mariana de albuquerque family photographer paris

As a family photographer Paris, the most common concern parents have when considering a family photography session is: “what if my kid (or toddler) won’t cooperate”?

There are all sorts of behaviors that parents get concerned about. A major meltdown, a spirited toddler running around non-stop, blank stares, saying “no” to every single request the photographer makes, and feeling shy. These are just to name a few.

I wrote this article to share with you some practical things you can do to make the family photography experience more enjoyable for your child. 

And to reassure you that everything is going to be OK! 

mariana de albuquerque family photographer paris

Practical tips from a family photographer Paris to set your family photoshoot up for success before your session

Involve your child in the preparation for your family session

You can take your child shopping for any special clothes or accessories you need for your family session.

When choosing your child’s outfit, offer your child 2-3 options of outfits that meet the “what to wear” suggestions from your photographer. And then let your child choose his or her favorite.

Also, make sure to make a big deal of the outfits your child chose by showing them with enthusiasm to other family members. 

Talk to your child about the experience to get your child excited

I recommend talking to your child often about the session to help your child to anticipate and get excited about the experience. Talk with your toddler about how much fun he or she will have taken photos with the whole family. 

Describe what it looks like to have their portraits taken: a friend taking their pictures; smiling, hugging; playing; spending time together; following directions, such as sitting, and standing still for a moment. 

Bonus tip: it is better to refer to your family photographer as mom’s “friend” as your child will feel safer around a family friend versus a complete stranger. 

Choose a family photographer Paris whose approach is relaxing and stress-free

There are different shooting styles when it comes to family photography.

As a mom of two little children and a photographer, I personally find that the lifestyle or documentary approaches work really well with young children, particularly toddlers. 

This approach focuses on capturing candid and authentic moments between family members. Lifestyle photographers like myself usually suggest some minimal posing. The focus is on capturing the family’s natural expressions, gestures, and movements.

As such, this is a very relaxed and natural approach. 

So, my number 1 advice on what to search for a family photographer is someone who takes (by default) a child-led approach and follows your child’s needs throughout the session. 

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Choose the location with your child in mind

Where will your child feel the most comfortable: running around at a park or being in the comfort of a known space (=your home)?

Home family session

If you have an active toddler who loves to jump, run and explore, then an outdoor family session might be a great option for your family.

Most toddlers have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time.

So, opting for a family session that will naturally let your toddler move around and play during the photoshoot (versus a traditional studio session) will set you up for success. Free movement and play will often lead to candid and natural-looking images.

Outdoor family session

If your child is slow to warm up to new places and people, or he or she is not naturally very physically active, then a family in-home session might be the ideal option for you.

Young children are often most confident and comfortable in familiar surroundings. The comfort and security of their own home can help them feel relaxed and at ease, which can result in more genuine expressions and interactions during an in-home family session.

Plus, toddlers thrive on routine, and at home they are in the midst of their usual routine, surrounded by familiar toys and activities.

You can read more about the practical details on outdoor family sessions and see a recent personal family session in the Marqueyssac Gardens in Dordogne.

Plan the time before and after the photoshoot

It is best not to make any disruptions to your child’s routine in the days leading up to the session. And to ensure your child is well-rested and fed before your session.

I also recommend that you plan a special activity to do with your child after the session.

Suggestions may include going out for ice cream, watching a favorite cartoon, playing a board game, baking a cake, or doing anything special that your child loves to do with you.

Planning a special activity will help your child to feel loved, and connected to you as well as have something exciting to look forward to. 

Ways to help your child during your family session

Remember that your job is to enjoy time with your family (and NOT make your child behave well for the camera)

I know it can be tempting to ask your child to smile for the camera, or to do something specific to get a particular photo you have in mind (or that I’m trying to get).

But the best thing that you can do as a parent is to simply let go of expectations. Simply show up to your session ready to love and be loved.

As a family photographer Paris, I have a wide range of games I use and I’ll try them out as needed. Some tricks will work. And some will fail miserably because each child responds to each direction differently. And that’s OK! There is absolutely no pressure from my side for your child to behave in a certain way.

My main priority during your session is to capture those genuine in-between moments of connection, playfulness, and sometimes chaos. 

mariana de albuquerque family photographer paris

Keep realistic expectations

Try not to expect too much from your child during the session. You want your child to have fun and enjoy spending time with the whole family without feeling pressure about behaving perfectly for the camera. 

Young children are not usually fond of being told to pose or smile. Crying and tantrums are a normal part of working with these tiny people during a photo session, regardless if it is a newborn photography session or a regular family photoshoot. 

So, be ready for those “uncooperative” behaviors. Just keep it calm and joyful. And smile a lot. Your child will follow your lead.

It also might be helpful to have a special lovey or any other source of comfort set aside in case needed. 

Make it fun

Make your family session a fun experience for your child by letting him or her play freely, make silly faces, or enjoy a special treat at some point during the session. Embrace those not-so-perfect moments with humor and playfulness that will allow for moments of true connection.

mariana de albuquerque family photographer paris

Ask your Paris family photographer for breaks if needed

It is OK to take a break during your family session. That means stepping aside with your toddler so he or she has a break away from the camera while the photographer captures other family members.

Taking a break can also mean simply taking time off from portraits (=guided moments). Because I’m trained in documentary photography, I can continue to photograph during this “break”. Instead of posing your child, I can just let your child “be” for a while. Explore, play, and run around. 

In my experience, children LOVE being photographed.

They feel special and seen. It is also a fun and new experience.

What a child, particularly a toddler, doesn’t like is to stand still for a long time, be told what to do, feel “forced” to give a fake smile, being unable to play. So, taking a break from portraits is a great way to get lots of natural images while also putting no pressure on your child. 

Embrace your child’s personality

Is your child spirited or very curious? Is your child bubbly and social?

Or, is your child shy, preferring to hang back and observe before getting involved? Is your child independent, wanting to do things on his or her own? Is your child sensitive to transitions and changes in the environment and routine, requiring a lot of comfort and reassurance?

If you feel concerned about a specific behavior during your session, just ask yourself if that behavior is simply a result of your child’s personality.

Then, simply embrace it.

After all, the main purpose of a lifestyle family session is to capture genuine images that let your child’s personality and family’s unique dynamics shine through in a natural and authentic way. 

What to do next

Are you searching for a maternity, baby or family photographer? If you’re based in Toulouse, Paris, or London, and would like to book a session or ask a question, please visit the contact page to send me a message. If you’d like to see more of my work, I invite you to browse around my website.

You can also read the complete guide to your family photography session in this blog post.