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Maternity, Newborn, &
Family photography

Serving Columbia, SC & the surrounding areas

Hey, I’m Nicole!

Columbia, SC Newborn, Maternity, & Family Photographer

I’m a sentimental mom of two with a heart for helping moms like you have a stress-free photography experience. I’m here to help you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera and capture beautiful photos to tell the story of this season of life.

How to Prepare Children for a Successful Family Photo Session

Our perfectly coordinated outfits — selected piece by piece over several months — were washed and pressed and hung neatly on their hangers. We had hired a photographer whose work we loved. Our family photo session was scheduled at a beautiful location during golden hour (aka, the most beautiful light of the day). Perhaps the most important piece of our preparation, though, was doing everything we could to make sure our toddler knew what to expect on the day of our session!
As anyone who has experience with children knows, little ones are notoriously unpredictable. Even though hiring a photographer with experience working with families can keep the session running smoothly when those unpredictable moments arise, it’s equally important to take some steps in the days before your session to make sure your kiddos know what to expect!

Here are some of the things my husband and I did to help prepare our toddler for our family photos that you can do before your next family photo session!

1. Tell them what to expect

Ever since our son was about six months old, we’ve made it a habit to talk to him and explain what’s going to happen before any new experience. Even though he might not understand everything we’re saying, we know that children understand spoken language well before they can verbally respond to what we say, so we think it’s a good habit to start now! 

In the weeks before our session, we made sure to mention the pictures frequently, explaining exactly what to expect when the big day arrived! Here’s an example of how a conversation before our photo session might have gone:

“This weekend, we are going to do something fun as a family! You and mommy and daddy are all going to get dressed up in these nice outfits, and then we will go to a new park and one of mommy’s friends will be there to take our pictures! Her name is Ms. Sharon, and she has a camera just like I do! She will show you some of the pictures on her camera, too, just like when mommy takes your picture!”

2. Keep it positive!

In addition to talking up our family photo session as something that would be fun, we also were intentional about setting positive expectations for how our son would participate in the photo session! I know from my years in the classroom that children respond so much better when you tell them what you do want them to do rather than what you don’t want them to do. For example, we would say something like, “Since you are such a big boy, we know you are going to be a GREAT listener when Ms. Sharon tells you what she wants you to do for our pictures!” Then, if we needed to re-direct him during the session, we could say, “Remember how we talked about being a good listener? Show us how you can do that!” It’s not always foolproof, but I promise it can make a huge difference! 🙂

3. Make sure they are fed and well-rested

Our family session was scheduled during the sunset golden hour, which is truly a time for the best and most beautiful light, but it also runs right into dinner time! A hangry kiddo is not likely to be very happy and cooperative during photos, so we made sure that our son had a light meal just before we left! We also packed plenty of snacks and water, just in case!

With a session scheduled at the end of the day, we also tried really hard to make sure that he had a good, long nap. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, he decided he did not need a nap that day, but instead of stressing about it, we accepted it for what it was and tried to make the best of the situation!

4. Bring another adult along

Something that I always recommend to my own clients is having another adult — a relative, babysitter, or friend of the family who their children know well — accompany them to the session. This way, if a little one needs a break at any point during the session, there’s someone else there who they can hang out with for a few minutes to reset!

During our photo session this past weekend, this was truly the “behind the scenes” piece that saved the day! Our photographer, Sharon, was so amazing and positive and patient, but in spite of all our good preparation, our son was… not the most willing participant. I was so grateful that we had asked my mom to come along with us for this very reason! While the kiddo was off taking breaks with Gramma, my husband and I were able to use that time to snag tons of gorgeous photos of just the two of us and then bring him back in for more family photos when he was ready!

5. Let them be little

If there’s anything I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that sometimes things don’t go the way I had hoped they would no matter how well I prepareThis year, the “behind the scenes” of our session looked a little chaotic. Our son was much more interested in running down the paths, looking at the ducks, asking to get in the water, and checking out all the rocks and sticks than he was posing for photos! But… that’s okay, and totally normal for someone of his age! These photos are a representation of this time in our family’s life, and I know that the pictures we did get with our sweet boy will always remind me of his curious, adventurous nature!

I hope these tips will help you the next time you’re preparing your little ones for a family photo session! Be sure to check out 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Photographer for Your Family Photos, too!

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