photo shoots for children

How to prepare for your family photo session

You’ve booked your photographer, persuaded your family to have their photos taken, found a date, a time and a place that suits everyone. Now to make sure every member of the family is ready and prepared for the fun which lies ahead.


There is very little one can do with a tired, grumpy child. My photo sessions are fun for the kids, with a lot of jumping and running around. For this, we need them to be well rested and full of energy. If you are worried about jet-lag after a long flight, try make your photo shoot later in the holiday when sleep times have regulated a bit.

photo shoots for children


Often shoots are at sunset which for little people coincides with their meal time. Try have an early lunch and then an early supper/snack before the shoot. Food on a shoot is often quite tricky, it makes a mess of their mouth and hands and they just want to keep going back to the bag for more. Definitely bring a little snack with for the absolute just in case emergency moment but keep it hidden until really needed.

photo shoots for children


Even from quite a young age you can explain to your kids the plan for the photo session. Tell them who your photographer is, the photographers name and where and how long you will be doing the shoot.

family photo shoot

I did a shoot a little while ago with the cutest little three year-old girl. She had already been told my name, so she felt very confident meeting me, I wasn’t a stranger to her. She then led us to her favourite spot at the hotel where she wanted to take some photos. The photos of that particular spot weren’t great and I didn’t use them in the family gallery but it started off our shoot on a good footing and helped the toddler feel involved.

To bribe or not to bribe

I am not a big fan of having to bribe kids for photo-sessions  (husbands are a different story… 🙂

photo shoots for children

Family photo sessions should be a fun afternoon, a moment in time when your whole family get together and celebrate your love for each other. It’s not a hardship to give big bear hugs and sherbet kisses to each other.  I feel a bribe implies that it’s going to be no fun at all, just hard work.  I must admit I did go through a stage of taking so many photos of my kids while I was learning that they did begin to roll their eyes when they saw me take out my camera.  But, once we got into the “game” of the shoot they would normally forget their moans and enjoy themselves. Yes, there is always the day when the child is just not in the mood and that needs to be respected. But, a mom hugging and breathing-in her child who is tucked into her shoulder makes for the most touching of photos. The viewer never needs to know the child was crying or was miserable.

Let everyone give photo ideas.

photo shoots for children

If your kids are old enough, ask them their opinion of which type of photo they would like to have of themselves or of the family.  You will be surprised and delighted with what they come up with.  It’s best to ask them this a few days in advance to give them time to think it over.  These are some of the requests I have had from kids – to be spun around by Dad; holding the new baby sibling; just daughter and mom; being swung in between Mom and Dad.

What to wear

family photo shoot

The best advice I can give for clothes is absolutely no large words or logos. It just draws the viewers eye directly to it.  You need to be comfortable and cool, especially for hot afternoon beach shoots. Kids absolutely play and behave better when they are not worrying about the hot, sticky outfit they have to wear. The family in the photo above got it just right, they are all co-ordinated but not super matchy-matchy.  You can read more about what to wear to a photo shoot here , I wrote a full blog with suggestions.


Let the photographer take control of your session.  A good photographer can manage everyone from the kids to the grannies. Don’t worry about your kids; if they wander off, take the opportunity to take some couple photos. If everyone is trying to “direct” the shoot, it just starts getting messy with the children not knowing who they should listen to.  Take the afternoon off and let someone else take control, your work of getting everyone to the shoot is done so now take a deep breath, exhale and enjoy.

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