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Preparing Your Kids For a Photo Shoot

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Let's be real, we've all been there... You plan a fun day with your family, get the kids all ready, and get to your location. Suddenly the baby is screaming for a new diaper, the toddler is melting down because you threw away the sucker that they were eating three weeks ago, and your adolescent child decided that they're hitting teen years early and are now too cool to be there or have any fun.

It's a common trait in small humans to choose the worst times to act out. We know that this is the last thing you want after you've spent all this time choosing outfits, paid all this money, and spent all morning getting ready for this photoshoot. So, here are some tips that we've found that are helpful in offsetting any potential drama on shoot day.

1. Talk about what's going to happen beforehand

Spend the week or so before the shoot discussing what will be happening, and getting them excited. Plan some fun poses, let them give you some ideas, and maybe even let them be a part of choosing their outfit and hairstyle. Don't put too much pressure on them to be perfect, but do warn them about keeping their clothes and faces mess-free for the shoot.

Another important thing is to tell them about the photographer and the big camera that they will be using. Sometimes, if caught off guard, the big cameras that we use can be intimidating for smaller children, especially with a stranger waving it in front of them.

All in all, keep it positive and get everyone pumped for shoot day!

2. Take care of all needs before and during the shoot

Make sure everyone is fed and well-rested before the shoot. Book a time soon after regular nap times, bring snacks and do whatever you need. My favorite trick is to bring a snack, and a (non-messy) drink to sneak in between poses. My favorite snack options:

Good snack options:


Fruit snacks

Pretzel sticks

Graham crackers

String cheese

Bad snack options:




Ice cream

Colorful juices or chocolate milk

3. Choose clothes they can move in

It's true that family shoots always come with the usual posed and planned group shots and nice, clean portraits... However, much of a family photoshoot, especially with younger children, involves movement, tossing, play, and even running. Some of the best shots and most genuine smiles come from the more free and more playful parts of the session. So, be sure that the clothing, and especially the shoes, look nice, but still lend to being able to feel free and comfortable enough to jump and wiggle a little.

4. Bring backup clothing

It's no secret that accidents happen. Whether it's a diaper blowout, a grass stain, a fall that causes a ripped knee... Kids are prone to messing up their clothes. Instead of letting this become a stress on your day, use it as an opportunity to mix it up and get two outfits out of the deal!

5. Don't take it too seriously

Of course, when you are paying professional prices for your photos, and you have spent all morning getting everyone looking their best, it's very natural to want everyone to be prim and proper to ensure that everything goes smoothly and your pictures turn out as nice as possible. But here is the thing... Imperfect is okay. When you let the situation become looser and relaxed, that is when we're able to capture everyone's real personality. Remember, we are here to capture the love and the memories. Take a deep breath and let them shine!

6. Don't be afraid to bribe

One of the best tools I've seen (and used, to be honest) is the bribe. "If you guys are good during this shoot, we'll get ice cream after!" Works like a charm. But remember, give them room to be imperfect as well. It can be a big and overwhelming thing for a kid to have to pose for a camera and some kids handle it better than others. So maybe make it "If you guys try to have fun during this shoot, we'll get ice cream after!" That feels more reasonable.

Need tips on dressing your family for your photoshoot? Check out my blog:

7 Tips For Dressing Your Family For A Photo Shoot

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