Preparing for Family Photos & Films

  • Jul 23, 2019

Preparing for Family Photos

Mindset for Less Stress

You are amazing and your life if worth documenting. I passionately believe this. You may not feel this way preparing for family photos.

The quick answer to having less stress during your photos or film is to have fun and be yourself. But, easier said than done. It can feel like a huge burden!

You pick outfits for all (including your husband if you want to coordinate) on top of getting yourself ready. Also, you make sure the kids look polished, have bribes ready to pay out and the list goes on!

With a few simple mindset shifts, you can help ensure it’s a less-stress experience for all.

Preparing for family photos. Image of mother and three kids.
3 Tips to Less Stress During Family Photos

1. Get on Board

Start with the most grumpy of all, your husband. Not all men hate getting photos done but in my experience, the vast majority tip to dislike.

First, acknowledge that you’re aware it’s not high on his list. Ask him to do it for you. Express, in your nicest tone, how much you’ll cherish having something to show the kids down the road.

Remind him the session is a short period of time. Tell him it would mean the world if he could swing his mindset to happy and calm. Promise him you’ll share his disposition and won’t force the kids to do anything.

Next, the children. Give them a few reminders the week of, that you’re going to spend some time together on the date of your session.  While a photographer is there, they’ll snuggle and run and play together as a family and their job is to have fun.

Make it a game by telling them you’ll be counting the number of smiles or times they listen on the first try.

It doesn’t hurt to have some bribes ready. I’m not encouraging bribing always but we all know it works. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the zoo. I’ve witnessed one Skittle turn entire sessions around. If we don’t need them, we won’t use them.

2. Follow Through

All those tips above? They apply to you too, Mama! Don’t forget to follow through on mindset shifts, promises and expectations.

Speaking of expectations, throw them out the window. Avoid having expectations for how you feel the session should go. This only sets you up for disappointment, should a tantrum be thrown or a change of plans occur.

Instead, during your session, show your family’s love as much as possible.

Tell your husband ahead of time it’s ok to tickle or wrestle with the kids and to kiss you when he feels like it. You can have conversations, look into your kids’ eyes or sing a favorite song.  THIS is where the magic lies!

Remember others, especially children, feed off your mood so if you’re feeling stressed, so will they.  Take a deep breath and know it’ll be alright! Trust that I, or your photographer, will take the lead.

3. Shower with Gratitude

Understand that this was out of your husband’s comfort zone and genuinely thank him for hearing your heart and acting on it. Thank your children to showing up with smiles.

If it didn’t go well, don’t be discouraged. The camera sees moments you don’t and it’s very likely more usable shots were captured than you think.

Plan a favorite family activity as a bonus to keep the bonding progressing through the day.

And don’t forget to reward yourself, mamas, for the hard work you put in preparing, showing up with joy and following through on promises. Mani/pedi, anyone?

For more on preparing for family photos, get your hands on Six Tips to Authentic Family Photos and Films.


A Few Practical Tips:

  • Plan to arrive 10 minutes early. This will alleviate extra stress should you run into traffic or take a wrong turn.
  • If you child is young and still naps, be sure they are well rested.
  • Bring extra diapers, wipes and an extra outfit if you have a baby. Blowouts can happen at any time (it’s happened at a session in the past!).
  • A pacifier, favorite toy or comfort stuffy can be helpful for a shy toddler/young child.
  • No matter how short your session, always bring a snack. A hungry tummy never leads to cooperation and smiles!
  • For the older kids, letting them bring one favorite toy or item to have a photo with can go a long way in getting the poses you want sans-toy.
  • Chapped lips, boogers and food on a face are difficult to edit. Bring wipes to clean faces before photos begin.
  • Temporary tattoos, marker and the like are fun, but don’t make for great additions to your photos.
  • If a child is putting up a fuss about wearing a certain thing or bringing a certain item, let them. But also bring the outfit you’d like them to wear. I’m great at negotiation and usually a couple of photos in the kid’s cherished garb will satisfy before they change.


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