Prepping Your Kids For Photo Shoots

November 16, 2017

Today’s blog is all about prepping your kids for family picture day. Now, I know that some people are great at taking pictures and their children never give them a hard time. But with our history of doing family pictures we have had our fair share of issues, and difficulties taking pictures. Especially when Aiden was non-verbal.

Aiden was 2 months old when we took our first family Christmas portrait in a picture studio. There was absolutely no issues taking pictures since Aiden was so small. The next year we decided to return to that same studio since they did such a good job on our photos. All I can say is it was quite interesting as Aiden was a year old, walking, and getting into everything…literally!

When Aiden was 2 years old is when we realized this was our last time working with this same picture studio. As Aiden got older the more his signs of sensory overload showed. If you don’t know about Aiden’s story you can read more about it here My Journey As A Special Needs Mom. Our last photo session with the picture studio was horrible. All Aiden did was cry and scream due to all the noise, action, and lights. It was too overwhelming for Aiden to handle. Due to his meltdowns and outbursts we only accomplished 1 family picture.


That next year I knew I needed to hire a professional photographer who knew about my situation with Aiden. I needed some one who was very patient and who would do an amazing job on our pictures. That’s when a friend of ours mentioned Emily Beade. She was friends with Emily and raved about the pictures she took. When I saw her Facebook page of her work I knew I wanted her to photograph our family. After mentioning to Emily about our situation with Aiden she assured me no matter what she could capture great pictures of our family.

For our first photo shoot with Emily, she came to our home and she set up a plain white backdrop for our photos. Because the white backdrop was a loud white color, it was too over stimulating & overwhelming for Aiden. Once we switched to a black cloth backdrop Aiden was much calmer. Even though dealing with Aiden was very difficult Emily came through on her promise. She was able to capture our family photo.

After working with Emily at our house I knew I wanted her to photograph our family again the next year. Except this time I wanted to do it outside during the Fall season. So, mid October we scheduled our photo session with Emily in Pennsylvania. What was supposed to be a regular photo session ended up being a 3 and a half hour photo shoot. We had such a hard time with Aiden to stay focused outside. All he wanted to do was run and pick certain rocks and throw it in the pond. Emily was calm and patient. What a true photographer should be. Every time a pose would not come out right or the boys wouldn’t sit still, I would always apologize to Emily, and she would always say no need to apologize.

Year after year working with Emily it got easier to work with her…and our boys. They knew who Emily was and she obviously knew who the Balla family were. There was no forgetting us after what we put Emily through just to get pictures! Despite the chaos we went through to take the pictures, Emily always delivered amazing results. I love all my photos that were taken by her. If you live in the Northeast (PA, NJ, NY) area look through Emily Beade’s facebook page to view her work. I promise if you use her you won’t regret it! Photography By Emily Beade

Now that I live in Texas finding a good photographer that is like Emily does not seem to be happening. I plan on investing in a wonderful DSLR camera and edit the photos myself, as I’ve taken some tutorials on Adobe Lightroom.

Here are some tips to help prep your children for your upcoming photo session.

Talk About The Upcoming Session

Keep dropping hints or just casually mention it to your kids 2 weeks before your photo shoot. That way it’s in their brain. The week of the session you keep mentioning it everyday. Ask your kids to practice their smiles in the mirror or ask your kids to show you their smile that way you can work on it with them. The day before your photo shoot remind your kids about your picture session. Make them get excited about their pictures being taken. Ask them who’s excited. I’m sure every mom wants to hear the famous shrieks of “ME!!!”


Another way to get your kids to cooperate is by giving them an inventive. Tell your children if they behave, cooperate, listen to the photographer, and smile nicely, they’ll get a specific toy. Usually, I tell my kids we’ll make a trip to the toy store or children’s consignment store if they cooperate. It helps kids to know that if they learn to obey and control themselves, there are rewards for that kind of behavior.

