How to Prepare Your Children For A Family Photo ShootWorcester Park Family Photography

You’ve booked your family photo shoot, and you can’t wait to have some gorgeous new photographs of you all together. Photographs that capture your children’s personalities, where they’re smiling, and actually looking at the camera!

Then you start to wonder what happens if they aren’t their best selves on the day. What happens if the cheekiest parts of their personalities start to come out? What happens if they don’t cooperate with the photographer?

Rest assured that you’re not alone in having these concerns. In fact, as a mum and a family photographer I fully expect your children to ‘have a moment’ on a shoot, especially if they’re of infant school age or younger. Children of this age don’t usually grasp the value of having professional photographs taken, how precious these pictures will be to them in years to come, and so it can be difficult for them to understand why they have to have them taken. 

However, I’m sure that you will want to ensure that your children are prepared to have the best shoot possible. Based on my experience of seeing other families prepare their children for a photo shoot, there are certain things that you can do to ensure your children are at their best. In this article I’ll share my tips for:

  • Preparing babies and toddlers
  • Preparing older children
  • Preparing for an outdoor photo shoot
  • Preparing for a photo shoot at your home
  • What to do if your child has a ‘moment’ during the shoot

I hope that it helps you to feel confident and well-prepared for a great family photo shoot.

lavender mini sessions banstead surrey

Preparing Babies and Toddlers For A Photo Shoot

The most important thing for babies and toddlers is to make sure that they are well fed and well rested before the session. My sessions usually happen in the morning, when young children tend to be more relaxed, and it’s worth taking your baby or toddler’s usual routines into consideration. Scheduling the shoot during a regular nap time probably won’t give you the best results.

If for some reason the session has to overlap with a regular nap or meal time, try to bring it forward to just before your shoot so that your child is well rested and well fed beforehand.

If you’re worried about your child becoming hungry or thirsty during the shoot do bring drinks and snacks along to the shoot. If you can see that your child needs a break then just ask the photographer if you can pause for a moment whilst they have their food or drink.

prepare children family photos

Preparing Older Children For A Family Photo Shoot

If you have older children I recommend doing some work beforehand to ‘frame’ the shoot as a positive experience. Talk to them about the session in a positive way in the days leading up to it.

Tell them the photographer’s name, and show them a photo of the photographer (if you’re having a shoot with me you can show them the photograph on my Facebook page or the ones on my about page.) Let them know how long the shoot will take, and what will happen whilst they’re there.

It can be helpful to discuss a treat that will happen after the shoot; I often see parents remind their children about the treat during a shoot, and it’s a great way to keep them focussed. Some of the treats I’ve heard about over the last six months include a Kinder Egg, watching Frozen, going to see Santa and lunch at a favourite cafe.

Just as with babies and toddlers, make sure your children are not hungry. If the shoot is going to overlap with a regular mealtime for them you might want to offer them a snack beforehand. It’s a good idea to bring some snacks and drinks with you to the shoot too in case your little one gets hungry whilst you’re there.

A family photo shoot outdoors in Richmond Upon ThamesPreparing Children For An Outdoor Photo Shoot

If you have an outdoor shoot planned, it’s helpful to arrive a little earlier than our meeting time so that your children can have a run around, relax, and are in good spirits when the shoot gets started.

This will set the session up positively, and gives them a chance to let off some steam before the shoot, rather than if you’ve just got out of the car and rushed to meet your photographer.

Preparing Children For A Photo Shoot At Home

One of the most difficult things for a child when they’re having a photo shoot at home can be seeing all of their toys, but not being able to play with them.

Before the shoot I recommend putting everything that you don’t want to be in the photographs away; out of sight usually means out of mind, and will help your child to stay focussed on what they’re doing. Of course there may be certain toys that you’d love to include in the shoot, and if that’s the case it’s no problem to keep those out.

The same goes for things like TV remotes, iPads and games consoles; if your child is likely to become distracted by them during the shoot it can be helpful to put them out of sight.

what to wear for outdoor family pictures

What To Do If Your Child ‘Has A Moment’ During The Shoot

As I mentioned at the start of this article, if your children are aged 7 or under, it’s probably quite likely that they’ll have a moment on the shoot. I’m expecting it to happen at some point, and I’m sure that most other experienced photographers are too. So if it does happen please don’t worry! I actually find that during mischievous moments I can capture lots of personality.

If it does happen and your child has a wobble, I’m sure you’ll want to step in and try to calm your child down. However, it can sometimes be more helpful for you (and other siblings) to step out of your child’s sight; without an audience children are often a lot more focussed, particularly around people they don’t know so well!

If you have a young baby or toddler then they may need a little more support from you to stay focussed. It can be helpful for you to help the photographer to keep your little one’s attention. This could be anything from singing a favourite song, or giving the photographer one of their favourite teddies to hold. Just ask the photographer what they need you to do.


Over to You

I know that investing in professional photographs of your family is something you’ve considered carefully; no doubt you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure that your children are on good form, and captured at their best.

It’s only natural for any parent to worry about their children having a wobble during a shoot, and as a mum I understand this completely. I hope that this article has given you the reassurance that if this does happen it is not something to worry about. In fact, it’s very common!

I’d love to hear how you get on putting these tips to use before your family photo shoot. Do let me know how it went, and if you have any other tips that I can share with other parents. You can send me a message here, or let me know in the comments below.


Related Articles

You may also find these articles helpful as you plan your family photo shoot:

Picture of Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
error: This content is protected by copyright!