Tips for Photos with Kids

Whether you have booked your family photo session, or are merely thinking about booking a session soon, I have a few tips for photos with kids that I like to share with clients before their session. We all want those cute family photos where your adorable child is content, and their personality is the forefront of photos.  We also want our photos with a beaming smile, or expression of genuine happiness, right?

Well, the secret to that success may not be what you think!  As a parent myself, typically do not have any behavior expectations for children during their photo session.  I do not expect children to “perform” for me.  Every photo session has a bit of an arc to it, often beginning with children a little shy at first, especially if they are under two, or if they are only meeting me for the first time.  We take a little time to warm up to eachother in the parking lot, walking to our initial photo spot.  By the end of your session, the kids are happy to play while they have their photos taken, and sometimes by the end, kids don’t want to leave. Lots of my repeat clients have children who begin their session by running up for a hug.

Fall Mini Session Thumbnail, Jamie Romaezi Photography

Tips for Photos with kids:

Arrive early, photo ready from bows to toes.


Arrive Early – Plan to be at least 5 minutes early for your session.


The suggestion to arrive early may seem like a no brainer, but really it is multi-faceted.  It is so easy for something to put you behind for your session.  If you arrive with plenty of time before your session, it really sets the stage for a relaxing and laid back session for your entire family.  Most children are not ready to be photographed as soon as they arrive for photos and need a minute to warm up. It is suggested that you arrive at least 5 minutes ahead of your scheduled session time to allow everyone to get settled in. Kids need time to transition.  More than 5 minutes couldn’t hurt just to give everyone time to get out of the car and grab everything they need without feeling rushed or stressed.

Do you have a nap skipper, or a car napper? They could be transitioning naps, teething, or just simply because it’s a Saturday.  If you plan a nap for your kid and they do not sleep, expect that they will fall asleep in the car on the way to your session.  I see it so often. Arrive 20 minutes early to give your car napper time to wake up, it will help them significantly. 


Photo Ready – The whole family should be as dressed as possible before they get in the car to head to your session.

Arrive photo ready to maximize your session time.  I totally get it if your kid is still in a phase where they spit up, need to snack in the car, or even gets next-level car sick.  We don’t want them to make a mess of their new outfits.  Simply do your best.  If hair is to be styled but you are worried a clip will be pulled out in the car, style it, spray it, and we can take a minute to fix that clip, as opposed to 5-10 minutes of styling when you arrive. Kids with long hair photograph best when their hair is styled back and off of their face.  Braids are my own personal favorite.  If you need to take a few preventative measures and dress your kids when you arrive, that is OK too.  I recommend that you add at least 5 minutes per kid of prep time for their outfits, and hair individually. Since sessions start and end at their specified time, make sure you are all as ready as possible before your session is scheduled to begin.


Bows to Toes – Think about all of the details! This includes hair clips, nail polish, temporary tattoos that your kid put on 3 days ago, etc.

As you plan for your session with your children, do your best to think through the little details from head to toe, or as I sometimes say, from bows to toes.  Think through the little things, before your session too.  Does anyone have temporary tattoos that will be visible and you want to remove before your session (olive oil will do the trick, by the way!) If anyone is wearing nail polish, does it look freshly painted?  Are all outfits weather appropriate?  Plan for layers, just in case. If you expected a nice spring day, but weather predictions dropped 10 degrees, leggings, a cute sweater, under shirts, and extra socks can all help add warmth but stick with the cute outfit you initially planned.  Growing feet can be hard to style for. Please make sure your kids shoes fit them properly for their photos.  For outdoor sessions, especially, we do a little walking to give your gallery variety and comfortable kids are happy kids.

Cherry Blossom Toddler Photo<br />

A Few Extra Notes:

This is definitely the “last but not least” section. Please don’t worry about your child’s behavior during your session.  We are here to let them play and it is their time to lead the way a little.  I work with kids often and pull in a little fun here and there to let your kids sparkle.  If they are being a little too silly, often that also comes with a smile.  It only takes me about 1/200th of a session to catch the photo I’m after.  These photos are not just about the kids, after all!  You are in the photos too, so if you are pointing at me for your kids to smile, or talking to your kids to tell them to smile, guess what!  That will be in the photo.  Often it is best stand in the photo as you wish to be photographed, let your little ones be themselves, and I’ll work my magic to the best of my ability.

I know we all desperately want smiley photos of your family and children and are all willing to work hard to earn them.  Please remember that if you are standing off to the side calling for your child to smile at you, they will not be looking at me, or the camera.  This can also be overstimulating for your child if mom, dad, and the photographer are all trying to get their attention.  I do ask that mom and dad first give me the opportunity to interact with their child before making smile attempts.  If help is needed to help earn a smile from your child, I will ask that you stand directly over my shoulder so that the child is looking near the camera.

The End.

Yes, I am that level corny and could not help myself.  Pictured directly above is a toddler who did not nap as her parents planned, and woke up in the car just before her session. Simply put, she wasn’t having it that day.  The second, smiley photo on this page is from her rescheduled session the next day where she did indeed nap.

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