You've picked the photographer, paid your money, spent all that time coordinating outfits and locations, and everything is ready for capturing those perfect family moments on camera.
Except for the three year old who only wants to wear his batman costume, and that twelve year old who is starting to hate anything to do with the clothes you picked out, and the six year old who refuses to look at a camera.
What do you do?
I'm going to give you three simple tips for getting the most out of your photo session when kids just aren't cooperating.
1 - Let the kids be involved in deciding what to wear. If you force them into a shirt they hate, the pictures will reflect how much they hate it. If your child refuses to get out of that batman costume? Let them wear the batman costume! You want these pictures to represent your children, and there's no better way than to let your kids be themselves. They will be much more willing to have their picture taken if they are wearing clothes that they feel great in.
2 - One of the biggest mistakes parents make is teaching their kids to smile on command. Please please PLEASE. I beg you. Don't teach your children to plaster on a smile every time they see a camera. An old photography professor of mine once referred to this as "line 'em up, and shoot 'em dead" photography, and I couldn't agree more with that statement! You don't want pictures of your kids in clothes they hate, with fake smiles (or even worse: real tears), on a day that you put time and money into. Again, let your kids be themselves. You want to look back and remember them as they were, not as you tried to force them to be for a picture.
3 - And this lead me to my final, and most important, tip. As soon as you arrive at the shoot, you are no longer in charge! Turn everything over to your photographer. Chances are you've chosen them because they're good at what they do, so the best thing you can do is sit back and relax. Be yourself, and let your kids be themselves. If they're being difficult, and don't want their picture taken, it will be easier for the photographer to encourage smiles and laughs from them than it will be for you to force or bribe them into a good mood.
And that's it! Three simple things you can do to help your kids be a little happier at the prospect of family pictures.