As a professional family photographer, I often am asked how I keep family photography sessions fun for kids. The last thing you want as you are trying to create genuine and beautiful family memories is for it to feel forced. Because if it feels forced, it will LOOK forced. And every time you look back on those photos you will just think about how it was so much hard work to get them done, and the genuineness of the moment completely evaporates.
I’ve included a few little photos that I have captured of my own little one, Daisy.
As a professional Brisbane family photographer I work with kids alllll the time, as well as document my own kids as they grow. So I have a ton of great tips on how to keep children engaged in having their photos taken, as well as make it a fun experience for everyone involved! These tips are applicable for your professional photos with a family photographer, or just as you are documenting moments in your own time. Here are my top tips for any mama looking to document some really special moments as their kids grow:
1. Keep it lighthearted, family portraits aren’t the time for discipline.
I let my mamas know all the time, taking family photos is not the time to pull out the heavy discipline! You don’t want kids associating creating family photography and memories with having to perform or risk being in trouble.
But I hear you say, what if the kids are doing something that they know they shouldn’t?
My biggest tip here is to take away opportunities in which bad behaviour is more likely. And create a really easy, safe space for the photos to occur. You know your kid best! If they seem to mis-behave more in your home, take them to the beach to create a chance for open play and fun. But if they are someone who throws sand in their sibling’s eye, then maybe a field is a better spot for your photos. For another kid however, home may be the place where they are most at ease and will co-operate in taking photos.
If they are having a day where they just don’t seem to be in a good move, or are super pushing the boundaries, or you already feel like your patience is low, choose another day to create some photos.
I say all this with a big disclaimer – I am in no way telling you how to parent haha, just try and keep photo taking a lighthearted activity. If you need discipline is truly necessary in the moment, be my guest.
2. Involve movement in your family photo shoot
Games and movement are one of my biggest suggestions to anyone wanting to get really engaged kids. You can also create some very unique family photography moments!
As a professional family photographer I use a lot of prompts to get great movement and more natural photographs. Some examples you could give a try next time your kids are in front of the camera lens are:
- Can you twirl like a ballerina
- Draw a picture sister’s back, now tell me, what did she draw?
- Time to play chinese whispers, can you tell me what your little brother whispered in your ear?
- Let’s have a race from that tree to that tree. Last one there’s a rotten egg.
- Give your baby brother a tickle on his knees, can you make him smile?
3. Use food to keep kids interested as you create your family photos
Because, who doesn’t love food! I always recommend having snacks on hand when doing photos to make sure the kiddo’s don’t get hangry. But you can also theme your photos around a food related activity such as:
- Eating ice creams at the beach
- Baking a cake together
- Sharing a platter (great for older kids)
- Roasting marshmallows at a campfire
Food and non-food related activities are a great way to get really natural shots. Just plan for mess haha.
4. Create buy in with your kids, by giving them choices and opportunity for creative input
If you’ve ever had a toddler you will know the tip to give them choices to eventually get from them what you need! For example, if you’ve ever experienced the that is your kids not wearing what you need them to, it can be helpful to give them a few options and have them choose.
“Would you like to wear your overalls, or this dress.”
Both of these options work for you, but you are giving them a sense of independence when you offer them a choice between two things.
The same thing works when creating photos with your kids (and I say, WITH, because they have to be a willing participant haha). Instead of dictating every aspect of the shoot, give them a chance to have their say on some of the aspects like:
- What they will wear
- What location they will you take photos at
- What games they want to play when they are there
- Which toy should feature in the shoot
This also is a great way to craft the options and final photos because you are giving them two choices that are both viable and will both fit the overall vision! So you wouldn’t give them a choice of two locations which you know would be a nightmare, you would be giving them the choice between two locations which could both work.
For older kids, you could even make it a fun game like a lucky dip, where you cut up all the options, put it in a hat, draw out the aspects of the shoot.
5. Say it with me: If things get cray, put the camera away.
There are going to be plenty more opportunities to document your family with loved-up family portraits and family pictures. If things start to get really hairy, take a deep breath and put the camera away. It’s not worth chasing a kid for 2 hours trying to get the perfect shot if you know they are using the situation to have their way. As a mama with a professional mirrorless camera in my hand very often, I don’t want my child thinking they can cause mayhem and I’m just going to go along with it to ‘get the shot’.
If you find yourself in the same situation and very often are taking photos, don’t give your kiddos the chance to get crazy. I know this may seem to contradict my first tip. But if things get cray, put the camera away.
I promise, there will be more chances to take photos 🙂
6. Make it about more than just creating family pictures
Who says you need to have your camera in your hand the whole time. Enjoy some snuggles, chats and moments without the camera involved. If you’ve taken a trip to the beach, get some ice cream and just sit down and eat it. Put the camera back in the car after you have the shots you wanted, get sandy, get in the water, and actually ENJOY the time you have created to be together.
Always keep in mind why you are taking the photos in the first place. xx
If you’re looking to kick it up a notch and have a professional Brisbane Family Photographer capture your family, GET IN TOUCH to book a session.