationship we build right from the start, the more comfortable he will be around me which means I will get you that much better pictures. Which is what you want, right? Of course!
I did a photo session of my son this week for an upcoming baseball mini session promo, and would you believe that my 3 year old did not sit still and smile for me easily? I am so serious! I literally had to tell the kid that I was going to come kiss him if he did not smile well for me…because BEING HIS MOTHER, I know that he thinks he will get Mama Cooties if I kiss on him. So, when you go look at his pictures for that session, I want to you know that every good smile out of him was from me threatening to come kiss him.
That being said- I do not know your children as well as you do, and I don’t think I am comfortable threatening your child (especially one I just met for the first time) that I will kiss them if they aren’t participating well.
So, what tips are helpful? – What is their favorite show, favorite song, hobbies, interests, etc. What do they think is funny? Anything really that you think would help me engage with them, or anything I need to avoid so it keeps us sailing smoothly.
- Relax Mama.
Here is where I need for you to go back and read #1 and #2 again, but this time apply it to yourself. I have been there- you get your children dressed up for a session and then they turn into little terrors the moment you actually want them to be angels. I HAVE BEEN THERE. I understand where you are, but let’s keep in mind where the kids are in all of this. I only know one kid, literally, that ever wants to have a photo session. The others are all here because of YOU. They are taking this pictures for YOU. Now, it can be a magical fun time, if WE as the adults make it that way.
So, here is my promise to you. If you take care of yourself and come relaxed and excited for this photo session, I will do the same. I promise to be as cheesy with you as I need to be to get the kiddos fired up for YOU, but I also promise you that if they see Mama getting cross-haired, upset, or frustrated with them they will turn off so fast and we will lose them…and none of us want that.
So, tip #4 is make sure you take care of yourself and come relaxed and ready to play as well, because YOU Mama can make or break this too. J
- Let me play the “Grandma” role.
Now, I am not saying that I will load your child up with sugar or go behind your back on anything; I just honestly, did not know what else to call this. So moving on along…
Now, I do want you to be grateful for at least this little bit about letting ME play this role…if you were going to be the one spoiling then they might expect that from you later on. I, on the other hand, am not going home with you…or I don’t plan to anyways. You can go back to normal when I am not there, but while I am working with your children, I will let them get by with more than what you would- ONLY because I am trying to keep them HAPPY and entertained with a crazy lady who keeps sticking her head behind this flashing box and making weird noises at them.
No, I will not allow for them to do anything they could get hurt or that is inappropriate (other than bathroom humor and we do use that at times- especially with boys), but I want them to be comfortable during our time together and so I will not be “barking” orders at them. If you need to address something, then please do, but also refer back to #4…and be as nice as you can about it.
- Let’s create a Memory and not just photo images.
I love unposed sessions! I love to see you all interacting together and not paying me any attention. Those are my favorites, and as a Mama I want to see my kids love and play with each other. What I don’t love is my kids sitting next to each other and forcing a smile at me. I don’t want that and neither do you.
This is where you can come in and help. If you are in the pictures or not, you can interact with your kids to get them playing and having fun. Your energy will literally get theirs going and I promise you will not leave disappointed. Now, I can certainly get some of this without your assistance, but do you really want to leave a session feeling like you just showed up, did what you had to and hope for the best, or do you want to leave feeling like you just had fun with your family? I hope it is the latter and you leave with a good memory and not just photographs.
- Bribery is Rewards are ok, sometimes.
So, let me backtrack for a brief moment. I know I just said to let me do the spoiling, but that does not mean you are cut off from all bribery rewards. I hope you did not read #5, and think I am the Mama who does not take her littles to get ice cream after every photo sessions- BECAUSE I TOTALLY AM THAT MAMA! We get ice cream every time they do well, and I am ok with that. I mean, after all, they did participate for ME so why can I not reward THEM.
- Most importantly, cut them loose! (Yes, I just said that!)
I know that is not what most of you expect at a photo session, but kids are not made to be still for long, so let me chase them when I need to. Let them take breaks and play- or better yet, play with them. Again, we are not trying to take pictures, we are trying to create memories, and no one did that sitting still and looking at a camera.
Now, let me say this, I have had to chase a kid all the way across a field once because his mother was not interacting with him at all and he was at the age he just wanted to move. I am not saying to literally have me running after your child the whole session so please don’t make me eat those words. BUT if we balance between US (the adults) interacting with them and letting them move around more freely… the more YOU will get out of this and the more THEY will enjoy our time together!
I know that your family/children sessions can be fun and I know that you can walk away with more than just pictures, but MEMORIES as well! I hope that these above tips can help all of accomplish that more easily. Remember, I have been there. I play the photographer and the mother all at one time several times of year- and my kids don’t love the camera any more than yours do so I have my own set of challenges, but I always walk away with something I will cherish forever.
Just keep trying Mama, you are doing a good job!
Do you have any additional advice for Mamas out there? Share them below so you can be helpful to others as well. We are all lost in this together after all!
Have a great day and be sure to share this with your friends!