Tips to relax at your family portrait session

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Hello everyone, I was so excited to be invited by Kristen to participate in this family photo series! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Rebecca Cooper. I’m a professional photographer, mom of four and avid blogger. I enjoy sharing photo tips, craft ideas and details about our family adventures on my blog Simple as That.

There’s been some really great tips and suggestions shared so far on how to have a successful family photo session and I hope to add a few tidbits about keeping things fun and relaxed during your session.

When getting family photos taken you need to have a plan – what you’re going to wear, poses you’d like to use, location etc, but being flexible and not set your expectations too high can save the day and help to avoid frustration. Make your next family photo session less about getting the perfect shot and more about the moment, eachother and the thought of what memories will be triggered by these photos years down the road. 

Letting go of expectations will take a little bit of the pressure off and help everyone to relax and just enjoy the time together as a family. The perfect family photo may not necessarily be the one you envision. Open your mind, relax, have fun with it & the photos will reflect a lovely memory of time spent together. If you are relaxed, your children will be too. 

Remember to be silly, play, laugh and let go. Make your family photo session a fun event, something to look forward to. Bring silly props – think fake mustachesfunky glassesballoons or even some bubble gum for a bubble blowing contest. Not only do they look cute in photos, props also serve a very useful purpose. They keep little hands busy, fill in time while siblings are being photographed and help to draw out smiles and genuine interactions. Whatever you can do to ensure that your photo session is an event to anticipated, not dreaded is going to help make it fun and will even help set the stage for next years photos!

Involve the whole family. Ok, that might sound funny, it is family photos afterall, but inviting everyone’s input (especially children’s) as far as clothing choices, poses and other ideas, helps everyone feel like the photo session is a team effort – not just something they’re doing because mom and dad said they had to. 😉 Let each family member take a turn arranging the family how they’d like to see them photographed. Watch out, this could get a little silly. 🙂 When children are given some creative control and allowed to share their input they are so much more cooperative when it comes to taking photos mom and dad or the photographer would like.

Another thing I like to do with my kids when we’re taking photos is to play photo games. These are games to play during your photo session to help everyone relax, have fun and get those natural smiles! Here’s a couple of games my family enjoys…

Photo game #1: What can you do?

This game works well with younger children (think older babies and toddlers). Little kids are always so eager to show you the things they know and can do all by themselves. Be sure to offer lots of praise and make a big deal out of what they’ve done. Instead of saying, “Okay, now sit on this chair,” ask “Can you climb up on this chair all by yourself?” It makes all the difference in your younger child’s willingness to cooperate and enjoy themselves during photos. My daughter Alivia is SO into counting right now. Counting to five is her newest toddler skill, and she loves to show everyone she can. With a simple “Can you count to five?” she was all smiles.

Photo game #2: Word association

I love this game for older kids. You say a word, and then have the child say the first thing that pops into their head. You might say, “Say the first word that comes into your mind when I say, ‘peanut butter.’” Your child might reply, “Jelly.” Then you say, “Roller coaster.” And she says, “Scary.” And on and on and on. It’s definitely fun to bring in mom and dad and the siblings’ names too.

I hope that some of these tips will help you to have a fun, relaxing family photo session! 

Thanks so much for having me Kristen!

For more photo tips + ideas check out my eBooks from Ella Publishing Co. Inside my eBook Don’t Say Cheese! How to get great, natural photos of your kids. you’ll find more tips for capturing photos of kids including a few more examples of photo games that I use in my photo sessions.

Simple Fixes: Actions for Photoshop and Photoshop ElementsReal.Life.Photography eBook - how to take amazing photos in real-life situations

Thank YOU, Rebecca!  I love the idea of the word association game, as well as having the kids decide on some of the poses, pretty sure my boys would love that, and the process would be fun to have captured, too!  I also love the title of the book, Don’t say Cheese–sounds like many nuggets of info inside!  Come back tomorrow to get ideas on Decorating your home with the portraits taken.

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