Tips to Keep Kids Happy During Family Photos

Tips to Keep Kids Happy During Family Photos

Holding a fussy, uncomfortable baby while posing for family photos isn’t exactly the most enjoyable experience. While the images can be beautiful, they’re often the product of a lot of hard work—for everyone involved.

As much as anything else, family photos are an exercise in patience. Your child will have to sit still long enough for you to get your shot; you’ll have to wait for them to smile, blink naturally and look in the right direction.

Finding ways that reduce your child’s discomfort is essential. You may need to interact with them at a moment when they’d prefer not to be touched or talked to—but by staying patient and focused on keeping them happy, you’ll ultimately be rewarded with happier children and more successful images.

Choose a time of day when your child is at their best.

Photographing your kids at their best is the key to getting great family photos. This means choosing a time of day for your shoot that matches your children’s energy levels and making sure you plan the rest of the day around it.

If your kids are under 3, plan your photoshoot around naptime—that way they’ll be spent by mid-afternoon and ready for bed when you’re done. If you’re photographing older kids, take into account their best times of the day so that you don’t have to worry about crankiness or meltdowns during your shoot.

Keep it fun!

Family photo sessions should be about having fun, so don’t even think of approaching it as some sort of solemn occasion. It’s all about enjoying being with your loved ones and capturing that joy on camera. Some ways to do this include:

  • Let your kids choose the outfits they want to wear
  • Encouraging smiles and laughter with each other and the photographer
  • Having a picnic in the park or a day at the beach during your family photo session

As you and your family prepare for your upcoming photo session, keep these tips in mind! Your photos will look that much better if everyone is relaxed and smiling.

Look for candid moments.

For a more natural-looking shot, look for candid moments. A candid photo is a photograph that is captured without posing or instructions from the photographer.

Candid photos are often unposed and can be a great way to capture a child’s personality and more organic emotions. If you’re wondering how candid photography differs from posed portraits, it’s often easier to capture these unguarded moments because the kids aren’t aware of your camera!

Don’t be afraid to make your session last longer than you planned.

  • If your child is getting tired or cranky, don’t be afraid to take a break.
  • Feel free to do something completely unrelated to the photoshoot like go for a walk, grab some ice cream or even just let your child run around the studio and play with toys.
  • The session doesn’t have to be over just because you’ve been doing it for an hour.
  • Oftentimes giving yourself more time than you think you need means that you wind up not spending as much time photographing as you thought and are able to get a lot done in less time than expected!

Give your child time to warm up to the camera.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a family photo is worth a thousand feelings. When it comes to capturing these moments, you want your child to be happy and feel comfortable as you snap away. The best way to ensure this? Give them time to warm up before the flashing commences!

Kids take time to adjust to new things, so it’s important for them to understand the purpose of the camera and what it’s for. Show them the camera beforehand—let them touch it and look at all of its different parts while you explain how they work. Then let them take some pictures with it so they can see just how easy it is! They may even enjoy taking photos of you, which will make great memories in themselves!

Bring snacks.

If you think your child will be hungry during the photo shoot, it’s a great idea to bring a snack. This could be anything from granola bars to M&M’s; just keep in mind that sticky or chocolatey things may end up on your kid’s outfit, and if they have allergies, bring along something else.

Also keep in mind that if your child is thirsty, they are going to want to drink right away. Around 90% of snacks should be eaten before/after the shoot when there is enough time for them to get a proper drink afterwards. If you do decide to feed them during the photo shoot, make sure you only give them small amounts at first so they stay hydrated without feeling overly full!

Consider an idea that excites your child.

Consider an idea that excites your child. Trains, soccer, riding a bike—whatever it is, getting creative and incorporating ideas that your child loves will keep them excited. If they are afraid of the camera or don’t like to sit still, make sure they have a few toys to play with while you’re snapping photos.

Or if they have a favourite book, bring it along and read it together in order to get some beautiful shots of you interacting with them (and just so the little ones can enjoy their favourite story).

Practice poses in advance.

Practice makes perfect, so have your friends and family practice posing in advance. Try posing in front of a mirror alone, with a friend, or with your family. You can even practice posing with your pet! Taking photos of yourself as you practice will help you get comfortable and get an idea of what angles work best for each person.

Practising poses beforehand will allow you to feel more confident during the photoshoot and be able to enjoy the experience instead of feeling awkward or unsure about how to pose.

Have backup options.

You’re going to want to have plenty of tricks up your sleeve in case the weather turns bad or your child simply loses interest.

Consider keeping a second outfit or two in the car, along with some snacks and treats and backup plans for taking the photos. If your kids are having fun, they’ll be more likely to cooperate, so you may want to plan some games or activities you can do with them before or after the shoot.

Prepare for accidents.

As a photographer, I understand the importance of being prepared. The one thing you really can’t be prepared for is accidents. The fact of the matter is that some kids have small bladders and it just happens.

If your child wets their pants during a photo session, don’t panic or get frustrated (that kind of reaction will show up in the photos even if you think you are hiding it.) Just change them as quickly as possible and carry on with our session. It’s absolutely not a big deal and we will move on without missing a beat!

Follow these tips so family photos sessions go smoothly.

  • Pick a great location that fits your family’s personality and interests. Using a spot that is meaningful to you will help you relax and have fun, which translates into great photos.
  • Make sure the time of day (morning/evening) works for your children as well as the photographer. If your child does better in the morning, schedule an earlier session so he won’t be grumpy or sleepy; mornings are usually best for everyone involved unless your little one is a night owl!
  • Plan ahead for clothing and accessories: If your kids need to wear nice clothes for the photos, make sure their outfits look good together and fit properly on each child (no pinching collars!). Consider bringing a change of clothes to freshen up if needed, and also bring some extra “surprises” like sunglasses or hats just in case they want to change it up!
  • Have snacks available: You know how cranky hungry kids get! Bring small snacks that can give them energy but won’t cause any messes with sticky fingers or melting chocolate on faces… yikes!


We hope these tips will help you get ready for your next family photo session.

Remember, family photos are a way to capture your family’s milestones…and there’s no age limit on that!