In-Home Photography FAQ's | How to make sure your kids cooperate

Friends, prepping for a photo session is overwhelming. ESPECIALLY if you don't speak Photographerese; especially if you're having an in-home session; especially if you don't know what to expect; especially if it's your first time with a new photographer. So let's demystify the process, shall we?

In my business, I try to keep things simple. I've shopped for a photographer before, and - even for me, after 10 years in the business - it can be hard to know what you're actually getting into beforehand. So let me break down for you just exactly what you should know before hiring me. I'm going to be answering one FAQ at a time about what I do for the next couple of weeks. In the first post, I defined some important photography terms to help you understand the style of the photographer you're thinking of hiring, and explained my own style a bit. You can read that here.

The second post, last Friday, I talked about what to wear for your session to help you feel most confident and relaxed (hint: it's not a sequined gown). You can read that one here. And on Monday, I talked about how to prepare your home for your session (hint: don't stress over a top-to-bottom remodel or spring cleaning). You can read that post here

Today we're talking about how to ensure your family cooperates. Spoiler alert: it's not threats or bribes (but, you know, you do you).

FAQ #5: How do I make sure my kids (and spouse!) will cooperate?

We set you up for success, that's how. Practically speaking, that means 1) choosing familiar surroundings, 2) planning engaging activities (so no one's wondering "what do I do with my hands??"), 3) creating a low-pressure environment with zero expectations of behavior. Let's break that down.

  • Location. Very few kids or adults actually enjoy being photographed; let's be real here, it's uncomfortable and causes a lot of self-doubt, insecurity, and hyper awareness. You know what's not uncomfortable? Familiar surroundings. Doing your daily life in a place where you can let down your hair, so to speak. That's why we'll shoot in your home - or in some cases, a place your family loves (I've shot sessions at the Tennessee Aquarium, the Riverpark, the Marin Headlands outside of San Fransisco....the world is your oyster as long as it's a meaningful and comfortable spot for your family).
  • Activity. We'll choose activities to do that your family can enjoy together and keep kids (and dads) engaged. For you, as the member of the family likely MOST invested in a "perfect" outcome, the key is this: the more engaged and relaxed you are, the quicker you stop wondering "am I doing this right??" "Is this my best side?" "Should I look at the camera, or not?" For your kids, familiar and fun activities mean no having to sit still, say cheese, wear itchy uncomfortable clothing, hold a smile. It means being free to engage and have fun and let their personalities show. For your spouse, it means not having to suffer through posing and discomfort and wondering when you'll be done (I can't tell you how many dads have told me as I'm packing up to leave, "really?? That's all? That was so easy! I....actually had FUN....I don't know what I was worried about!")
  • Zero expectations. In ten years of running my own photography business, I've learned a few things (mostly from my own mistakes, y'all, let's be real); this one is hard to hear, but it's VITAL. Are you ready? Hands down, the fastest way to sabotage your session is putting unrealistic expectations on your family. I've seen so many nervous moms shoot themselves in the foot (so to speak) by coming in with false expectations of Pinterest-perfect toddlers and pristine posing. Honestly, that's on me. That means I haven't done my job of preparing my clients for their photography experience. Kids don't respond well to threats or bribes; if your desired outcome is genuine moments of connected intimacy and warmth, a threat of discipline for bad behavior is the last way to achieve this. Even a promise of "a cookie if you smile for the camera" sets a kid up to fail. At best, what you'll get is a fake, nervous grin. At worst, a frustrated meltdown. 

Now, I realize that this last point is hard to hear, especially for naturally anxious or perfectionistic people (I see you, I know you, I love you, I AM you). But you CAN do it! Let your kids be kids. Let them run (I'll run after them!). Let them have a moment to collect themselves if they're overwhelmed or headed for a meltdown. Let them cry (sometimes, you may want a picture of this too). Let them jump on the bed, or get dirty, or blow bubbles inside. Just for today, let it happen. Trust me to capture the moment, and relax into being present.

You can do this!

Now offering Family Films, booked alone or as an add on to your family photo session. Tell your (ordinary, beautiful, irreplaceable) story.