8 Tips to Prepare Toddlers for a Family Photo Session
I’d like to offer 8 helpful tips for how you can prepare your toddlers for a successful family photo session. One of the common concerns clients have when considering a family photo session is how will their children behave in front of the camera. This is a completely normal concern, especially as the sun goes down later and sessions start closer to their normal bedtime, moms worry that their toddlers won’t be in the best mood for pictures at sunset.
As a mom of three children who literally bicker like it’s their job, I can tell you that I’ve seen it all, and I want you to feel reassured that I’ve got many years of experience (and a background in education) to help make children feel comfortable enough exploring a new location with a new person. My goal is a relaxed and fun experience for the children so that we are able to capture lots of natural expressions. I’ve got all kinds of tricks up my sleeve to get the images we parents long for, even when our little ones may seem less than cooperative.
A few things you can do to prepare your young children for a family photo session:
Tip #1 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Show them my picture before the session.
You can go to my website and show them what I look like and introduce me! You might say something like, “This is our friend AnneMarie, and she’s going to hang out at the park with us and take some pictures of our family having fun together!” This will help warm them up to me before we even meet. Avoid saying things like, “You better behave for AnneMarie…” and other threatening statements. Establish this as a fun occasion to look forward to!
Tip #2 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Let them know what to expect about the photo session.
Prepare your child for our family photo session by talking about how we will be going to a park to watch the sunset for about an hour and play/cuddle as a family, and AnneMarie will show us some of her favorite spots to explore! Be sure to put zero pressure about you must behave or perform for the camera. Remember to build this up as an exciting activity with the family!
Tip #3 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Talk about what you might do with the pictures
You can talk to your little one about why it’s important to you to have pictures taken, and where you might display them. You can show them a spot on the wall you’re hoping to hang some pictures, or how you can’t wait to gift grandma a picture of your little one! Or mention the Christmas card, even if it’s summer 🙂 This helps the children to understand why family photos are special to you, and how you can’t wait to see their sweet faces on your walls soon!
Tip #4 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Plan a late nap time
If they still nap try for a little later nap that day! Try not to project stress about them napping- they can pick up on this pressure so easily. Doesn’t it always seem like children don’t nap well before something important?! Try to stay calm and relaxed during the day and keep the routine, but just push that nap time a tad later if we will be doing a sunset session closer to their normal bedtime.
Tip #5 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Bring non-messy snacks
Plan on bringing a non-messy snack like goldfish, pretzels, etc in case need a little pick-me-up during our session. Gummy snacks or fruit can work wonders! While I keep my sessions easy-going and playful, if they are are little fussy a quick snack break often helps. You can’t tell from this session at all, but this little toddler was a bit fussy after a little while given it was close to her bedtime. We did stop and have snacks, and that helped us rebound for a few more candid moments before wrapping it up. I never want children to get upset or have a bad experience at a photo session, so it’s important to me to make sure to end on a positive note before meltdowns 🙂
Tip #6 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Stay calm during our session!
I know you may feel like your toddler is the only toddler I’ve ever met who just wanted to run away from the camera the entire time. But I promise you, this is completely normal and expected! Nothing your children can do will phase me the slightest! It’s really helpful though for parents not to stress out during a session when their toddler is just being a tiny human who is just ever on the move and exerting their newfound independence.
Shifting the parent mindset towards playfulness and storytelling can go a long way! I want to foster a positive energy and experience for your children during our session.
Tip #7 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Bring a change of clothes for your children
Bring a change of clothes (especially essential if we will be near water) for the ride home. Pjs for the ride home are a great idea!
Tip #8 to prepare a toddler for a family photo session: Plan a special treat for afterwards.
Who doesn’t love ice cream? I strongly encourage parents not to threaten children with behaving to get a treat, but just to make it a fun surprise for after, the cherry on top of a lovely evening out together. I really want kids to feel at ease, and we can work together to accomplish this by just keeping the occasion light-hearted and easy-going without pressure on the child to perform.
Some of my favorite spots for ice cream in Delaware and Philadelphia include:
Vanderwende Farm Creamery (Philly and Delaware Shore!)
Ready to make some magic with me? ☀️ Reach out to me ASAP! My calendar is fuller than ever early in the season and I want to serve as many families as I can while maintaining a really personal experience for each of you.
AnneMarie Hamant is an experienced lifestyle family photographer serving the greater Philadelphia, PA region, Delaware and the Eastern Shore Maryland. She creates magical, candid portraits of families and children. Learn more about my family sessions
Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about working together.
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