I may be a photographer, and I may know better, but that didn’t keep me from still doing everything wrong the day of my kids’ photos. Scroll down to see a gallery :)
Confession: I have never had professional photos taken of my family. I know! I haven't had any time and It’s hard to get me in front of the camera, but that’s a topic for another blog.
I finally decided to have someone take my kids’ photos for their birthday since they are about 3 weeks apart and I wanted something different than what I usually do. We finally found a date that worked with our busy schedules – a weekday after work. I raced home from work, scoured the house for the 2 outfits/kid I wanted to use, packed up some snacks, and gave myself enough time to stop at Target on the way to find a couple simple things I couldn't find when searching. I also decided that since the kids were excited about photos, I’d go ahead and grab them a small toy matchbox car each for afterwards.
We drove about 40 min to the location and of course I’m running late. Despite my careful planning (ha!), I apparently have no concept of how time works. Don't be like me.
We finally get there and suddenly my sweet boy has gone from excited to not having it at all! I had literally never seen him act the way he did once we pulled up to the location. He would not get out of the car. He held onto his car seat for dear life and screamed and cried. I honestly had no idea how to parent that. I’d never encountered this before. I finally get him out and he sits, limp, on the gravel parking lot with his arms crossed and his head down. Where did my sweet baby go?!
I let him sit there while I got sissy dressed and tried make it look like we were having a blast. I thought by the time she was ready, he would be. He wasn't. He cried THE ENTIRE TIME we tried to shoot in the sunflowers. He wanted to run back to the car, he wouldn’t listen, I was sure he had been possessed! Of course you know what happened next- his sister caught his feelings. Suddenly she was losing it too. Deep breath guys, deep breaths.
Our photographer, Kim, was SO patient. I was so embarrassed that my sweet kids were doing this, but she kept her cool. She made the suggestion that we change locations and so we did, hoping it could change the tune.
I get in the car, and now both kids are bawling. I try to identify with their feelings, I try to be patient, but finally I lose it and yell, “That’s ENOUGH!!!!!!”
I am extremely patient. My kids know that if I have finally lost it, we're all in trouble. We pull up to the new location and I tell Soren that it’s ok, he can stay in the car and that I don’t want him to take pictures anymore. He starts whimpering and I ask what’s wrong (I thought this was what he would have wanted and I was over all of it.) He said “I don’t want to be all lonely!” So, I tell him I don’t either, so he can come with us but he’s not going to be in the pictures. His posture and demeanor quickly changed. He looks at me and suddenly he’s my sweet little boy again. He asks, “Momma, can I wear my new shirt please?” This meant he wanted to be in the photos, so I said sure and helped him into it.
We got out, I told him to go play with his sister and so they did. He hammed it up, he smiled, he picked flowers for his sister.. it was lovely! The photos are lovely! (see below)
So if you haven't noticed, I did almost everything wrong.
To be specific:
1. I started out stressed. I was trying to get home from work, feed the kids, find the clothes, make a quick stop to Target (ha!) and everything all within a very short period of time. That energy is contagious.
2. I didn’t feed the kids a real dinner. I didn’t have time. I thought some high protein/yummy snacks that they could eat in the car would be enough. It wasn’t. Hangry is never good for anyone.
3. I didn’t have their outfits ready the night before. If I had done that, I could have bought the missing pieces the night before instead of rushing around and adding more stress and more stops along the way.
4. I stopped at Target on the way and had to say "No" a lot. I did buy them a small toy before the session, but that was all they could think about and when they couldn't play with it yet, they were upset. Material motivation doesn’t work on my kids anyway- what was I thinking?
5. I lost my cool. Sure, it changed the tone for the rest of the evening, but it never should have gotten to that point. I should have been prepared.
So, you have a family photo session coming up- what do you to avoid chaos? Some simple things I can think of are listed below.
Be sure to consider nap times, meals, and how organized you are. If you're as organized as I am, prepare a week in advance. (i'm not organized at all. I've tried my whole life. It's just not happening )
Have outfits planned and laid out in advance
Bring snacks, but sure they’re not hungry on the way there. Choose snacks that do not have dye or chocolate in them. If you're ok with using treats to motivate during the session, marshmallows are a great choice.
Have wipes on hand for runny noses, snack crumbs, etc.
Dress the littles when you get there to avoid them drooling/spitting up/spilling on their clothes.
Keep your expectations in check and relax. You will probably love those crying/frowning/serious photos. Maybe not at the moment, but when you look back you will laugh and think about how funny they were at that age.
Hire a photographer that you trust and feel comfortable handing over control of the session to.
Do not threaten or discipline your kids during the session. Even if your kids are on their worst behavior, I guarantee we are not judging you.
Instead of trying to get them to look or smile if they're being difficult, just play with them or do something silly and unexpected. As your photographer, that is usually when I let them have a break and maybe focus on other family members. Just be ready for that camera to click. You never know when that kid is going to give us a moment to capture.
*It’s usually while you’re not ready *
With fall photo season in full effect, I hope these tips are helpful for you! If you have any other good ones, leave them below :) Thank you Kim of Kimberly Diane Photography for all of the patience and gorgeous photos!