Indianapolis Family Photographer | Preparing Kids for a Session
It’s that time of year again… the time when the sun stays out later, the days are longer, and your photographer wants to schedule your family session at golden hour…. past your kids bedtime. So now what?
First of all, check with your photographer – be open and up front. Let them know the ages of your kids and their nap and sleep patterns. See what they recommend! I offer sunrise sessions for families who have an easier time with their kids in the mornings than in the evenings. Some parents would prefer to get up extra early and get ready for their session before the sun is up than worry about changing the kids nap and bedtimes around for their session.
You can still achieve the ‘golden hour’ look, without changing your routine!
The prime ‘golden hour’ look is achieved within 30 minutes of the sun falling below the horizon (or within 30 minutes of it coming above the horizon). For sunset sessions, this is usually the time you are most acclimated to being in front of the camera – you are comfortable, natural, and candid. For sunrise sessions, this is just the beginning of your session so be ready to jump right in!
ADJUST FOR SUNSET
Change naptimes, adjust bedtimes, and allow your kids to stay up a little later. You don’t need to get them on a new schedule for the whole week leading up to the session – keeping them awake a little bit longer during the day may be a bit more stress on you in the moment, but as they nap while leading up to the session you now have peace and quite while you shower and get ready – something that normally wouldn’t happen at all!
Their fussiness in the afternoon will be well worth the beautiful imagery you will achieve from your session and your kids will love the excitement of staying up a little later for a family-photo-shoot-adventure.
Golden hour photos… enough said. Plus that awesome kid-free-shower-time you achieved pre-session.
Daytime fussiness, late-evening-hyperactiveness. The struggle might be real during the day trying to keep them up through/past their normal nap time. Bigger kids may need to take a nap somewhere in the afternoon to keep them up later in the evenings, bringing an additional challenge if they are not used to napping anymore.
PREPARE THE KIDS
Now that you’ve scheduled your session, the only thing left to do is prep the kids! Older kids may be used to having family photo sessions, but for the younger kids who don’t understand, let them be a part of the process. Let them help be a part of putting together their outfit or if they’re horrifically opposed to what you’ve chosen, allow them to bring a clothing article of their choice that they can change into at the end of the session if they do well.
Allow kids to bring along a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or doll – your photographer will LOVE you for this! I encourage my families to bring along something their child loves for a few reasons: 1. it’s comforting to the child and 2. these make for awesome photos and memories.
Snacks! Bring along snacks – not just for bribery (candy/sweets works if bribery is your intent, though) but because it’s a pleasant distraction from posing and sometimes kids just need a break. Goldfish crackers and a drink make for really great candid photos, so it works double duty!
Let them know what they can expect. Is your photographer going to be taking candid or posed photos? Where will the session take place – what will it look like? Kids are really visual and imaginative, if you can help them picture it in advance, they often are more receptive upon arrival.
TIPS & HINTS
Having spent 7+ years working in education and having my teaching credential, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time working with kids of all ages. This isn’t going to be the case with every photographer, so here are a few hints for you photographers out there who don’t have kids of your own and haven’t spent much time working with kids.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF. Don’t become part of STRANGER DANGER! Get on their level, introduce yourself, compliment them. Let them take a peek at your camera (for little ones) and get them interested in what you’re doing.
MAKE IT FUN. Posing is hard. If it’s hard and sometimes uncomfortable for adults, imagine what it’s like for someone who has a hard time doing or understanding what you’re asking of them. Make it easier for them – give them actions they can understand: hug your mom, hold your sister’s hand, twirl around and show me your dress, can you find a black rock for me? Younger kids have shorter attention spans, but their interest in things around them and in showing and telling can work to your advantage.
END STRONG. When I photograph families with kids, we usually end the session, but I’m still there chatting with parents, hanging around. These are the times when some of the best candid/lifestyle images happen. The kids are relaxed, they can be themselves. Schedule your sessions to spend the last 15+ minutes ‘getting dirty’. If the parents allow it, or have even brought a change of clothes, let the kids play in the grass, dig in the mud, and wade in the water. This is a great time to also get some images of the parents together while the kids are playing. Use the child’s natural instincts to your advantage!
Being new to Indianapolis, I have spent the last few months exploring and have some AMAZING locations I cannot wait to use this year. I will be coordinating with my families (and have already started) to prepare them for this last piece as I have a STUNNING location I’m going to be offering this year for families who are unsure of where to shoot. Shhh… can’t share it though, it’s top secret! 😉
casey and her camera is an Indianapolis Family Photographer specializing in family, couple, lifestyle, senior, and wedding photography for Indianapolis, Indiana and the surrounding areas.