A lot of parents I meet have concerns about how their kids will behave during family photo sessions. But I sometimes wonder whether it's more how the parents will react to their kids during the session.
I GET IT. Almost everyone wants that one great photo of the family all looking at the camera - eyes open and smiling. I love the idea of having that photo, but I also know my kid and wrangling him to sit still for a photo is about a 5-second window.
It's hard to let go of control and accept the potential for chaos. Some people won't be able to and that's ok.
I'd like to share some tips on how to get kids to "behave" at photo sessions that may help lessen the stress or concerns around booking a photo session.
LET THEM CHOOSE AN ACTIVITY THEY LOVE DOING
Including your kids in planning a fun activity for the time that a photographer will be in your home or outdoors with you is a great way to make it about them and keep them engaged. If they are too young to decide, just make sure you are doing activities they love to do on a regular basis.
This may be storytime, going to the park, making pancakes, playing in the water in the backyard, making a fort or bathtime. Whatever your family loves to do together and especially something your kids love to do will be a hit!
That being said...
2. TRY IT ONCE THEN MOVE ON
If you try it once and there is massive resistance, don't force it. Just move on.
Time and time again I watch parents try to make their kids continue doing an activity or make them sit and smile to "get the photo" and it most often ends in major meltdowns. And meltdowns happen, leading to snuggles and sweet hugs which can result in some beautiful photos.
But learn from it - try it once and move on.
3. BRIBES ARE OK
DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT BRIBING YOUR KIDS.
Sometimes you just need that extra incentive to get your kids to last the entire session. Bribes can include and are not limited to; candy, ice cream, park visits, pool visits, tv time, chocolate and everything in between.
Why not treat everyone to something special when you're done your session?
4. TRY TO KEEP YOUR ROUTINE
If you have a routine on the weekends and adding a family photo session doesn't drastically disrupt it - try to stick with it. Including naps.
If every Saturday you wake up, make breakfast then prep to go to the playground - stick with that.
If every weekend afternoon you take the dog for a walk as a family - stick with that.
These are the moments in your day to day life that make up YOUR family story. Although they may seem mundane, these are the memories your children will have to look back on fondly.
Document the real day to day aspects of your life because in those moments are where the magic happens.
5. LET GO OF THE IDEA OF "BEHAVING"
Let go of all the ideas that you, your partner, your kids, your pets, whoever have to "behave" at a family photo session. What does that even mean?
It means to try embracing the mess and possible chaos (see tip #2).
It means to try to embrace "misbehaving".
It means embracing what "normal" is for you and document that! It's better to go with what you're comfortable with than not do photos at all!
The daily interactions between your family are what your children will look back on if or when they become parents and share stories of how fun their parents were (ahem, that's YOU).
Don't tell them a photographer is coming over to do photos. Tell them a friend is coming by for a visit to play, explore, go on adventures with.
My top 5 tips to get your kids to "behave" a family photo sessions.
I hope these have been helpful and if they seem completely foreign to you or unachievable, drop me a line here. I'd love to share with you how you CAN get from feeling uncomfortable to totally on board!