The Best Three Tips to Prep Kids for a Photo Shoot

First, you need to know how excited I am to meet you and your sweet kiddos!  I adore children and I will love yours; I promise!  I have so many games to play and tricks up my sleeve to engage kids, help them feel comfortable and show their authentic selves, and have so much fun at their session!

Why Preparation Is So Important

Having an amazing session doesn’t just start with meeting me for our session, though.  For most kids, it should begin at least one week before your session. Getting your kids ready for a photo shoot is really pretty simple: below are the best three tips to help kids feel safe, comfortable, and confident.

But mostly? Follow the same rules of preparing your kiddo for any new experience!  The key: PRE-pare. Get them used to the idea of our session ahead of time.  There are SO MANY ways you can help your children be ready to embrace this new adventure, emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Let’s take those one at a time.  

Prepare Them Emotionally

A photo session can be a big deal for a child.  One of the best ways you can prepare your kiddo emotionally is to help them by not overloading them on the day of the session.  Schedule your session when you don’t have a big game or birthday party that day.  Be sure that there is quiet time in their day. Emotional overload can really affect your session. Let your photo session be THE BIG EVENT of the day.

Prepare Them Physically

If your kiddo is comfortable in their body and clothing, they are much more likely to relax and have a great time. This has to do with the weather for sure, but other aspects as well.  If it’s cold out, I can’t emphasize enough that a cold kid is an unhappy kid (maybe even a screaming kid). Layer up underneath, especially, and bring a coat for in between shots.

Also, be sure that their clothing fits and that your child is willing (if not excited!) to wear it. If your child has texture preferences, prevent a meltdown at your session by making sure that the fabric and tags won’t bother them.  Do their new shoes fit, and will they be comfortable to wear? Have your kiddo wear them around the house to break them in, especially if you want to keep them looking nice before your session.

And, since kids’ emotions are so tied to meals, be sure that they eat and use the bathroom before your session.  For babies, honestly, we will just go with the flow.  You can feed them right before our session (get to the spot early, and just give them what they need in the car if you are a bit of a drive away).  But babies need to eat often (nursing photos are absolute treasures!), and they’ll probably need a change during your session.  All of that is to be expected and just part of the plan. We will embrace it.

Prepare Them Mentally

This one is huge, and the most often overlooked. Your kids may be meeting me for the first time at our session! They may be super excited about this new experience. Then again, they may also feel a bit shy and careful about meeting someone new. Starting about a week ahead of time, especially with younger kids, start talking with them about going to meet your old friend Emily who is going to bring her camera along to take a few pictures of you all as a family. Show them my picture and tell them a few things about me (I looooove dogs, I have a little boy, and I am super fun and know some really fun games!). Also, let them know this will be a time when each kid will have each parent’s attention for a special moment together. That we’ll run and play games and explore. That I am going to LOVE getting to know them and hearing what THEY love to do!

Tell me about your cutie before your session—they are always twirling, they love everything about the Cretaceous Period, or their favorite song is “You Are My Sunshine”; that is a massive help to me to be able to meet your kids where they are and know what might be fun for them. Feel free to text me or put some ideas for me in your family survey!

Ultimately, you know your kid best. Help their little brains acclimate to the idea by telling them ahead of time what to expect and what they might find so fun about this special time together.

All that said, you should also know that, with me, even if your kids don’t “behave,” or if they feel shy or cry, I completely understand.  If they almost NEVER have a good day because that’s who they are, it is okay.

Let me say that again. It. Is. Okay. 

You consoling your kiddos and loving them if they fall—that’s just parenthood.  Those can be really tender moments, which, after we make sure that everyone is okay, we will capture. Sometimes it’s just a blip, and the mood will pass. If YOU need a moment, step back and take a breather. Go on a short walk to decompress even, and let me do my thing. There’s plenty of time at a full session with me. But, hey, if your three-year-old puts on a pout—that’s to be expected! Your teenager not having it at all? It’s fine. Know that that’s their age and it’s okay.  Some of my favorite photos are the “grumpy” ones. They are wonderful and sweet and so “that age.” You will treasure even the grumps, and possibly those most of all.

Let’s get some great photos of you and your amazing kiddos, right now, as they are.  They’ll never be this age again!  That may sound like a good thing some days, but these moments are fleeting as we all know.  Hold them close just a little longer just as they are.