Taking the ‘Hell’ out of Family Pictures

Recently, a picture has been circling the web of three children crying (probably screaming) during their family photo shoot.

Children crying during pictures

It’s obviously a funny picture because of the irony that they are holding up the word joy.  To any parent though, it’s just a reality.  Taking family pictures is HELL.  No which way around it.  The younger the kids are, the harder it is.  The more kids in the pictures the harder it is.  And if you, the parents are in it….well bring a bottle of aspirin and some liquor with you (just kidding…. kind of).  With 3 children ages 6 months-5 and having taken pictures at every milestone age, I have learned a few tricks along the way to de-stress the picture taking experience.

10 Tips To Make Family Pictures Less Stressful:

  1. Set a budget beforehand.  Some of these places operate like car dealerships.  No matter what you walk out with, you will feel like you didn’t get what you wanted and you used your child’s college fund to pay for it.  If  you know exactly how many poses you want, how many pictures you want of each child, and exactly what you want to spend, write it down on a paper and take it with you.   These places are good at making you feel like you have to buy every pose, so stand your ground!
  2. Bring Snacks.  It doesn’t matter if your child just ate the biggest feast of his/her life right before the pictures.  Kids have a knack for getting hungry at the most inopportune times.  Also, pack wise snacks such as pretzels and things that wont stain.
  3. Don’t go during nap times.  Those are usually the most open times, and there is a reason for that.  Children,  like adults, need their beauty rest.
  4. Make sure the place you go to uses smart photographers and cameras with  fast shutter speeds.  It sounds like a no-brainer but there are plenty of places I have been to where the photographer gets your kid to smile, and then takes another couple of minutes to go get the camera, fiddle with it and then take the picture.  By which time your child has already left the studio floor and found chocolate to smear on his clothes.  Do research beforehand and read reviews.
  5. Call before you go to find out how they coordinate the picture taking.  Are they open to your suggestions of seating placement?  Will there be a changing room at the studio?  Can you choose the photographer?  Do they start when you arrive, or will there be a long wait?  Do you receive pictures the day of, and if so how long is the wait for that?  Find out as much as you can so that both you and your children can be best prepared.
  6. Give your older children the “task” of helping get the younger children to smile and sit still.  I swear it works.  Not only does it make your older children feel important, but the younger children generally look up to the older ones and are more likely going to listen to them.
  7. Wear a lot of deodorant.  Because, yes, this wonderful family time will cause you to sweat bullets!
  8. Bring a reward chart for your kids.  Make a little sticker chart that you have out while pictures are being taken.  Let your child know every time they do something good and give him/her a sticker for it.  Positive Reinforcement goes a long way!
  9. Try to coordinate the order of pictures with your fussiest child going first, and your most patient child last.
    You want to make sure you get a good picture of your child who just can’t seem to sit still- and the prime time to do that is upon arrival.
  10. Finally, proudly display the best picture from the day on your wall at home so when people come over, they can comment on how lovely and well behaved your children are!  This will also help you forget how awful the experience was guaranteeing you will book your next session soon!

When your child does start acting up, keep calm.  The only thing a parent’s nervousness does, is escalate the situation more negatively.  Remember that your child is bored, not having fun and is a child- it’ll all be over soon!  Feel free to leave a comment about your family picture experiences!

Here is a picture of my kids from our last shoot (note the smiles):

Happy Kids Photo

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. memyselfandkids
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 17:14:58

    I’d be happy if the kids looked in the right direction – smiling is a bonus.


  2. Naomi
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 23:23:37

    Really, really good advice! Love the one about setting a budget before hand. And the shutter speed one. Been in that situation before. One more thing to add to the list: Don’t force the kids to smile. Sometimes pictures with natural expressions are the best and it takes pressure off of the kids.


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