My tips for success: preparing your kids for family photos. Whether your having family portraits done by me here in the Ramstein area or beyond, there are a few things you can do to help set your kiddos up for success.
1. Talk about me!
The first thing you can do when preparing your kids for family photos is to talk about it. Tell your kiddos what’s coming up and how excited you are about it. Perhaps you could say something along the lines of “Hey, guess what guys? Later this week we’re going to meet my friend Jenn. She’s pretty fun and I usually laugh a lot when she’s around. She’ll be taking some pictures of us.” If dad’s not as excited as you, no worries, just ask him to refrain from transmitting that bah-humbug feeling in front of the kiddos. Depending on the age of your littles, they might ask what you’re going to do when you meet Jenn, your new friend. You can tell them we’re going to play games, hang out, go for a walk, and daddy might even have to kiss mommy! If possible, try and bring up my name and pictures a couple days in advance and multiple times a day. Let them mull around on the idea and slowly warm up to it. Finally, it’s perfectly normal for everyone to be a bit shy and nervous for the first ten minutes or so of a session. It’s not a problem. In fact, this is when I usually do the more formal portraits of the session; it gets them outta the way so we can move on to fun stuff and allows everyone to warm up a bit 🙂
Please don’t expect perfection. I won’t either, I promise. A second thing you can do when preparing your kids for family photos is to let them know how important this is to you. Equate the session to something they love: “You know how much you enjoy playing Minecraft? Well, this is is Mommy’s version of Minecraft.”
I know portraits can be stressful. Not everyone wants to be there, you’re paying for the time, and you, momma, just want awesome pictures. Just remember, those awesome images come naturally, when everyone’s relaxed. That starts with you, mom. The kids are going to act up or wanna do their own thing and that’s okay. I’ll redirect them, move myself in a different direction, or capture their magic as it unfolds. Tensing up, scolding them to “just stand there and look like you love each other,” or, even worse, “if you don’t get a better attitude then you are NOT getting doughnuts later,” creates such a negative atmosphere. (PS: I’m not judging you! I totally do this with my own kids in everyday life. Ugh.) However, it’s hard to pull them out of this tailspin once it’s been started. We’ll end up with fake smiles and miss out on all the beautiful, maybe slightly naughty, in between moments – and those are the beautiful ones.
3. Bribes, yup, do it.
When all else fails, bribe them. You aren’t the first family to do it at a session and you certainly won’t be the last. There’s the standard, “If we listen to Ms Jenn and have some fun with her then we can all go for ice cream afterwards!” To level up, have a secret stash ready to go. Bring their favorite treat, a cherry flavored dumdum, gummy bears, etc, and hand it to me at the beginning of the session. (Pro Tip: avoid candies that will stain their lips blue) Sometimes we just need something to distract them from their full on impeding meltdown. By giving me the secret stash and allowing me to give it to the kiddos it gives me a little control and authority in the situation. Plus, I’m not the mom which is always a huge factor ;). Bribes during sessions are definitely okay in my book!
I hope these three tips on preparing your kids for family photos help you get ready for your session and feel good about it. Most of all though, relax mommas. At the end of the day, we’re all here to love on each other and capture your beautiful moments. And we’ll do just that. Meltdowns, temper tantrums, pouty faces are all part of life. It’s okay.
Or, view the family portrait gallery here
What others may see as ordinary, I see as your extraordinary.