We all want our photoshoots to go picture perfect. I'm talking pinterest worthy moments of children smiling and laughing, loving on their siblings, frolicking through fields without a care in the world with the sun at their backs, looking like they stepped out of a catalog, exclaiming how much they love you and how happy they are to be taking photos!
Yeah, um, that doesn't happen, and perfect photoshoots don't exist.
You may see a beautiful photo that seems to show this happening and wonder how in the world you can do the same when its almost guaranteed that one or more of your children will have this happen before your session:
1.They fell asleep in the car and are NOT one of those kids that wakes up happy from a nap.
2.They got a scratch, bump, black eye, on their face the day of, or a couple days before the session.
3.They have decided that this was the one day they would outright refuse a nap.
Guys, this is life! Especially for photographing children! The BIGGEST tip I can give for getting your photo sessions to go smoothly is this.
Chill. Roll with it. Relax. BREATHE.
Every photoshoot is different, and every child is different. Sometimes your child isn't going to want to sit still and give me the school photo smile. When that happens, what can we do? Roll with it.
Your son wants to explore a little? We can follow him around and let him discover something new. Your daughter doesn't want to part with her blankie? Let her have it in some photos until she is comfortable. We may get lucky and she'll let us hold it for a while, and if not, this is her! When she was 3 she wouldn't go anywhere without her blankie. These are memories!
Embrace the imperfections that are bound to happen with children and remember that you are there to capture them as they are at this age that is gone way too fast.
And what if your child got that big scratch on his face right before your session? You can do 1 of 2 things. Embrace it, he's a boy, that happens. Or ask if your photographer can remove it. 9 times out of ten it is an easy fix.
Now that we've talked about relaxing about things not in your control, I do have some tips on things you can keep in mind to help get your photoshoot as close to pinterest worthy as possible!
1. If you know your child may nap in the car, try to plan to get to your session a little early to give them a chance to wake up before being put into a new situation, with a new stranger, with a giant camera in their face. ;)
2. If we're having snacks in the car, choose ones that won't leave a mess behind. This means leaving out the chocolatey, cheesy, powdery, sticky snacks! Cheerios and puffs are nice and clean!
3. Always, always, always, bring wipes/tissues. Especially if you have a teether there could be lots of slobber. Good to be prepared so we can keep their outfits as clean as possible. And you never know when you could have an unexpected boogie problem.
4. Help keep this experience fun! Your child may not want to smile for a while and need time to warm up. Try not to rush them into smiling on command, or demanding smiles. Let's keep it all light hearted and fun. Talk about things you child loves, tell jokes, do funny dances if needed! Photoshoots can be so quick and I know you want the best smiles in your session, but don't stress. Your child feels that stress and it becomes much harder to get smiles.
5. Embrace the bribe! It can do wonders. But you need to know when to do it. It's not the best idea to start off right away with a bribe they can see. We want to just hang out and play and have fun. Once they know they are performing to get a prize, that can turn into the main goal. Even worse, they could decide they'd rather not wait until the end, and demand it now, and melt downs ensue.
Smarties are a great mid shoot bribe if needed. They are fairly clean, and small, so if they have to have them in their mouth, they are easier to hide.
Along these same lines, if you've brought something along to use in photos "in case of emergency", wait until that emergency. Busting out toys and bubbles and the like in the beginning could mean allll of your photos will have to have them as they very likely will not want to give them up.
So, what have we learned? The perfect photo shoot doesn't really exist. Lots of things can happen in and out of our control. We can be proactive and prepared to help things go smoothly, BUT if they don't, its OK. When you're looking back on your photos years down the road, scraped knees and messy hair showed they played hard. The photos where they HAD to be in mommies lap showed how much they needed you. The photos where they are running off to explore new spots show how curious and independent they were.
Embrace the real moments in your session and don't always strive for perfect. You won't be disappointed. :)