Bring Candy Or Snacks

Whenever I have a photo session I always bring candy with me. Whenever I feel my boys have had enough and they’re on the brink of whining or have had enough of a certain pose, I whip out my candy bag. I use it as a tool to get them to quickly cooperate to finish the pose they’re tired of doing. When were done with the pose I give the kids the candy as a reward while we move onto a different pose or different scenery part of the park. Only use the candy or snack as a quick incentive in the moment. Try telling your kids, “Hey if you smile nice and big and listen you’ll get this candy!” It works every time for me with my boys.

Have Your Kids Make Angry Faces

Now, before your freak out on me just listen to what I have to say. The reason why I say to have your children make an angry face is because after so much smiling, your kids get tired of smiling. So to help them out tell them to make an angry faces, crack a joke to make them laugh that way the photographer can get a candid shot, then tell them to smile. It worked for us when we did a photo shoot with my friend.

Do Family Shots First!

The very first pictures you want to capture in the beginning of your session are the family shots! Never save it for last, because by the time you’re at the end of your session not only will you be done, but the kids will be done as well. So always ask your photographer to capture your family in the beginning.

Capture Your Kids Pictures Second!

Once you’ve captured your family shots, I highly recommend capturing your children’s photos next. While they’re still fresh looking and not irritated from taking pictures, have your photographer work their magic. That is the time to take individual pictures as well as group pictures of your kids.

When photographing children always start with the baby and work your way up.

Families that have more than 2 or 3 children, I recommend capturing group pictures of the kids first, then go right into individual shots. When you start with individual shots, always start with the youngest member (the baby) and work your way up ending with the oldest child. Babies have a short attention span and normally just want to crawl, walk, or eat whatever they see on the floor. Manny & I used this method this year photographing our 3 boys and I have to say our photo shoot went smooth like whip cream.

During the in between and end of the session can be candid shots or different poses your photographer recommends.

Get The Baby To Look At The Photographer

I know us moms want to have that picture perfect baby looking right into the camera lens smiling. Just like we see in magazines. But in reality it some times doesn’t work to our advantage. My main goal this year was to get Grayson to look into the camera. I didn’t care if he was smiling or not, all I wanted was for him to look at the photographer. The only way to get infants to look at your photographer is by having a loud toy shaking over the photographer’s head, or by using a puppet. My friend Andrea used a puppet to get Grayson’s attention, and there was some crazy loud shouting from mommy too (He looked at me like I was nuts but hey it got him to look at the lens!).

Don’t Stress About It!

As moms we can easily get stressed out about upcoming photo sessions with our family. We go to great lengths to decide a theme, coordinate outfits, and make sure everyone is looking crisp & clean. Don’t yell at your children while you’re at your photo shoot. It only causes tension and stress. I’m guilty of doing that in the past. I promise as the years go by and as your children get older, the easier it is to photograph your kids.

Just remember the reason why you are having a photo session to begin with. These are memories that will last. Memories that you will hang on your living room wall or in the hallway. Or maybe you’re capturing holiday pictures. Whether it be Easter photos, summer photos, fall photos, or Christmas photos for your Christmas cards, you’re doing it for the memories. Capturing the moments when your little buddy or princess was a baby, or was a toddler. Capturing the sweet innocence our children once had when they were small. When you look back at the moments you captured in the past, you’ll be grateful you took the photos when you did.

So when you go to schedule your next photo session do it for your children. Do it for the moment or the phase of life you’re all in. Do it so 20 years from now when you’re sitting on the couch with your grandchildren you can talk and laugh while going down memory lane. A picture is worth a thousand words. Can you imagine what an entire lifetime of photo sessions are worth? I would say… it’s priceless!




Jackie Balla

Jackie Balla

Hi friend! Welcome to my blog! I’m so glad you stopped by to visit. I am a wife and a very busy mom to 3 boys. When I get time I come to my blog and lay out my confessions. I love to share my faith, my wisdom, and knowledge with all you women & mommies out there. But most of all I love to inspire, encourage, and give you the re-fueling you need to finish your job for the day. Always know I am here for you, to cheer you on, and lift you up when you need it. So enjoy the topics, info, recipes, and upcoming devotions!
Jackie Balla

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