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4 Pro-Tips for a great family session with toddlers and little ones.

We've all been there - You're so excited to have professional photos done before another year goes by, but then doubt creeps in as you think, "What if my kids don't behave?"

"Knowing my toddler, he or she will likely have an epic meltdown, and I'll leave wondering why in the world I invested all of that time, money, and energy on photos of my kids with tears streaming down their faces!"

I hear you. That's why I want to offer some helpful tips that I've learned over the years to make sure your session goes smoothly, and to ensure you come away with photos that you'll not only treasure for years to come, but that you'll want to hang all over your walls, and share with everyone you know!

1 - Prepare the kids ahead of time

Start prepping your kids on the days leading up to the session for what is about to happen.

That might look like telling them that one of your friends (that's me!) is going to come and hang out and take some pictures of us while we enjoy some time family together! You know what it is your kids need to hear to make them more comfortable.

You'll want to start prepping your kids a couple days in advance for what's coming by telling them about it and getting them excited for it. You might even consider doing a quick "practice" round in your backyard if you have a DSLR hanging around the house so they can get used to the camera.

The next somewhat obvious pro-tip is making sure your kiddos have had their naps that day, and a good night of sleep the evening before. It's a good idea to give them a hearty early dinner beforehand since most of my outdoor sessions take place during golden hour or right before sunset.

In the shot above, we started by letting this little one explore the pine cones that were scattered along this park path. Two it a tricky age, as they are on the move, but trust me, we will get the shot!

In the photo below, we asked this little lady to show us how many flowers she could count on this bush in the garden.... The resulting photos were simply precious!

2 - Bring an activity they love, and let them play

This is probably my #1 Pro-tip. Whether it's practicing their silly faces, baking banana bread at your kitchen counter, practicing cartwheels, or having dad swing the kiddos above his head, it's always a good idea to have a few ideas of things the kids love ready to keep them engaged and occupied during the session.

Certainly we can make sure to get that shot of everyone looking at the camera for grandma, but the majority of time during my sessions is spent capturing authentic connection and real moments. I will prompt you and guide you every step of the way to help you feel more comfortable and less awkward in front of the camera to get those beautiful candid photos we all love.

Activity or "game" ideas:

- a ball or favorite toy

- a bubble wand (if you want to add a bit of fun)

- a blanket (having the kids run under it like a bridge or swing in it can be fun)

- holding hands and skipping in a circle

- peek-a-boo

- putting kiddos up on dad's shoulders

This little man was all about his cars and trucks. Above, we took a few minutes to ask him to share about some of the mechanics of his ladder truck with his dad. It never ceases to amaze me how much kids know about what they are into at that age!

3 - Be affectionate

This one is HUGE! Kids LOVE the hugs, kisses, cuddles, tickling toes, bunny sniffs... you have your family quirks and inside jokes, and this is the time to use them! Some of the best images are captured when I ask you all to cuddle in close. It may feel awkward, but it looks SO good when everyone is connected.

4 - Find an experienced photographer you can trust

As a former NYC nanny and Disney princess (*cough cough* friends with Rapunzel, Belle, and Cinderella), I have a knack for entering the world of small children, and as the mother of my own child, I'm equipped to handle all sorts of situations.

While generally speaking behavior isn't an issue with my clients, I will say that in the few instances where there has been a meltdown, my clients have remarked on how impressed they have been with what I was able to capture with my lens (even when for half of the time the child ran in the opposite direction) This is why games and play work much better than "come stand here now and look this way and say cheese."

I want your kids to be themselves - yes even if they get a little wild and... energetic. The more you can release control and the more you can let them get that energy out, the less likely they will be to have a meltdown. I'm much more likely to be able to capture that grin between those monster stinky butt faces they make, thank if they are feeling pressured to stand still and smile.

This isn't the time for perfect behavior - it's the time for letting them explore, and continuing to present new fun ideas to keep them engaged. I know it can feel like extra effort on the part of the parents, but I promise, it will be worth it!

Ready to Book your Family Session this season?

Click here to schedule a 15 minute call and we'll get your date on the calendar!


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