Let me paint you a picture of the average family photography session
It starts before the session, possibly even before booking a photographer at all. You see images of neatly dressed families smiling sweetly at the camera and you think "That! I want that!" So you spend days and weeks telling your partner and children about what you expect from them and how you want them to be on their best behavior.
You find the perfect outfits for them, striking that balance between matchy-matchy and dysfunctional. You lay everything out and make sure no one spills anything on themselves as you pile into the car and head out to your session. You remind everyone--AGAIN--how important this is to you and how they need to behave themselves.
Then I introduce myself...and I can cut the tension with a knife. Us adults spend the majority of the session trying to convince the kids to have fun and smile. If that doesn’t work, out come the bribes. All the while we aren’t dealing with the real problem: their negative experience of photography started long before they arrived. Let’s create a positive experience from the start by replacing some of the things we tell our families with new ideas.
“I want you to be on your best behavior”
Tempting, I know. However, goofy and curious kids are actually much easier for me to engage with and that makes the whole thing feel like fun family time rather than a chore.
Instead say: “We’re going to meet a new friend who is going to take pictures for us”
Are you using the pictures for a holiday card? Are you gifting prints to grandma? Let them in the loop and get them excited. What sounds better: “You better be on your best behavior” or “Our friend Nicole is going to help us take some pictures for grandma so she can put them up in her house and see you every day.”
“I want everyone to look at the camera”
It’s so much easier for me to connect with your kids about what they’re interested in--and when I do this they will naturally look towards the camera since I’ll be right behind it.
Instead say: literally Anything that will help me connect with your family
Favorite movies, shows, characters, colors, books, foods, their friends, their favorite sports or activities--there are so many things we can talk about to keep everyone in the conversation. Everyone loves talking about their favorite things and happy people make great pictures.
Don’t be fooled--great images do not come out of the most well-behaved, perfectly posed people. They are a result of happy people and real smiles. So take the pressure off yourself and your family. Don’t let perfectionism ruin the fun that could be had by showing up just as you are and enjoying that time together!