From years of experience photographing children, I’ve learned that we just need to let kids be kids as we get started. As a mom of two young boys of my own, I can relate to the embarrassment and anxiety of children misbehaving in public and am not here to judge anyone as a parent. However, photo sessions should be a fun experience for everyone involved, and that starts with positive vibes from parents. Kids will usually feel the need to laugh if adults are laughing. When you get frustrated with your child not smiling or any other problems that may arise, I strongly encourage you to hold back any negativity. Children will become more relaxed with less pressure. Don’t be afraid to use bribes. Trust me, it works. Whether it’s a small new toy, a trip to the ice cream shop, or even some fun activity you were already planning, sometimes kids just need a little extra motivation.
When taking family photos it is a natural response to turn to your child and tell them to smile, or point toward the camera in hopes they will listen, but it is important that everyone in the picture focuses on themselves and looks at the camera (unless directed). I have learned many tricks to get your little ones to look at the camera and (hopefully) smile. Young children especially can get overstimulated, so it works best if you let the photographer get their attention. Believe it or not, it is often an adult who is looking away from the camera the moment the seemingly uncooperative child is picture perfect. If there is anyone coming to your photo session who gets uncomfortable with kids misbehaving, please encourage them to hold back and focus on their own smiles and the camera, and let me worry about the kids!
The most important thing is to make your photo shoot a fun experience. Don’t think of it as a means to an end. You can make silly faces, tell jokes, run races and laugh a lot to make it an enjoyable time in itself. This can start days ahead of time by talking about it with your child as a fun experience to be excited about.