Photography, Photography Tips and Tricks

April 27, 2018

Tips for Keeping Kids Happy for Photos

Spring finally arrived in Syracuse this week and I could NOT be happier!  The nicer weather also means that business is picking up around here.  It’s no surprise that most people want photos when there’s actually greenery in the background!  One of the questions I get asked the most is from parents:  “What if my child cries the entire session?!”  Today I’m sharing some tips for keeping kids happy for photos!

Number One: Come prepared. 

I know I’ve hit on this one a bunch of times.  (See my post on preparing for your family session!)  If you have prepared your children for the session, there will be less chance of a melt-down.  Some practical ways you can prepare are:

  • Making sure your kids are well fed before the session
  • Packing extra snacks (the less messy the better)
  • Chosing outfits that are somewhat comfortable and that your kids can move around in
  • Scheduling your session so that it doesn’t interfere with meals or naps
  • Bringing a toy or lovey for your child to hold

These little actions on your part will set you up for success right from the get-go!

Samantha Ludlow Photography, Keeping Kids Happy for Photos, Syracuse photographer, Syracuse family photographer, childrens photographer, CNY photographer, mother's day mini sessions

This is one of my favorite sessions to date! It was also one of the biggest families I’ve photographed. With four kids, keeping everyone happy was a challenge! However, this family came prepared for any situation (bringing props, a football, multiple outfits…) and their photos turned out great!

Number Two: Let me do the hard work.

I’ve worked with babies and children of all ages and I’ve learned a few tricks to help them relax.  I know that kids (and adults!) can be intimidated by having a camera in their face.  It takes everyone some time to warm up and act natural.  For this reason I always start the session with the more posed portraits, and then move on to more relaxed shots as time goes on.  By the end of the session, people usually feel more comfortable and I’m able to get less-posed shots. 

I also have a bunch of tricks up my sleeve to get kids to smile or laugh.  I’ve tried everything from having siblings tickle each other to holding a squeaky toy in front of the camera to telling potty jokes!  Plus, I’m always game to have parents make silly faces behind my back!  Kids LOVE when their parents give me bunny ears!  And I always have a bag of Smarties candies on hand if straight out bribery is needed (always with parents’ permission, of course).  

Samantha Ludlow Photography, Keeping Kids Happy for Photos, Syracuse photographer, Syracuse family photographer, childrens photographer, CNY photographer, mother's day mini sessions

At some point or another, all of these kids started getting grumpy or didn’t want to do more photos, because they’re kids and that’s normal! But with some patience and some extra effort on my part, I was able to get them all to smile!

Number Three: Roll with it!

As parents, we all want a photo with all of our kids smiling perfectly at the camera.  That’s totally understandable!  But I also like to remind my clients that some of the best moments happen when you forget the camera is there.  I love capturing my families interacting with each other – laughing, hugging, talking, or giving a kiss on the cheek.  Those are my FAVORITE moments, because they are genuinely you!  If your kids don’t want to look at the camera, don’t worry!  I’m still going to get fantastic shots! 

The same goes for the times when one child is just not feeling it.  Sometimes a photo of your little one snuggling on your nap is just as precious as a cheesy grin!  Remember, real life isn’t made up only of smiles and laughter.  The quiet, tender moments can be the ones we want to remember the most!  

Samantha Ludlow Photography, Keeping Kids Happy for Photos, Syracuse photographer, Syracuse family photographer, childrens photographer, CNY photographer, mother's day mini sessions

These are two of my favorites from this session and neither subject is looking at the camera! Allowing Taylor to look out at the lake as he joked with his dad and letting Estelle play with the dandelions allowed them to relax so that I could capture their true personalities.

The Bottom Line

It’s perfectly normal to worry about how your kids will behave for a portrait session!  The truth is, keeping kids happy for photos can be as simple as coming prepared, trusting your photographer, and just letting go of the stress – no matter how the session is going.  If you follow the tips above, chances are you’ll end up with photos you can cherish for years!

There are still a few spots open for Mother’s Day Mini Sessions!  Click here for more information or to sign up!

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