Cranky kids before your session? Don’t worry! | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

The first thing I usually hear from parents at a photo session is an update of their kids current behavior. Something like “She is having a really off day,” or “He just woke up from his nap,” or “They are really shy with new people.” 

Mommas, I get it. We put all this energy into coordinating everyone’s outfits, keeping hair out of their faces, making sure they are fed, and SOMEHOW a miracle happened and you made it to the session on time (or 5-10 minutes late). Then you get to the session and the kids will not behave. They won’t cooperate and want nothing to do with listening. 

I totally understand the frustration that comes from this. Let’s move past it quickly and focus on making this experience fun and light. Dwelling on the bad behavior only encourages it to continue. 

I know you also might be thinking “Great! All my photos are going to come out horrible. Why did I pay for this?”. However, you would be surprised. With a few techniques and gentle parenting, I promise the session won’t be a waste. Instead of forcing them to do something they don’t want to do (we all know that just ends in more tears), let’s try this:

1. Be Together.
I’ll point out a quiet spot for you and the child to sit together. You are on eye level which makes them feel understood and you both can connect. Tell them a funny story about when they were a baby. Or show them a video on your phone that makes them laugh. Be gentle. Don’t dwell on the bad, focus on the good.  

2. Play Pretend.
“Now let’s pretend to be lions roaring as loud as we can!” - queue everyone yelling and then LAUGHING. Sometimes its better to have the parents direct the pretending. You know your kid best and what they like to do. Feel free to use me as part of the story too. “Ok kids, pretend the photographer is a giant beetle (I hate spiders, so omit those please) coming to eat us!”. I’ll totally play along. 

3. Everybody Move!
I promise this always works. You tell a kid to run to the tree and back, spin around in circles or chase his brother, they will happily do it. Something about getting their energy out and forgetting the thing that was making them upset.

4. When All Else Fails: Bribery.

This is my last resort but sometimes is necessary. Your family sessions don’t happen everyday and you want to make the most out of it. If the child just really needs that extra push then make the move. I suggest doing something like going out for ice cream or their favorite playground after the session. But you keep it a secret and use only if things go south during your photo shoot, or as a reward if things are going really well. 

Lastly, just take a deep breath. When the kids are not acting the way we would like, you might be surprised by how many photos you will still love from the session. In a few years you will look back and remember the day and laugh. So why not laugh during the session too! You got this parents!

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