If you've booked a family photo shoot, a few 'what if' scenarios may well cross your mind in the run up to it. Top of lots of parent's lists - what if my children don't behave on the day?!
The first thing I must say is please don't worry! Even if the worst happens, and your child has a tantrum or doesn't want to cooperate it's not the end of the world. I'm a mum too and take it all in my stride - and you won't be the first family I've photographed where this has happened. If your child is not at their best on the day we'll figure out a way through it together - my priority is to make sure you end up with photographs you love.
Based on my experience of working with other families, there are things you can do before and during the shoot to help it run smoothly. Here are my recommendations of what works well.
Preparing Babies and Toddlers
The most important thing for babies and toddlers is to make sure that they are well fed and well rested before the session. My sessions usually happen in the morning, when young children tend to be more relaxed. Having said that it's always a good idea for us to have a chat about your routines when you book to make sure we work around them. If for some reason the session is going to overlap with a regular nap or meal time, try to bring it forward to just before we meet.
Preparing Older Children
If you have older children I recommend doing some work beforehand to 'frame' the shoot as a positive experience. Talk to them about the session in a positive way in the days leading up to it. Tell them my name, and that I’ll be the person taking their photo. Show them a photo of me (such as the one on my Facebook page or the ones here), and let them know that I’ll take some photos of everyone, some of small groups, and some of them on their own so that they’re prepared for it.
It can be helpful to discuss a reward for being good during the shoot - perhaps a favourite film you could watch that afternoon, or a little treat. I often see parents remind their children about the treat during a shoot, and it's a great way to keep them focussed. Some of the treats I've heard about over the last six months include a Kinder Egg, watching Frozen, going to see Santa and a bowl of Coco Pops!
Just as with babies and toddlers, make sure your children are not hungry - if the shoot is going to overlap with a regular mealtime for them you might want to offer them a snack beforehand. It’s a good idea to bring some snacks and drinks with you to the shoot too in case your little one gets hungry whilst we’re there.
Finally, it's helpful to arrive a little earlier than our meeting time so that your children can have a run around, relax, and are in good spirits when we get started. This will set the session up positively, rather than if you've just got out of the car and rushed to meet me.
During the Session
Once you arrive at the session try to relax and enjoy it! I know this is easier said than done, but if the worst happens and your little on isn't on form try not to worry about it - I'll work with you and your children to make sure that we capture your family beautifully. In case you need a little reassurance here are snippets of an email and review from two of my clients:
"....thank you so much - they look great. You've done such a good job with all the chaos that was happening with the kids!! I can't wait to show my husband tonight..."
"My 2 year old was a less than willing model, however Clare was very patient and had many tricks in her armoury.....and much to my surprise and delight managed to capture stunning images of my toddler and newborn together"
I hope you find these tips useful in preparing your children for your session. You can find the answers to more Frequently Asked Questions here.