When it comes to capturing those fleeting moments with your little ones, understanding their world is key. Children thrive in environments that resonate with their innate sense of curiosity and playfulness. So, let’s dive into how we can channel this energy for a memorable family photo session! Here’s an Edmonton family photographer’s guide to playful family photo sessions.

Plan Your Photography Session Around Your Kid’s Schedules

Timing is everything. Opt for moments in the day when your child is most alert and cheerful, usually post-nap or after breakfast. A happy child is more likely to engage and cooperate.

This might not always line up with that revered Golden Hour time slot! That’s okay!

While the golden hour—with its soft, warm hues—has gained immense popularity and has almost become synonymous with “perfect lighting,” it’s essential to realize that it’s not the sole determinant of a successful shoot.

As an Edmonton family photographer

The Ultimate Family Photo Session Survival Kit

When preparing for a family photo session, especially with young kids in tow, having a well-packed bag can be your secret weapon. Think of it as your session’s survival kit. Start with bite-sized, non-messy snacks that are easy for little hands to grab. Favorites like crackers, cheese cubes, or fruit slices can keep energy levels up and prevent any hangry meltdowns. Remember to include drinks, preferably water, to keep everyone hydrated, especially during warmer days or longer sessions. These quick treats serve a dual purpose: they can be used as a timely distraction when patience starts to wane or as a reward system to praise and encourage cooperation during the shoot. Packing smart means being prepared for those unpredictable moments, ensuring that your photo session runs smoothly and remains a positive experience for all.

Set the Stage with a Pre-Session Chat

Children are naturally curious and thrive on understanding their surroundings and upcoming events. This is especially true for events that directly involve them, such as a family photo session. To make the most of this, initiate a conversation with them a few days before the scheduled shoot. Share details in a way that appeals to their imagination, perhaps by describing it as a fun adventure where they can showcase their favourite poses or wear a special outfit. You can even involve them in the planning process, like choosing a prop or suggesting a pose they’d like to try.

Building this excitement not only helps in setting positive expectations but also gives them a sense of involvement and agency. When children feel included and informed, they’re more likely to engage enthusiastically and cooperate on the day of the session. This proactive approach ensures a smoother experience and paves the way for genuine, joyful moments captured on camera.

Location, Location, Location!

One of the most impactful decisions when planning a family photo session is selecting the right environment, especially when children are part of the picture.

Locations that serve as natural playgrounds are ideal choices, allowing for a harmonious blend of candid play and structured shots. Parks, for instance, offer diverse backdrops—from lush greenery to rustic benches—and the added advantage of playground equipment, which can be used for candid captures.

Beaches provide a vast expanse of sand and water, creating opportunities for spontaneous moments, be it building sandcastles, chasing waves, or simply enjoying the serene ambiance.

Sometimes, the best location for your portrait session might be at home!

Imagine capturing your children in their favourite play spot, where they’ve let their imaginations run wild countless times. Or perhaps the living room, where family movie nights, game evenings, and spontaneous dance parties have taken place. The kitchen might be where you’ve had heart-to-heart chats over breakfast or baked cookies on rainy days.

These everyday scenarios might seem mundane now, but through the lens of a photographer, they can transform into poignant snapshots of your family’s unique dynamics.

Download a list of Janelle’s favourite Edmonton family photo locations.

Stylish Yet Comfy: Dressing Your Kids for a Picture-Perfect Session

When it comes to family photo sessions, every parent wants their child to look their absolute best. Often, this means reaching for those fancy outfits that are worn on rare occasions. However, while these outfits might look stunning, they may not always offer the comfort that kids need, especially during a prolonged photo shoot.

An uncomfortable child can quickly become a restless and unhappy one, leading to challenges in capturing those perfect shots. Instead, think about blending style with comfort.

Opt for outfits that are both chic and cozy. Soft fabrics, elastic waistbands, or loose-fitting dresses can be both fashionable and comfortable. To elevate the look, incorporate fun accessories such as trendy hats, colorful scarves, or even playful jewelry for older kids. These additions can infuse personality and flair into their ensemble without compromising their comfort.

Remember, when kids feel good in what they’re wearing, it shines through in photos, making every shot genuinely picture-perfect.

Props Aren’t Just for Professionals

Every child has that one cherished toy or a beloved book that they cling to during their formative years. These items, often worn out from love and constant use, aren’t just mere playthings or bedtime stories. They offer a comforting familiarity, a piece of home, and represent a unique chapter in a child’s life. Incorporating these treasured keepsakes into a photo session can be transformative.

Embrace Play and Spontaneity

Instead of asking kids to merely “stand and smile,” why not ignite a game of tag or suggest a playful race? These activities not only help in burning off excess energy but also bring out those genuine bursts of laughter and joy. A tickle fight between siblings or parents can produce heartwarming interactions, showcasing the intimate bonds within the family. Even simple actions like twirling, jumping, or making silly faces can introduce dynamism to the photographs.

The beauty of these playful activities is the spontaneity they bring. Children become engrossed in the moment, forgetting about the camera, which allows for the capture of raw emotions and genuine expressions. By shifting the focus from traditional posing to playful interactions, photographers can ensure that every shot resonates with authenticity, capturing the true essence of family bonds.

Trust in Your Photographer’s Magic

These photographers have seen it all – from the shy, reticent toddler to the hyperactive preschooler. Over time, they’ve developed an arsenal of techniques – be it a specific tone of voice, a funny quip, or even a whimsical prop – to draw out genuine reactions and smiles from their young subjects. Sometimes, they might use unexpected prompts, like asking a child to imagine their shoes are ticklish or pretending the camera is a shy animal that needs coaxing.

As parents, it’s natural to have your own perceptions and biases about what will work best. Remember your photographer shares the same objective as you: to capture stunning, heartfelt images. By allowing them the creative freedom to interact and guide the session, you pave the way for candid moments and spontaneous reactions, leading to photographs that truly encapsulate the spirit and charm of your child.

Take Five: Pausing and Resetting During Photo Sessions

Taking a short break can work wonders. It might involve a quick snack, a brief walk, a few minutes of play, or just some quiet downtime. These moments of respite allow both the body and mind to rejuvenate. Children get the opportunity to shake off any stress, regain their energy, and approach the session with renewed zest.

Moreover, breaks can also be a chance for parents to regroup and for photographers to reassess and adjust their strategy, if needed. The beauty of photography lies in its ability to adapt and evolve, and sometimes, the most stunning shots come post a well-timed break.

In essence, never underestimate the power of a pause. Embracing the natural ebb and flow of the session ensures not only the well-being of the participants but also optimizes the potential for capturing those truly magical moments.

Cherish the Unplanned Moments

Managing expectations isn’t about resigning to whatever comes your way but more about embracing a broader vision of what a successful photo session looks like. Children, in their unfiltered innocence, have a knack for the unexpected. They might suddenly become fixated with a flower on the ground during an outdoor shoot or decide that their teddy bear absolutely must be in the picture. They might have untied shoelaces, hair that refuses to stay put, or a sudden bout of giggles.

While the instinct might be to steer back to the ‘plan’, sometimes it’s these spontaneous moments that yield the most heartwarming and genuine photographs. That unplanned laughter, the candid capture of curiosity, or even a momentary pout can showcase the diverse facets of a child’s personality.

The goal of any family photo session is to capture the essence and joy of your family. With these playful strategies, not only will you have a collection of beautiful photos, but the entire experience will also be one for the books!