* Let the kids know about the shoot well in advance. Start talking to your kids about the shoot a week in advance to get them comfortable with the idea. Let them know your expectations of their behavior, but more importantly talk it up to make it sound like a fun and special occasion for the family – because it is!
* Make sure everyone is happily fed. Every parent knows the importance of having snacks on hand for the kids, but also make sure the parents aren’t hungry, either. Full tummies mean happier people, and better photos. Always.
* Dress for the weather – and comfort! That new dress you got may look great, but if you’re freezing it’ll make the shoot much more difficult. This is twice as important for the kiddos – make sure children are dressed cute, of course, but it is more important that they are warm and comfortable. Sometime it takes kids a little bit to get used to new clothes so if you buy a special outfit for the shoot, make sure to break it in at least once.
* Bribery is definitely ok. Yeah, yeah, you’re not supposed to rely on bribes to get your kids to behave. All parents know this, but all parents know that sometime it’s OK – photo shoots are one of these times. Candy and treats aren’t always the best idea, but planning a special outing after the shoot can be a great incentive for good behavior. Photo shoots should be scheduled in the late afternoon for the best light, so promising the kids a trip to the movies or going out for pizza after can work wonders.
* Don’t just focus on the final product; enjoy the experience. Yes, photo shoots can be stressful, especially for mom, but instead of worrying if the resulting photos will be perfect, embrace that life ISN’T perfect and just have fun. Great photos are reflective of your life exactly at the time they’re taken. If your oldest won’t stop running around, or the baby won’t stop drooling, or the dog won’t sit still – that’s OK because that chaos is your life, and your life is beautiful. Enjoy the shoot as a time to fully embrace how crazy, fun, and wonderful family life can be.