“Our kids more energetic than most – what if they spoil the photos?” Most parents of worry about this and it’s one of the reasons I prefer photographing little ones outside – where they can run around and be themselves. But as a photographer and mum to two little angels (pictured), I’ve tried and tested lots of things over the years and have found that these 9 tips will help you survive a photo shoot with young children!
1. Time it well
Arrange the photo session around your children’s sleep and feeding schedule to ensure they’re at their best. If you try to squeeze a session in before a nap or meal, you’ll end up with grumpy little ones. Well rested and well fed kids are happier and more cooperative.
2. Organise something fun to wear
Professional photos aren’t something we have done every day so make sure you prepare your child’s outfits in advance. Do some extra styling with your child’s hair or incorporate fun props like hats, glasses or scarves. Let them be involved with choosing the outfit if they insist. The phrase ‘pick your battles’ springs to mind.
3. Book an outdoor shoot
Studio shoots can be stressful for parents trying to get their children to cooperate in an unfamiliar setting. Kids LOVE running around in an outdoor shoot, they get to have fun and be themselves. This fun approach will guarantee a relaxed atmosphere resulting in genuine smiles and real personalities coming through in the photos. Plus you get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors for an hour or two.
4. Bring a prop they can interact with
Props are fantastic for keeping children enteratained and for creating variety in the images. Bubbles work really well for little ones as do scooters, and fave soft toys. Bikes, footballs and hoola hoops are great for slightly older children.
5. Don't talk too much about the photo session in advance
While picture day can be exciting, kids can get worked up with the anticipation of a big event. Mention it once or twice so they are prepared and then leave it until the day of the session. When picture day arrives, remember that photos are fun and that it’s not a huge production they need to be nervous about.
6. Don't ask your child to practice their 'smile' for the camera
Children have a way of ‘smiling’ for the camera which isn’t really ‘smiling’. My aim is to encourage interaction between family members on the day so that your child expresses her/himself naturally and then capture that.
7. Be on time or arrive early
This will ensure you have a few minutes for your children to get comfortable with me. This is helpful for adults too as it’s just as important for you to have some time to connect with me before before jumping in front of their lens.
8. Reward them for cooperative behaviour
Offer your child a reward for behaving cooperatively at the photo shoot. It’s also an idea to have incentives for the duration of the shoot like snacks or sweets to help them stay motivated. Jelly sweets are particularly good; they don’t make a mess so we won’t have to stop shooting to wipe up crumbs or spills.
But most importantly:
9. Remember to enjoy the shoot
Natural smiles are the result of a good time. Enjoy the time spent capturing the moments and smiles of your family. The resulting photos are what you will look back on and enjoy!
Paula is a Photography Institute graduate & owner / photographer at Paula Deegan Photography since 2014. Paula creates beautiful, emotive, creative photography for families and professionals across Surrey & South West London.