family hangs out outside

Family Photography

Stop Worrying About Your Children’s Behavior During a Photography Session!

Enjoy Your Family Photoshoot

Many mamas and papas worry about how their children will behave during their family photography.

Comments I have heard or been asked include:

“What if my baby doesn’t sleep like normal the night before our session? Or if she misses her nap?”

“So, my little fellow doesn’t follow instructions. At all.”

“My daughter won’t sit still for even a second.”

“My young son says no to everything.”

“My kiddo is super shy.”

“My teen hates being in photos.”

“My teen thinks photo sessions are dumb.”

I’ve heard it all, photographed through it, and have survived! Stop worrying!

laughing dad and daughter

Back Story

First, boy mom alert! I have two sons and have seen and dealt with EVERYTHING.

I also used to be a preschool teacher.

And, I’ve been doing this for over 10 years. I guarantee your child will not be the worst behaved person I have ever photographed!

Helpful Ideas and Tips

Choose Your Photo Session Location Wisely

As I ALWAYS SAY, I LOVE LOVE LOVE in home family photography sessions. These are so great for helping with children and spouse behavior in many ways. Both kids and spouses are more comfortable in their own space, and can take breaks while I photograph other family members. (During breaks, partners can refill coffee/young kids can snuggle with a favorite stuffy/teens can check in with technology/etc.)

Plus, in your home, let your kids be kids! Let’s jump on beds to get out energy. If a baby falls asleep, let’s take sweet sleeping photos. It’s easy peasy, without the stress of packing snacks, multiple outfits, loading up a car, worrying about little ones falling asleep on the way to the photo session. Stop worrying!

Another perk about in home family sessions, especially if you have a toddler, is that there are confined spaces to photograph them. Many toddlers will run away from me if we are photographing at a park (and do so incredibly gleefully). But sitting them on a chair or their bed means I can typically quickly get a variety of expressions from them.

Or, if we are photographing outdoors, let’s pick an appropriate park where kids can safely burn off energy and be themselves. Let me capture them running, jumping, playing.

Playground features are a nice option for the end of a session, but if you don’t want often ugly-ish equipment to appear in your photos, pick a spot without that feature.

a daughter runs away from her mom

Manage Your Expectations

I love the one classic holiday card photo, and I also prefer to capture more loose and less posed images of you and yours interacting and loving on each other. This means kids gets to be kids. They can move, they can run,  they don’t need to be perfect listeners, they can even be a little grumpy. Let’s embrace who they are, and just have fun. It is up to me to switch gears and keep things light and moving along.

Parents should not get caught up in getting their kids to be perfect. Relax and let them have fun. Know that they are not the worst behaved children. Enjoy their goofiness, stubbornness, and big personalities! Stop worrying!

(PS-Also consider letting them do things that are normally off limits, like jumping on beds or couches!)

family of four play on bed

Timing it All

A few thoughts on time. Young kids typically do best earlier in the day. So consider scheduling a morning session.  Teens may do better later in the day. Consider an evening session.

I don’t time my photography sessions. Full sessions typically last an hour, but I will often photograph families with younger children for longer amounts of time. I don’t look at my watch–I make sure we get what we need and I try to read everyone’s energy levels.

mom hugs her son

Bribery or Reward?

I have no opinions on this. Some children do respond well to the promise of a treat or ice cream after a photography session. I just ask that you avoid feeding your kids throughout our session (unless we need a one and done food break to help you kid be happy!). You know your kid best!

tips for an enjoyable family photoshoot
best tips for an easy family photography sessions
how to stop worrying about children's behavior during a photography session

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I've been photographing families professionally since 2006. I am a wife, mama to 2 boys, companion to 2 cats who are named after members of the royal British family, a former preschool teacher. I love running, hiking 14ers, sparkly clothes, the band Phish, river float trips, St. John USVI, farm CSAs, and Colorado blue skies.