5 Secrets to a Great Family Session

It’s easy to look at some of my family sessions and wonder how in the world everyone looks so happy and perfect and well-behaved at the session!  What is the magic?  How does this perfect world exist?

I’m here to demystify the family session and give some good practical advise on how to be successful for your session!

1. I’m not showing you everything.  With fast moving kids, photos can sometimes be a numbers game and I’m shooting constantly, knowing sometimes it’s the split second "in-between" that give us “the shot”.  Out of an entire session, there is probably about 20% usable shots out.   I’m not showing you the constant breaks we are taking, the random temper tantrums, the child behind me that decided not to cooperate, the accidents, spit ups, etc.  It ALL happens.  EVERY time.  But the beauty of photography is being able to paint the perfect picture after the fact with culling down to those gems.  I even have clients ask me "can we keep that one?" knowing it's still important to capture and remember the reality and challenges of a particular age!

2. Meet the kids at their level.  I think anyone who has spent 5 minutes with a kid knows it’s very difficult to “force” them to sit still and smile on command.  It’s just not going to happen.  So don’t expect it and don’t force it.  Inside go with the flow.  If the kids want to run? Let’s do some candid action shots.  If they are feeling clingy to mom or dad?  Let’s get some cuddle shots?  Need a snack break?  No problem.  Trying to force anything will just result in tears and longer recoop time.  So let the kids be how they are and you’ll be surprised at what great photos we can get!

 

3. Play games.  If I can turn something into a game, it all of sudden takes the focus off of “boring photo shoot”.  Walking photos can turn into “freeze” walking, sitting on a blanket can be a tickle fight, and airplane can be a fun and exciting game for the really little ones.  Having a toy or a book to interact with often helps them relax into being themselves.

 

4. Prepare and Reward.  Kids respond well to expectations and rewards.  Give the kids a pep talk ahead of time so they know exactly what they are getting into.  Even the young ones can get what you are saying to a degree.  For example “Jacob- we are going to spend an hour with Miss Ginny and she going to take some photos for us.  We’ll play some games and run around, but there will be times she asks you to sit nicely and smile.  It’s important that you are a good listener today and listen to everything we ask of you. Do you think you can do that for us?”  And if you are so included to provide a reward..”and if you do a great job, we’re going to get donuts afterwards [or get a lollipop, or whatever reward works for your kids!]

 

5. Relax.  Kids can easily pick up on the tension of their parents.  If you are tense and anxious, they will be too.  The goal is to have fun, enjoy the time together and not be too stressed about the “perfect shot” and more about capturing the natural interaction of your family at this unique stage.  Usually my favorite photos are the ones we could never plan for but just happen naturally.  It will always change, so enjoy and embrace the stage as it is now, as it will only continue to evolve and change!