I still remember the first time I took photos with kids.
A few years ago, a real estate company hired me to do a Christmas mini session day for their clients. I had never taken photos with kids before. In fact, I'd never really ever interacted with a kid before. And man, was I in for a rude awakening. I wasn't prepared AT ALL for the tears. For the screams. And the frustrated parents.
Honestly, I had no idea that there was an art to good photos with kids.
I felt helpless. I had no idea how to cultivate a welcoming environment. Or how to elicit giggles or smiles. I didn't know how to guide parents in preparation for the photos.
While I still managed to get a few good photos for each family, I left that day of mini sessions knowing I could do better.
Family sessions do not have to be a nightmare. They don't have to be stressful or daunting or even just another evening that you need to "get over with" so you have a nice holiday card to send at the end of the year.
Photos with kids can be a fun experience that becomes a memory you look back on for the rest of your life.
In the past 5 years, I have done the work to learn how to create experiences kids and parents alike love. Turning photo sessions that feel like a chore into an engaging activity is the heart behind my Storytelling Sessions.
PS: You might notice you don't see photos of kids on my website. That's intentional. In 2023, I decided to stop sharing photos of kids on the internet. If you're interested in booking me for a family session, and want to see samples of my work with kids, I can send you a few galleries once you inquire here.
6 Tips for Photos with Kids
1. Teach them about photography
Are we surprised that kids hate photos when we expect them to sit still and smile at a mysterious machine? They might have no idea what is going on. At all of my sessions, if the kid is interested I will show them how my camera works and even let them click the shutter button a few times. Try showing your kids the magic of photography, it might make them more excited for photos.
2. Snacks and naps are key for photos with kids
I always recommend making sure your kid has gotten their daily nap before an evening session. Additionally, don't forget to ensure they eat a filling meal beforehand and bring their favorite snacks to have on hand in case their blood sugar begins to crash. So often photo sessions go south just because people get hangry.
3. Pick a location they will be excited about
You can pretty much do a photo session anywhere, why not do it somewhere that will bring a smile to your kid's face? Even if you really want to take photos in a field during golden hour, there are plenty of options in Austin that also have a jungle gym, too.
Here are a few spots around Austin that are kid and photographer-approved:
- Mueller Lake Park & the Southwest Greenway in Central Austin
- Meanwhile Brewing in Central Austin
- Circle C Ranch Metropolitan Park in South Austin
- Brushy Creek Lake Park in Cedar Park
- Old Settlers Park in Round Rock
- Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm in Elgin
4. Incorporate games, movement, and music
You know what simple games make your kids smile the most. We capture the best candid photos during games, whether you play ring around the posey, have a tickle fight, or race each other around. Kids love to be swung around by their parents or show off their best dance moves to their favorite song.
5. For smaller kids, ask if they can see Mickey Mouse in the lens
If you really want a posed photo where everyone is looking at the camera, this is the trick I use to get eye contact from toddlers. If I notice a toddler is having a hard time with the concept of staring at the camera, I'll simply ask them if they can see whoever their favorite character is in my lens. I tell them if they look hard enough, they'll see that character "wink" at them.
6. When in doubt... Bribes!
If nothing else works, it's time to negotiate with kids. The bribe can be anything that excites them. Promise they'll get ice cream after the session or buy a fun toy and tell them they get to have it at the end of the session. As long as you keep reminding them of the reward at the end of the experience, they tend to stay game for a few photos.
Have any tips you want to share? Leave a comment below!
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