Are you stressed about family photos? You’re not alone – getting family photos taken ARE stressful! You’re a busy mom with a million things to do but know it’s been a while since you’ve had family photos taken and know there’s no time like the present. Plus, you’d like to be IN the photos instead of the one TAKING the photos. I get it.
So you’ve carved out some time, found a great photographer whose style you love, and even gotten your partner on board. You’ve already invested a lot of time and money in getting photos done. Now you’re stressed about what to wear, and you’re crossing your fingers that your kids will behave and that you won’t hate how you look because you’re uncomfortable in FRONT of the camera. How are you supposed to be chilled out and just live in the moment?
From working with hundreds of families over the years (and been through the process myself), I have a few tips and tricks that will help you.
1. Your kids will misbehave or cry or refuse to do something
It’s okay. I actually expect it to happen. If kids know you want them to sit in a specific spot or do a specific thing, or hold still…….then they want to do the opposite, right? It’s okay. It’s part of what makes their personalities shine, and what makes them unique, and is actually something I want to highlight. I don’t mean celebrate their misbehavior if they aren’t listening to you, but instead, highlight their little unique personalities by making part of the session child-directed. It is MY job as your photographer to get the photos that you’ve seen and love on my IG page. It is MY job to wrangle all that excitement and kid energy into highlighting who they are in your whole crazy, messy, beautiful family dynamic (part of which – ahem – is chaotic). I have so many favorite photos right here on my website with kiddos doing the darndest things – things I would have never thought of that make the photo so much more interesting and unique to them (and your family) by just giving them space to do what they do. So I invite you to leave it to me. I invite you to EXPECT that some uncontrollable kid craziness will happen and the minute you accept it as part of the process, the weight of having perfect children for your session will dissipate, and you and your partner will be able to enjoy the process so much more. I mean, do you really want a PERFECT photo of your child looking perfect, or a realistic yet beautiful photo of them showing who they TRULY are?
2. We will take breaks
Kids need breaks. Dads and partners need breaks. Heck, even I need a break. Breaks are wonderful and give kids a chance to grab a quick snack and chill out. It gives you a chance to take a deep breath and reset, and take a sip of your coffee. It gives Dad a chance to do what he wants to do. I offer plenty of breaks because I love them too and find them oh so useful. I can change out my roll of film, take a drink of water and check my phone. I also LOVE checking out those little gold nuggets of in-between moments where your family has their guard down and is truly being themselves. If I see a truly authentic and beautiful moment, you can bet I’ll try and sneakily capture it.
On this same note, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and a bit of hesitation when moms see that my average session time is 1-2 hours. And you think “that sounds exhausting” or “there is NO WAY my kids will last that long”, but the total time also includes a ton of breaks. Promise. I shoot with patience and purpose and with lots of downtime, which opens everyone up to relax a bit more, being themselves a bit more, and enjoying the process.
3. Enjoy the process
This is the biggest piece of advice I can give you. Our session is less documentation, more collaboration if I’m being perfectly honest. I look to you and your input about what’s important to you, from where your favorite hangout spots are in your home to learning about the uniqueness of each and every child and what your goals for the session are. Then I highlight all of this based on what’s happening in the moment and how I see you and your family. I will direct you and give you feedback to help make the best photo possible and I may see something (like you brushing your daughter’s hair tenderly away from her mouth) and ask you to do it again. It may seem like a weird request. It may seem silly. Enjoy the process! Enjoy your partner. Enjoy your children and all the chaos and crazy personalities, and enjoy the breaks and cuddles, and the smell of their hair. We will make magic together, promise!