Let’s say that you have a toddler, or two, or three and it’s been a while since your last family photography session. You reach out to your photographer, finalize a date, and bam! Your session is now booked! YAY! Right? You should be feeling a sigh of relief but instead maybe you’re breathing a sigh of anxiety? You might be laughing out loud and thinking to yourself. Umm. How in the world am I going to get all of my kid(s), TODDLER(S), to cooperate during this session? What if they act like wild banshees? What if they cry the whole time? What if they don’t smile? What if all of this is a waste of time and money?
Well, I am here to tell you that you seriously don’t need to worry about your kids' behavior. I get asked ALL THE TIME, “Did my kid(s) do okay? Do you think we got any good pictures? All I want is one good photo!” The list of insecurities goes on and on. So, my answer for you will always be about the same. I will tell you that they did great! Or they are being who they are and that is what matters! This is the honest truth. I have ZERO expectations when it comes to taking pictures of toddlers. Sure, I always have a “dream plan” when I walk into sessions but let me tell you, the kids are the bosses, not me! At my sessions, I take pride in designing the session around your kid(s) and their happiness, because let’s face it, if your kid(s) are stressed and unhappy, mom is going to be stressed and unhappy, and that is exactly what we don’t want. When you get the message that your gallery is ready, I don’t want your heart to sink thinking, oh my goodness, I’m scared to even look at these. I don’t want you to relive the experience and to focus you back on how stressful this was for you, instead, I want you to be like, WOW, how in the world did she do that! I can’t even believe that we got these! That was so much fun! Look how happy we were! These are the reactions I want my families to have when they receive their gallery back. Family photography sessions, or any session for that matter, should not be a stressor for parents (I’m mainly talking to my moms out there). Too often are we the ones capturing the important moments of our kids lives, and too little are we actually in the images with our family and embracing these short-lived moments happening everyday right before our eyes.
So, what is the whole purpose of this blog post? Well, I am here to tell you, out of all the sessions of awesome families that I have had the privilege of working with here in and around Knoxville, TN, that there are a few ways to help come better prepared to your next family photography session. In this blog I am gifting you a compiled list of five tips and tricks for you parents out there with little ones, so that you can come to your next session and focus on having fun and letting me worry about the rest:)
1.) DON’T SURPRISE THEM! It is so important that you tell your kid(s) that they will be getting their picture taken! Kids are so stinkin’ smart. They will pick up on something’s about to happen anyways so just be honest and prepare them. Regardless if the session is in your home or on location, use this opportunity to get them excited about going somewhere new or showing a new friend around your home. I say this because, we as adults wouldn’t want to walk into something unprepared and expect not to be a little upset or nervous about it because we didn’t know about it beforehand. So just be honest and tell them what is going to happen, such as, “We are going to go to this really fun place to play while our nice new friend takes our picture.” Something along those lines.
2.) ARRIVE EARLY! Yes. I know. This is much easier said than done. As a parent of three under four, I know how hard it is to actually be early or even on-time anywhere, but it is important to arrive early. Being able to make time for traffic or a quick last minute stop to the bathroom is something you need to plan for. Also, being able to arrive early at the chosen location means that you can let your little one do a bit of exploring before the session starts. This makes the transition from car → to new environment → to weird lady with a camera a bit easier.
3.) COME DRESSED! I have been guilty of this myself and have seen it time and time again. Please put the outfit that your kid(s) will be wearing in the photoshoot on before you leave your home! I know this one is difficult because I get it, the car seat has crumbs, the kids are going to want a snack for the ride, etc. The reason this is so important is because when you get to the location, your kid(s) are super excited about seeing this new place that you’ve just gotten to. Then you get them out of their seats and take them to the back of the car to tell them that you have to put different clothes on to take their pictures. They don’t understand the reasoning behind this and usually get frustrated. Having to change them at the location disrupts the flow of staying happy and engaged in this new cool place. HOWEVER, there is an exception to this. If the outfit you’ve chosen is a safety hazard and you feel like it causes them to not be properly harnessed in their car seats, please do not do it! Your child's safety is absolutely the most important so if you feel this applies to you, err on the side of caution and just wait until you arrive at the location.
4.) BRING BRIBES! I don’t know about you, but bribes are my friend. I’m not saying let’s give them a box of M&M’s (although those are my favorite) but instead pack some dry snack foods or candies like cheerios, pretzels, popcorn, fruit snacks, etc. That way if they get hungry on the way or during the session, we won’t have to worry about them making a mess or getting a squeeze pouch all over their outfits, or have chocolate smudges on their clothes or in their teeth. I usually come prepared and have some go-to things ready in my bag, but it’s also good to bring some of your own, especially if your kid(s) have allergies or is picky! Also, please make sure to bring something to drink for them as well! Water is the best since juice can stain if it gets on clothes and milk usually will ruin.
5.) BRING A “LOVIE!” Before you leave your home, have the child pick one thing to bring with them to the session; a toy, stuffed animal, paci, or blanket are some good examples. The purpose is to bring something meaningful to your child. What phase of life are they in? Dinosaurs, baby dolls, the list can go on and on but this phase of their life won’t last forever, so if your child has something special that defines them in their current stage of life, please bring it so that they we can get some pictures to document this special time!
These tips and tricks have been tried and true and I really think that they can help you and your family walk in to your next family photography session with more confidence and less stress!
All images captured by Knoxville family photographer, Hannah Bucklin, owner/photographer of Sweetest Moments Photography servicing Knoxville, TN and the surrounding areas! Sweetest Moments Photography offers a variety of photography services including family photography, maternity, fresh 48, lifestyle newborn, milestone, and custom photography sessions! Learn more about these sessions by clicking here!