Preparing Your Child For A Photo Session



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I'm Marjorie


I work with parents who want relaxed and unposed photos, providing them with images that capture the joyful and unscripted moments in life.

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*A quick disclaimer that I’m writing this as a documentary-style photographer who exclusively offers at-home sessions. I do not pose clients, nor do I force smiles or interactions. All my photos are a result of real moments that happened organically during a session.

Preparing your child for a photo session at home can be a fun and exciting experience. With a little planning and a lot of love, you can help them feel confident and comfortable in front of the camera. In this guide, I’ll share some valuable tips on how to capture beautiful memories by preparing your child for a photo session.

Collage of images demonstrating the benefits of preparing your child for a photo session. Kids and parents are relaxed and happy together.

Benefits of preparing your child for a photo session

Preparing your child for a professional photoshoot at home has several benefits. It can lead to improved behavior and cooperation during the shoot and increase the chances of capturing authentic photos of joy and connection. This preparation also helps reduce stress for both the child and the parent. By following these tips, you can create a fun and comfortable environment for your child, allowing them to feel confident and natural in front of the camera. So let’s get started and make this photoshoot a wonderful experience for everyone involved!

Two photos of moms playing with their toddlers are home during a photo session.

Tips for preparing your child for your photo session

Tell them it’s happening

Make sure you let your child know ahead of time that a photographer is coming over to the home to take photos of the family with their big camera. While children don’t need to be aware of this too far in advance, it’s not advisable to surprise them with a photoshoot.

Pick outfits together ahead of time

When it comes to slightly older kids (4yo and up,) especially the ones who are used to dressing themselves in the morning, it’s a good idea to involve them in the process when it comes to picking outfits. Especially if this is something you are concerned about. Give them a couple of options ahead of time and let them choose their favorites.

Plan their favorite activities

Think of some of your child’s favorite activities – playing with their favorite toy, reading a book, baking, etc – and set up stations for them right before your photo session. Then once the session starts, let them choose the order in which you cycle through the activities. This will give them a sense of control and keep them entertained by their favorite things.

For a list of fun and easy activities, check out my blog post Best Activities for At-Home Family Photos.

Keep the day light and easy

Don’t plan anything big before your session and keep it light afterwards as well. Though they may not process things the same as adults, it can take a lot of energy for young kids to go through a photo session. Imagine having a stranger in your home for over an hour watching your every move! It can feel intimidating. So take it easy on them.

Introduce Something special

Use the session as an excuse to bend the rules a bit. Little things like jumping on the bed, eating pancakes, etc. Something that doesn’t happen every day, but you do allow once in a while. This will bring out excitement and pure joy in your child.

Managing Your Expectations

A big part of having a successful session is managing your expectations. Your photo session, in all honestly, will probably not go down exactly like you have in mind. It falls on you to roll with the punches and keep a positive attitude.

Accept that kids will be kids

Please remember that most sessions feel like total chaos at times – or even for the majority of our time together. This is normal. These kids are young and cannot be expected to “behave” the entire time. They will not be engaged during the entire session. They will not be cuddly during the entire session. They will not be sweet with their sibling for the entire session. That is normal and developmentally appropriate. We only need glimpses of this to make beautiful photos.

Embrace the real moments

If you are able to relax into it and simply enjoy your children during your session, I guarantee that moments of love and connection will happen organically. It’s about setting the scene to allow for that to happen, and staying present so the moments are real.

Trust the photographer

Any photographer who has experience working with young kids knows not to expect things to go perfectly. That’s the nature of this job. The beauty comes from the candid moments that unravel between your people – a family who loves each other.

Photo collage of of joyful, unposed children with their parents during an at-home photo session.

Final Thoughts

Remember that huge chunks of your Family Photo Session will feel like chaos. That is absolutely normal. Even by preparing your child for a photo session, you will not, nor should you, be able to control your kid’s behavior. But that’s the beauty of documentary-style photography. It’s best to do what you can ahead of time and then let it all go, and adopt an attitude of going with the flow. You will be just fine!

If you’re considering an at-home photo session, grab your FREE Guide on How To Prepare Your Home For Your Photo Session!


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Preparing Your Home For Your Photo Session

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