Ashleigh's Top Tips for a Successful Kids Session
Planning for a session that involves kiddos can be stressful for sure - regardless of age. From toddlers to teenagers, sometimes they're moody, unenthused, or just flat out melting down and it leaves parents feeling that they've wasted good money on a set of photos that only consist of crying or cranky kids! I've been there both as a mom myself and a professional photographer, and that's why I've created this little guide to help make sure your kids are happy during their session and you can walk away feeling like you got your money's worth!
#1: Limit Guests and Noisy Toys
It's so easy for a kiddo to become overstimulated - specifically younger ones - and this typically leads them to feel overwhelmed and have a meltdown. My best advice, especially for studio sessions? Leave most of the noise-making toys at home and limit the number of guests at your session. Having a lot of people waving, talking, and playing music in front of you can be overwhelming for a young baby and also distracts them from looking at the camera, so let's keep it calm and easygoing! I will work to get their attention to give you the best photos of your babies possible!
#2: Full Tummies
The LAST thing we need is a "hangry" child, so be sure to feed them before you come! Either a full meal or a snack - make sure they've had some food in their bellies for the best possible smiles. If they aren't hungry, bring some snacks and a water or juice in a favorite cup that are easy to pack. We can take a break during the session so they can snack and relax.
#3: Bribery: Save It For After!
As a mom of four myself, I am not above bribing my kids for smiles - including my kids that come in for a photo session! I usually always have small suckers, SweetTarts candies, peppermints, or stickers for kiddos. BUT - these kiddos are smart! I've seen so many parents give the reward before the child has their photos done, and every single time the kiddo decides they will NOT be taking photos. Every. Single. Time.
If the parents are ok with it, I will show the child the reward (candy or sticker) and tell them they can have it as soon as we are done. I'll hold it in my hand next to my lens the entire time I'm taking photos so they're more likely to look at the camera, reminding them that they're doing a great job and that they're reward is right there in my hand. Once they're done, they'll get a high five, a "thank you" and their reward to enjoy! Please note: this technique works best for children two years old and older. For older kids, a bribe of ice cream or dinner at a favorite place after the session works wonders!
#4: Set Expectations
Tip #3 was geared more towards younger kids, but this one is perfect for the older ones (ages 4 and older). Communicate with your kiddos before the session. Let them know where you're going, that they get to come play with one of your friends (me!) and take beautiful photos. Show them my photo so they don't feel like I'm a complete stranger, and tell them we will have a great time together!
If they're a little older, tell them what you expect of them; for example, tell your 8-year-old that you expect them to listen to directions, smile and interact with the younger children. Sometimes kiddos just need to be told what you need them to do!
#5: Consider Nap Schedules and Meal Times When Scheduling
Kiddos of all ages strive when there's a good routine that they know and can rely on, so let's keep that in mind when scheduling your session! If you realize after the fact that you've accidentally scheduled your baby's first birthday session during their regular nap time - no worries! Just shoot me an email and we can reschedule! If keeping to baby's schedule will help get the best possible photos, we absolutely will schedule that session for a time when baby is normally happy and awake!
#6: Let Them Be
Most times, the best photos are not the posed, "say cheese and sit up straight" photos. No, most times the best photos are candid, real life moments. The belly laughs, the twirling dresses, digging in the dirt, running through a sprinkler or just stopping to smell the flowers. Children are amazing at appreciating the world and it's beauty, and I love capturing those moments.
My best advice to moms and dads? Relax and let them be. Let them explore and learn about their surroundings. Let them warm up to the location, to me and to the sights and sounds around them and know that I am capturing the little moments between the things that are happening.
And there you have it, folks. My top tips for a successful photo session involving kiddos. I truly hope this post helps you prepare for your session, whether it's with me or another photographer. For more information about booking, availability and pricing information, please check out my website at www.photobyashleigh.com.