It’s that time of the year again. You’ve looked at the beautiful Autumn colors and want to capture your family in the picture perfect image. You book your favorite photographer, buy the perfect outfits, and then open up Google or Pinterest and start searching for ideas and see how amazing all the images look. The day for your session arrives and you’re ready to call it quits 5 minutes in. You had a plan BUT your toddler throws dirt on their baby sibling. Your child doesn’t want to wear shoes. Hates their dress, your hair is puffy, Dad wants to watch the football game and the sun is going down. So, what happened?
Well, it’s simple. You made a plan.
In my experience as a Professional Photographer, sometimes, all the best laid plans aren’t going to go like you planned. Those beautiful Pinterest worthy images are ONE out of most likely 100+ that the photographer took and edited to make it perfect. There are A LOT of factors to think about, especially when working with children of any age, as to how the session will go. Here’s some tips.
1. Plan around Naps, Snack time, and Bedtime.
The hour before sunset; aka The Golden Hour, is the most beautiful time to take photos. You get a golden glow and even sunlight for your images. If you’re very lucky, you get the most beautiful sunset sky. It’s my favorite time of the day to shoot and most requested time for a session. Here’s the thing. While it’s absolutely beautiful, if it’s 5 minutes before your child’s bedtime, it’s just going to be a hot mess. Any way you slice it, your child will be upset and possibly screaming and unhappy the entire time. Same with Nap time and snack/lunch time.
Something I ask all my clients when booking is when is nap time. Most children up to the age of 4-5 years old has those times where they are grumpy, unhappy, and want to sleep. My advice, plan around them. When you sit down with your hired photographer, tell them your personal schedule for your children. I promise you, it’s extremely helpful information. We can plan around those times and figure out when your child(ren) will be happiest and most cooperative to take those photos.
2. Dress them comfortably.
When you’re picking out the perfect matching outfits, think about what your child normally wears. For example, my son wears button-ups quite often. So, when we take photos, that’s what he wears. I started putting them on him at 6 months old so he would grow up wearing them and knowing how they feel on his body. A friend of mine’s son HATES button ups. Will throw a fit and a half if he wears them. He just flat out doesn’t like how they feel. So, when you’re thinking about what will look best think about what they normally wear. Does your child like wearing sweaters? Has your son ever worn a bowtie? Does your daughter keep hats on or hairbows in her hair? It’s easier to plan around these small things then to try to reason with a 2-5 year old as to why they need to be uncomfortable and smile anyways. This goes for shoes as well, which brings me to…
3. Do a clothing test day.
A few days before your session, put your child in their clothing for the photos and keep them in it for a few hours. This is a good way to see if they will be tugging at one thing or another and gets them used to it as well. That way, on the day of the session, they have the chance to remember when they wore it and how it wasn’t that bad a few days ago. This is extremely important when it comes to shoes. If you don’t normally put shoes or socks or even stockings on your children, it’s going to be a lot easier to get them used to it when they are at home.
4. Accept that your child is different from the one on Pinterest.
Now, I know that you already know this. Your child is the best thing since sliced bread and they complete your life in every possible way. You love them uncontrollably. That being said, if your child doesn’t have the sit down and smile personality, don’t expect them to do it. Tell your photographer before hand that your child doesn’t sit and likes to walk around. They don’t like to be held, they like to stand on their own, etc. If your child doesn’t like to hold hands, don’t ask for a hand holding photo. You will most likely be disappointed.
5. Just have fun with your Family and Photographer!
Every session I’ve ever had has been different. Some have been super serious and all business, some have been silly and full of laughter. Some kids sat down and gave me a beautiful smile. Some kids had me chase them around the park. I’ve played “Red Light/Green Light” and “Emily May-I” during sessions and made silly faces during Peek-A-Boo in others. It’s all about just going out and getting genuine emotions in your photos. Don’t stress, don’t worry about what you had pictured as the perfect session, it’s not going to go according to plan 99.9% of the time. Just go out and have fun. Your results will be BEAUTIFUL if you do.
And it makes you feel any better, this is a Christmas Photo with my family a few years ago. In my head, Michael would sit between my husband and I in the cold snow and smile. This is what my plan gave me. Thanks for the Capture, Mom.