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6 Tips for Family Portraits & Kids

I hear it all the time… “My kids are wild, there is no way we can get photos done” or “I don’t think my kids will sit still long enough for you to get a good shot, is it still worth it?” Mama, you are not alone! If there is one thing you learn real quick as a parent… or really just anyone who spends time with children… it is that they don’t always cooperate.

As a mom of two VERY strong-willed girls, I know this to be true and sometimes the break down is unavoidable. BUT after 12 years of photographing small children, I have honed in on some tips for success during your family portrait session with small kiddos.

Tip 1: Let Them Sleep

The reason I schedule my sessions for late evening is to capture that creamy gold light that makes everything beautiful. The downside is that little ones are usually just about ready for bedtime. And as every parent knows, they turn into monsters when they are tired. So tip number one is to plan ahead and don’t schedule a camping trip for the night before your session… Do everything you can the day of to make sure your littles get a good nap. Spend the morning at the park really wearing them out, and lay them down later than normal so they take a solid nap and are rested for your evening session.

Tip 2: Relax

Kids feed off our stress. Seriously, they are like little emotion sponges. So plan ahead, get ready extra early to avoid rushing and inevitably stressing out. If you are stressed your kids will be too and that’s a recipe for a meltdown.

Tip 3: Hungry Kids are Hangry Kids

Make sure you give them a snack before they get dressed for your session. Just like the Snickers commercials, they aren’t themselves when they’re hungry! Also, be sure to pack some snacks to bring along that aren’t too messy (goldfish crackers & fruit snacks are my go to’s.) If your baby still uses a bottle, make sure you bring it. The beautiful thing about my full sessions is that it gives us time for things like a snack break. During this session, Wren went full melt down and Dad had to rush back home (just down the street luckily) to grab a bottle because she needed some extra comfort. Tt was enough to perk her up so that we could finish their session. So plan ahead and bring your emergency supplies just in case!!

Tip 4: Be Ready to Play

The best way to get your kiddos out of a funk is to let them be kids. During this session, we pulled out my phone and had a dance party in the middle of the woods to some Katy Perry (a favorite of the girls) and it was just the thing to get some smiles out of little miss. Music has amazing power to change the mood so have a Pandora station or iTunes ready to jam. There’s a reason they blast party music at fashion photo shoots!!

Tip 5: Don’t Be Afraid of Bribery

Have you ever met the parents who swear up and down they would never and have never bribed their children? You know the ones… We all know they’re lying. We ALL do it in some form or another. And I’m not here to tell you how to parent, we all do it differently and that is what makes the world a beautiful place. But let’s be real… we do what we have to do to survive the rat race that is parenting. So I highly encourage bribery, BUT at the right time during a session. A common one is going for ice cream after the session. It is most effective in the last 15 minutes of a session, any earlier and we lose focus before the end. Kids don’t have the best attention span and if you dangle that carrot prematurely we will lose control of the session pretty quick. So a good rule of thumb is to wait until I give you the signal to drop the bribery bomb!

Tip 6: Trust your Photographer

I will probably ask you to do some stuff you aren’t expecting. We might play tag, have a dance party, talk about whose farts smell the worst or who snores the loudest. Whatever it takes to get your kiddos engaged is what I’m going to do, even if that means me jumping around like a chimpanzee. We have tickle fights and play Simon Says. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve learned a thing or two about what will look good on camera and what won’t. So don’t be afraid to look silly. I’m not judging and I only deliver the best of the best for your final gallery!

Kind Words

“Emily is incredible. She was able to capture my crazy little two year old in the sweetest moments. I couldn’t be happier with our photoshoot. <33 Seriously so so so impressed with her skills. I LOVE YOU. She came prepared with props/cookies for the kids to pay attention, and was totally a dream to work with. We are going to do this again soon!” – Megan

“I can’t thank you enough. These pictures are so much better than I could ever imagine. Our kids were so crazy that night but you worked miracles. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” – Gwendolyn

“Emily did an amazing job especially with my kiddos. Trying to get pictures done with a two year old and an 8 month old is no easy task. Emily was so relaxed and go with the flow. She turned what is normally a super stressful experience for us into a really good experience. I have no doubt we will use her for future family photos!!” – Tia

Nothing about having kids is easy, getting portraits done is no exception, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. I love photographing families because each one is different and beautiful and crazy and deserves to be captured. Our kiddos grow so quick and change every day. Don’t wait to capture this special time in your family’s life <3

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