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How to Make Family Photoshoots Fun

How excited do you get when family photoshoot day approaches? If you always hated those shoots when you were a kid because they were boring, you’re not alone. Perhaps you’ve had some dull ones as an adult as well. There’s no faster way to get your children rolling their eyes and turning away from the camera than to line up a full day of dull poses and forced smiles. 

That’s why we do our best to make every family photoshoot fun. Whether you have teenagers just waiting for the last snap so they can return to their phones or little ones who lose interest quickly, there are ways to shake up a photoshoot so that everyone enjoys it more. 

Start in a Relaxed Mood

A fun family photoshoot starts before the photographer arrives at your home. It’s all too common for families to spend their final moments rushing around, trying to get everyone dressed or cleaning up for an in-home shoot. That leads to a lot of tension and anxiety, which isn’t the mood you’re going for this time. 

You want to go into your photoshoot with open minds and a relaxed mood. You do that by spending the hour or two before the photographer arrives doing something relaxing. You may plan to watch a funny movie or play upbeat music and dance while waiting for the photographer. That’s also a good time to give the little ones a bit of screen time as long as they can put the screens back down when the photographer arrives. 

Are you wondering how you’re supposed to get your children ready for the photoshoot on time if you have to let them relax before the photographer arrives? It comes down to preparation. You don’t want to leave anything to the last minute. 

Here are some quick tips to help you prepare for a family photoshoot so that you don’t have to stress the hour before: 

  • Have everyone try on their photoshoot outfit at least two days before the shoot. That gives you time to adjust if your little one hit a growth spurt or there are other issues. You eliminate surprise wardrobe malfunctions this way. 
  • Don’t stress about immaculate cleaning before an in-home shoot. Make sure everything is reasonably cleaned and picked up the night before. Don’t panic if a cheerio hits the floor during breakfast. 
  • Leave tucking in shirts and other small details to the last second. It’s better to allow your child to relax with an untucked shirt for an hour than to chase them around insisting they leave it tucked while waiting on the photographer. It only takes a moment to tuck in a shirt or wipe off the last smudge of dirt from a chin. 
  • Prioritize your to-do list and start working down that list at least one week in advance. That ensures the most important things get done. If you don’t get through the list, only the minor details go unchecked. 

Give a Family Pep Talk

We’re not talking about the intensity of a football coach at halftime on a losing game. Think more like an uplifting graduation day speech that inspires everyone to throw their cap in the air and run off to a successful future. You want to tell your family that they look amazing and are about to create spectacular pictures that will stand out on the wall or make a great surprise gift for grandma. 

You can do this in the final moments of waiting. Maybe the photographer is due any moment or you see her pull into the driveway. Your goal is to put everyone in a positive mindset and solidify your shared goal for the photoshoot. You want everyone to have a great time, but following directions is also essential. 

By setting expectations just before the photoshoot begins, you put your children on their best behavior. They know what you expect of them during the shoot. By keeping your words positive and your tone uplifting, you put everyone in a good mood and increase the chance of everyone enjoying the experience.

"You want to tell your family that they look amazing and are about to create spectacular pictures that will stand out on the wall or make a great surprise gift for grandma."

Eliminate Distractions

Adult life is all about juggling responsibility, but you want to remain fully present at this photoshoot from start to finish. Let everyone know that your family is unavailable during the photoshoot. That may mean muting your phone so that you don’t hear intruding phone calls or telling everyone at work that you have a personal obligation the day of the shoot.

When you keep your attention fully on your children, they’re more likely to remain tuned into you as well. You can also role model paying close attention to the photographer and following instructions closely, encouraging your children to do the same. 

As soon as your attention wanders from the photoshoot, expect your children to wander as well. Kids of all ages ultimately crave your attention. This is the perfect time to give it to them 100%.

Plan a Fun Surprise - Or Two!

Is there a fun activity that your kids don’t get to enjoy often? Why not incorporate that activity into the photoshoot? You instantly turn the photoshoot into a fun activity that they want to enjoy. 

For instance, consider bringing out the bubbles for a few shots. If your little one loves cotton candy but only gets it once a year at the fair, try to find some for the shoot. You can even present a new toy as a fun surprise. Stuffed animals are great options because they look great even if they make it into some of the photos.  

Another option is to create a picnic area with an arrangement of your child’s favorite snacks and drinks. Make sure not to include anything too sticky or messy because you don’t want snack time to lead to a wardrobe malfunction. This gives your child a safe place to relax when they aren’t on set. 

Go for the Action Shots

You don’t have to just sit perfectly still and smile through every shot. Throw in a playful pose here and there. Go in for an unexpected tickle or give your little one an impromptu hug. Interact with your children and encourage them to let their guard down and have some fun. 

You need to hold still for some shots, but you’re not robots. Don’t automatically correct silliness because personality can come through the camera if your children aren’t too stifled.

Some of the best shots are often caught between the posed smiles. You have to let loose to bring out those moments. 

Let the Kids Pick a Fun Pose

Have you ever seen a unique family photo floating around the internet and thought, “That’s a great idea!” Those shots are often planned and then carried out by families who aren’t afraid to have a little fun between the buttoned-up poses. One example is the Christmas greeting card shot that features the parents tied up in Christmas tree lights with their children standing nearby looking ornery. 

You don’t have to go to that extreme, but it’s a good idea to give your kids the opportunity to contribute one fun pose. One may want to do a cartwheel or backbend while another wants to hold his baseball bat or wear his football helmet. 

Make sure each of your children understand that they get to have just one or two shots with their creative idea. That way they don’t expect their baseball bat to make an appearance in every picture. 

Aim for Physical Comfort

Uncomfortable kids are unhappy kids who aren’t having much fun. It’s important to pick coordinated photoshoot outfits that will blend well in front of the camera, but comfort is just as important. Aim for clothing styles that your little one won’t tug and pull at or whine about. Make sure each item fits correctly and is appropriate for the weather as well. 

If you do want to include accessories that your child may not find entirely comfortable, plan to slip it on for a photo or two and take it right back off. For instance, you may put a bowtie on your baby for a few shots and then take it off if he doesn’t tolerate it well. The same goes for tiaras and tutus. Some little girls love those things while others can do without them. 

If you live in an unpredictable climate or plan your shoot around noon or early evening when the weather may shift, consider layering your child’s clothing. You can add or subtract a layer to match the weather without ruining the color scheme for the shoot. 

Get to Know Your Photographer

We’re talking a lot about letting your kids show their personality, choose a fun shot, and let loose for the camera, but that’s hard for some little ones to do in front of a stranger. If you haven’t established an ongoing relationship with one photographer, then the person holding the camera is a stranger to your child. 

You can overcome this by introducing your child to the photographer before the shoot even begins. How do you do that? Start by doing your research. Learn something fun about the photographer by reading their bio online or asking a question or two when you book the shoot. 

What’s your photographers favorite ice cream or candy? What about their favorite cartoon as a child? These simple questions take only a second for a photographer to answer but can make the stranger feel more intimate and known to a child. 

Choose Your Location Wisely

Finally, consider a home photoshoot over a visit to a studio. You keep your children in familiar territory where they feel comfortable. They will also have no problem finding a toy to play with between shots or refilling a sippy cup if they get thirsty. 

Some of the best shots come when children don’t know the camera is pointed at them. At-home and location photoshoots allow you to catch your children doing things that naturally occur in their daily lives. The easiest way to put them in their element is to find them in their most comfortable element. 

To schedule your next fun family photoshoot, give Life365 Portraits a call. Our photographers want to get to know your family and help you capture magical moments as your little ones grow. 

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