The Do’s and Don’ts of Preparing Your Children for Family Photos

So you’ve decided to update the family photo. You’ve done your Pinterest research, called the photographer, penciled in the date and time, and chose the family color palette in clothing. But on the day of your photoshoot, your kids won’t cooperate! Your six your old daughter is crying because she doesn’t want her hair combed and your adventurous toddler just managed to already destroy his new kakis with peanut butter thus ruining the perfect little outfit, family pictures, and the experience that you so hoped, planned, and paid for! Now what?! Well rest assure, here are some tips of the do’s and don’ts to planning and getting the perfect family photo.

1. DO plan your outfits, but keep your family’s comfort in mind.

You want your family to be comfortable on the day of the photoshoot since they may feel a little uncomfortable (at first) in front of the camera. Though, you need to find the right balance of your expectations on creating the look versus what is realistic. For example, you would love for your preschooler son to wear the cutest hat and tie that you found at Target, but would he realistically be happy wearing it? Honestly, it would save you an argument and the frustration on the day if you choose something that is both a compromise to your wants and your child’s wants. Go as far as planning the colors and overall feel of your outfit choices (classic varying shades of blues mixed with kakis and jeans or dressing up with spring colors), but maybe let your child help pick the outfit (as crazy as that sounds). Give him three options and let him choose from say the polo shirt, shorts, or jeans. Kids can be finicky about clothing based on the feeling of it. We’ve all heard, “Mommy, it’s scratchy, the shoes pinch, the pants rub!” By letting your child take part in the planning process, he or she can take pride in their outfit and get excited for the big photoshoot!

2. DON’T yell or try to discipline your children during the photoshoot.

Yep, you heard me! This may sound crazy, but even if your kid is being an absolute stinker (and we all know kids can be), don’t discipline them. The reason being is because while your photographer is taking the photos, it is easier to get your kids to smile if they are in a good mood. If you have spent the time right before the shoot or during fighting with your children to listen, obey, or smile, chances are you won’t be getting those precious expressions you so hoped your photographer would capture. So even if your child deserves the timeout or privileges should be taken away, don’t do it. You can always enforce the punishment after you’re done. If you have a professional taking your photos, he or she will guide your children by playing games or lightening the mood in order to get your kids to comply.

3. DO reward your children during AND after the photoshoot.

We’re not saying that you have to constantly feed your children fish crackers during photo time, but even little words of parental praise goes a long way. If your children are smiling like pros and behaving, tell them! In fact make a big ‘ol deal about it and I’m sure your photographer will too! This will encourage your children to keep up the good work. I mean we like to be told when we’re doing a good job, right? Sure we do! Well, our kids do too and give them points if they’re trying. Afterwards if they’ve behaved, reward them with that ice-cream stop that you talked about or with the new pack of Pokemon cards he or she saw at the store. Whatever your kids loves, reward them with it! It will make the experience that much better and they always remember the times they get rewards. Chances are, if you go back for photos, it will be that much easier of a process for you, your children, and your photographer.

4. DON’T go near the playground before photos!

I repeat do not go near the playground before photos! If your photo location is near or beside a playground, make sure to park in an area where the playground is out of sight. I don’t know how many times we’ve seen parents have to drag and pull their children off the swing sets and playground equipment because it was photo time. Your kids will think it’s punishment and surely not warm up for photos then. Even if they see it while walking over to your designated area, they will beg, plead, and not be excited for picture time. Instead, reward them afterwards with a playground surprise. Not only will this save your sanity, but it deters them from getting their clothes wrinkly and dirty from playground play before it’s time to take photos.

5. DO show your kids examples of what the family photo experience looks like.

Especially if this is your child’s first time getting their photos taken by a professional, aside from the school photos, show them examples online (preferably photos from your photographer’s website, blog, or Instagram feed). Having their photos taken at school and getting photos done with your family is a different experience. Show them happy smiley kids, laughing, hugging, all the works! This will help your child see that having your photos taken isn’t scary and can actually be fun! They see other kids enjoying themselves so they too want to take part in the excitement. Not only does this prepare them emotionally, but it will also help them see what we want from them. It’s their way of studying what the kids are suppose to do during the photoshoot.

Getting you family photos done doesn’t have to be be a painful experience. In fact with the right preparation for you and your family, it can be quite enjoyable. And relax, let you photographer take care of the hard work and follow the lead of the professional that you hired. In the end, you will not only take away an incredible family experience, but amazing photos to boot! 🙂