Photoshoot Tips (from a Pro, with 4 kids!)


As we gear up for our first season doing shoots in Maryland, I thought it would be a great idea to post some tips and tricks to help prepare you for photoshoots. Here’s my ten rules for a great photoshoot

  1. Communicate with your photographer. He or she wants you to enjoy your shoot and wants to give you exactly what you envisioned for your family photos. Outside of “Make my teenager look like she loves me!” I am happy and able to accommodate most all requests! If you are with me for a photoshoot and are new to the Cherry Lane family, I want you to enjoy your photos and I want you to keep coming back each year! Do not be shy about a certain pose or idea you have, either as you approach your photoshoot or during your session!
  2. Pre-plan your outfits the night before (at the very least!) and have them ALL set aside in a safe place so nothing gets misplaced when you are getting ready, especially if you have little ones who tend to get into everything or misplace their things! This will save a lot of frustration on the day of, so there is no rushing around looking for Jenny’s coordinating tights or hair bow!
  3. When coordinating a families outfits, choose the family member that will be the hardest to find an outfit for and start there! If you have a baby or teen girl, those are usually my “go to” for suggestions on where to start! Babies clothing can be limited and teen girls are…well…teen girls! (read:can be difficult!) For my own photos and as a suggestion I start with one outfit and build from there. When it comes to color scheme, pick ONE central color and one or two coordinating colors for variation. For specific color schemes that I love, click on the Pinterest icon above and view some great color schemes on my “Coordinating the Family Photo” board.
  4. Get dressed and BE READY a half hour before having to leave for the venue. Dress yourself first and the babies last. This ensure you have time for that last minute diaper change for your little one or time to argue with your 9 year old on his or her choice of shoes or to scream, at least ten times “EVERYONE GET IN THE CAR!!” Because everyone seems to loose complete sense of direction or focus when you are trying to get somewhere on time! And because this is real life and one of 10,000 different things could happen the slow everyone down- including your toddler throwing a temper tantrum over the idea of underwear.
  5. Eat within an hour of the shoot, especially if you have little ones! Do not bring them to get their photos done hungry! It just will NOT go well! Bring a snack in the car that is packed with protein. Cheese sticks or other solid foods that are not messy and will keep them full are great options!
  6. Bring Rewards!!! Kids, both young and small are always happy when they have a little incentive. Things like Cherrios, Gerber Puffs and Teddy Grahams, are all great for incentives. They are small enough to give one at a time, beg for a smile and do it again. And Again. And as many times as necessary! Stay away from chocolates, m&m’s and any other candy item. Most candies have dyes and they will run right down their face and onto their outfits. Stick with hard, chewable foods your child loves and he or she will happily oblige you with a smile! If you have older children, ice cream or some Frozen Yogurt are great ways to put some big smiles, on their pretty little mugs.
  7. Do not threaten children in order to get good photos. Honestly, Ive seen it happen and heard the thunderous words spoken from a Mom or Dad when a child is just not feeling the photoshoot. It never ends well and the only thing you will think about when you look back on those photos, is the fight you had, just to get them to smile. Your job is to have them there, dressed and ready. MY job is to make them smile! I’ve got plenty of tools up my sleeve- and I’m not afraid to use them!
  8. Just keep looking at the camera! If you have little ones, literally just KEEP SMILING AT THE LENS. I can’t tell you how many times I will have THE PERFECT SHOT. The kids are smiling naturally and looking right at the lens, but mom is giving the teenager side eye or Dad’s eyes are down on the toddler in his lap that is picking her nose! Its my job to get their attention and when the moment is right and I have their attention, I want to be sure I don’t have to worry about anyone over the age of 12 looking at the lens!
  9. Don’t talk! I know that completely goes against me saying to communicate, but if you hear me encouraging your child to look at me and smile and you chime in, the child will often get overwhelmed and feel overpowered and not cooperate. Talk in between poses and encourage your child. “Your hair is so pretty today”, “Wow you did a great job on brushing your teeth, they are SOO sparkly, can you show the camera- I bet you will blind her!!” (thats usually toddler boys favorite!), “I know you don’t want to be here and photos are the last thing you want to do, but I am so proud of your good attitude and willingness to do something that is important to me!” (ahem, teenagers!). Even if its NOT going well, or perfect like you imagined and someone isn’t cooperating, speaking positive words can honestly change the course of the shoot and the attitudes of everyone involved.
  10. Have fun! Don’t stress! Even if we DONT get every picture we wanted or struggled through the shoot with a little (or big) one, believe me when I say, it will be OK! I have four kids. I have seen IT ALL and there is no amount of meltdowns or time-outs (that need to be taken to regroup), that will stress me out! I am excited to capture memories for you of your family and I enjoy the challenge that comes with family portraits! It is so rewarding when I get to deliver photos that my families are excited about. And if we don’t get a perfect shot. Thats what photoshop is for. 🙂


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