5 tips for a successful family photoshoot with kids | The Hague Photographer

Do you have a Family Session planned soon and are worried how it's gonna go? No worries! Here are my tips for a successful family photoshoot with kids.

I remember when I shot my first Family Session here in The Hague. Before I had only worked with adults (couples sessions, portraits) and was a little worried how it would go with kids. What if they could not be bothered to participate and throw a tantrum? What if they refused to smile or be in the picture at all?

Turns out all these worries were completely unnecessary. In most of the family photoshoots I’ve done so far, either the kids had a lot of fun, tried different poses, were playful and put a smile on the parents faces as well, or the parents did a great job to entertain their kids. Of course, sometimes it take a little more work than other times but all-in all I was super happy with these sessions. One time there was a little boy who really didn’t want to stand or sit with his family for the photos and just enjoy his cookie. So we respected that and I kept taking photos anyway, which they now say are some of their families favorite ones. After all, he did agree to be in one picture of all of them together while there was a little pidgeon that entertained him.

There are a few things that I have learned thorugh the various Family Sessions and that I still keep in mind whenever I have a new booking:

Black white photo of family of four sitting on bench

1. Don’t make too many plans

One thing about family photoshoots that you should keep in mind is that you can never plan it. My photoshoots all take place outside or in people’s homes as I don’t work in studios. The natural, unplanned, candid vibe is exactly what I love so much and go for and that pretty much requires exactly that: no plans. If you work in a studio and have a certain themed photoshoot scheduled you might have some more ideas of what kind of photos you want to take, which props to use etc. But even then – trust me – as soon as there are kids involved you never know what will happen. 

Maybe they hated the clothes you recommended to the family and show up in a Mickey Mouse costume and refuse to get changed. Maybe they don’t want to take a picture together with their sibling, but only alone or with their favorite toy. Or maybe they will love the camera and happily go along wit hall your ideas – it is just impossible to know. As long as you know this and expect that you might have to improvise, you will be fine!

2. Take the time to warm up to each other.

Ideally, I get to know the family a little bit first, have a little chat with the parents as well as the kids, and ask them some things about yourself. You would be surprised how easy it can be to warm up with most people.

During the Winter Mini Sessions I offered last year before Christmas, there was a lot less time for that than with a regular Family Lifestyle Session, however I usually don’t have a hard time connecting also in a short amount of time. If this is more difficult for you I would recommend taking the time before the day of the shoot to message more extensively with mum or dad, ask about the kids’ ages, names and what they are like. Usually parents are more than happy to give these information. This way, when you meet them for the first time you can already address the kids by their names: “Hello, you must be…Nice to meet you!”

If the kids are still very little it can also help to squat down a bit to be on the same height as them. Feel free to ask them how they feel about this photoshoot, whether they mind being on camera and whether there is something in particular they would like to do. You can learn a lot from this little conversation that can make the whole photoshoot a lot easier!

3. Let kids be kids

If you – like me – don’t have any kids yourself and are not around them very often it may take some time to get used to them and understand that they’re not just smaller than adults but also quite different. (I know, this sounds totally obvious, but hear me out!) 

An adult knows they booked a photoshoot, they pay money for i tand they want to get the best possible result out of it. A kid does not care about this. They just want to have fun and play with their siblings, parents or pet. Let them! The most fun photos and warm, genuine smiles, I always received capturing the moments where the kids were running around or interacting with each other, not even noticing that I’m there. 

In these moments, you can always ask them to quickly look into the camera, but you will still get a more ‘real’ photo than if you have them pose for a long time.

Family photoshoot in front of christmas tree

4. Take a break.

Don’t get too caught up in getting the perfect shot and remember to take moments in between where everyone can relax. This is also a good idea to give certain members of the family a little break. For example, one of the kids doesn’t want to participate at the moment. This might be a perfect opportunity to take a photo of just mum and dad or the parents with just one of the siblings, etc. Don’t be afraid to break up the group every no wand then. It will give more variation to your gallery in the end and gives some of the group a little moment where they don’t have a camera focused on them.  

5. Don't panic.

This is actually part two of the first tip, “Don’t make too many plans”. You can be all spontaneous, fun and playful  you want, sometimes it just won’t work out. You’ve tried everything, changing the location, taking a break, asking the parents to tickle them, play hide and seek with them,…you name it. Nothing works and there’s just tears and anger in the pictures and desperate parents? Take a deep breath and relax. There is nothing you can do about it now. It is not your responsibility to make these kids want to take part in the photoshoot, it is the parents’. If even they don’t know how to make them smile today, how should you possibly know? Exactly, you can’t. While it is of course sad for a family who has been looking forward tot his and had all these expectations, it is just out of your hands at this point. I’m sure there are at least a few in between all these shots that the family will love in the end!

If you keep these things in mind, I am sure your next family photoshoot will be a success. Try to remember, you are there to capture this very day in their life of their family. You will do all you can to make it a fun and successful one ; anything more than that is out of your hands. I wish you good luck and if you have any questions feel free to e-mail me anytime!

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“The days go by with so many little things that don’t seem to matter until they’re no longer there and suddenly, they’re all that ever mattered.”- Brian Andreas.

Open now for Family Session bookings 2021!

Would also like to have beautiful memories of you and your family? Whether it is just you and your partner, your kids or your whole family, I would love to help you create these impressions that you get to cherish forever. 

What is your favorite spot, where you feel at home, where you and your family belong?

Maybe you would like to meet on the beach of Kijkduin, Scheveningen or Bloemendaal (or others). Run through the waves, play with your kids in the sand & watch the sun go down. Or walk through the beautiful streets of your favorite city, whether that be The Hague, Leiden, Delft or Amsterdam. At that café where you first met. Walk along the canals hand in hand, sit in front of the beautiful old Dutch houses, or share a fresh Stroopwafel and sit by the harbour. Or stay in the comfort of your very own home. Capture that place where you had your babies and created all these beautiful memories.

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