Whatever you do, don’t tell them “we’re going to get photos taken”! Not exciting. If possible make it a fun adventure that they will look forward to. If you’re in the “no” or difficult years, consider having a lifestyle shoot with some posed photos quickly added in. You can go to a park, the beach, or even find a beautiful little area near an ice cream or toy shop. Shopping for toys with a new friend who just so happens to have a camera is WAY more fun!
Unfortunately, many kids have either had poor photography experiences, or know enough of “photo time” to associate it with something negative. If they are already in a bad mood before the session even begins, there will be a lot of time spent on trying to get them out of that upset state of mind.
Obviously you’ll want to clean them up but don’t fret if they get a bruise, scratch, or stain their brand new matching shirt. You can either plan ahead and bring a new shirt, or just make sure to hire a photographer who will have other options such as a little touch-up work after the session.
Should this session be in the studio, some of this will be more difficult. Let’s take a moment and cover bribing. As much as bribing ahead of time can work, it also can wind up being a recipe for disaster. Do you want ice cream after this photo session? Smile just these 16 times and you’ll get some. Later. Not now. Keep smiling. Stop pouting, right now. Sadly, after a couple smiles they just might become moody and want something NOW. With that mentioned small toys, snacks, or their favorite items are great during the session and can provide a great distraction from what’s going on.
Be sure that your candy or snack items are small and quick. Anything like a lollipop with take time, and possibly wind up someplace you don’t want it to for the photos. Goldfish, crackers, soft candy, or chewy candy are better choices.
Punishment is a no no. As much as children may need disciplined, a photo session is not the time. A quick way to ruin photos is to scold, spank, or basically act in any manner aggressively towards them. Now they’re angry or crying, and it’s all over with. Either take a 20-30 minute break with a way to turn things upbeat again, or try again another time.
Over directing is also a no no. Should they not be smiling naturally or the “right” way – don’t tell them to smile better. You can try to show them by acting it out in front of them. Or, just be silly and get them to laugh. Even better, throw a crazy uncle behind the camera. Sometimes an extra friend or family member who doesn’t need to be in all of the photos can work miracles.
Now, just be sure to bring anything extra you may need for where you’ll be going. Whether it’s a sippy cup, blankets, towels, sun screen, something that plays music, or shoes. Another idea is to bring little props that can be in the photos. This may be items such as sunglasses, hats, toys, shells, a book, or a basket. (Even better, hire a photographer that has some of these.)
To get the adults ready for the photo session, offer a shot of alcohol and some ear plugs as a last resort. Hehe. Good luck and have fun!