How to Prepare Your Children for Your Family Photo Session

Do you ever ever worry about how to prepare your child for a photo session? As a Bay Area family photographer and past elementary classroom assistant teacher, I have a lot of experience working with children. This experience has helped me develop patience and learn creative techniques to better work with them. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for documenting the beauty and essence of family connections, I am here to support you and your family in making the most of your family photo session and that includes helping you prepare ahead of time!

Family photos are an important way to document the milestones and memories of your family. However, many parents understandably get a little stressed out thinking about how they’re going to prepare their child(ren) for the photo session. “My child is shy, they might not want to smile for the photos. What if my child throws a tantrum during the session?” Fortunately my family photo sessions are much more natural and relaxed with play and imagination highly encouraged  – they’re meant to feel more like a fun family adventure rather than a stiff, overly posted photo session. In order to best prepare your children (and yourself!) for the best family photo experience possible, I put together a list of tips to help you prepare your kids for an outdoor family photo session.

  1. Don’t make a big deal about the photo session and don’t spring it on them last minute. Be sure to let them know with plenty of time in advance and phrase it as a fun family adventure with our friend Skyler taking photos. Keep it fun and casual. Your children will likely look forward to the session.
  1. Dress your child comfortably. Make sure they’re in walkable shoes and can easily move around. If your child isn’t keen on wearing what you pick out for them, I recommend selecting two to three outfits and allowing your child to choose from those options. This helps your child feel like they have more of a choice in the matter and that you’re not just doing it for them.
  1. Bring a change of clothes, too. I encourage my families to get kind of dirty or wet during their photoshoots. (Sand castles, anyone?) The kids love it and it brings a lot of energy and authenticity to your images. Having a nice set of dry clothes to change into after the session can be nice. Maybe even bring a towel just in case?
  1. Bring protein-filled  snacks! Kids are growing and frequently hungry. Things such as baked egg bites, trail mix, pinwheels, or a peanut butter and banana sandwich are all great options. Make sure they’re well-fed beforehand and pack snacks to bring with you to the photo session. (Snack time is always welcome at my family photo sessions!)
  1. Don’t tell your child to smile. I know you’re probably hoping for that *perfect* family photo. But honestly, forced smiles aren’t really my jam and you can tell when they’re not genuine. Instead I suggest tickling your child, making silly noises in their ear, acting silly, and simply doing anything you would normally do at home to get a laugh or smile out of them!
  1. If time permits, plan something fun for after the session! (Ice cream, anyone?) Having something fun planned for after the session helps ensure that your child(ren) is looking forward to the photoshoot all day!
  1. Let loose and don’t take yourself too seriously! Your children can pick up on your attitude so it’s important to try your best to relax and have a good time. If you’re having a good time, chances are good that your kiddos are, too!

Preparing your kids for an outdoor family photo session doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. By following these tips, you can ensure that your family is comfortable, relaxed, and ready to have fun. Remember to keep it casual, dress your child comfortably, bring a change of clothes, pack some snacks, and most importantly, have fun!

With love and gratitude,


If you found this article helpful, you may also love:

What to Expect at your Outdoor Family Photo Session

What to Wear for Outdoor Family Photos

Reasons to Book a Winter Photo Shoot

how to prepare your child for your family photo session, bay area family photographer

April 25, 2023

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