Preparing for a family session, particularly with little ones, often starts long before the actual time of the shoot! I often encourage families to make sure they have a calm and relatively relaxing morning and afternoon before coming to the session in order to reserve as much energy for the shoot as possible. Plus, kids who are not overstimulated from the day are less likely to extend their short fuses and crash before the full 45 minutes to one hour is over.
In order to prepare kids under 6 for a family session, here is what I recommend:
- Delay nap times to early afternoon or before the session in order to ensure kids do not get too tired or cranky during the precious sunset hour. This often means their schedules will be off for a day or two, but trust me, pictures during sunset and golden hour make a world of a difference in image quality!
- Make sure your kids are well fed and have snacked beforehand. Many sunset sessions often occur during or shortly after dinner time so it’s important kids aren’t hungry during a shoot. I also encourage NOT packing snacks for the shoot given kids will often want to keep the snack in their hands while they continue to walk around or explore and crumbs or pieces of food can get stuck to their mouths or clothing.
- Pack a bag with extra wipes, water, or items you anticipate needing during the shoot and also to store your personal items – I will hold this bag along with my gear! Also, if you have really small ones, bring a stroller! I will bring a prop blanket for on the ground shots.
- When you have your kids, avoiding pointing to the camera, instead, tell your kids (particularly the little ones) "do you see the ladybug/froggie/butterfly on her camera" AND leave it mostly to me to direct your kids to look at me. Instead, focus on playing/tickling/snuggling/engaging them as you would if I were not there!
- If I suggest a pose and they do not cooperate (even after you try to tickle or play), let's take their lead and follow - I've found it's easier to go with their whims than trying to force them to do something specific when they really do not want to, this also leads to less resistance down the road!
- Kids are curious, they will get distracted by what they want to see, walk towards, or explore. When they do this, stand next to them and help them explore or demonstrate excitement about what they are doing.
- Bribes! I encourage using these in moments 1-2 times during the session. Clear candies that they can quickly eat and aren’t as visible in their mouth are best such as clear gummies, small m&ms, or mini starbursts.
- When I'm trying to get a portrait of one or multiple kids together and they aren't looking at me and I can't get their attention, hover right over my left/right shoulder (as close to my lens as you can) and get them to laugh or look at you!
- Have fun!