Tips for fun family photos with toddlers and young children

As a Boston family photographer, I know some tension can be associated with getting ready for your family photoshoot  Even I get a little stressed the days leading into my own family photo session.  Will my kids behave?  What should we wear?  Will my boys smile for the camera? lol  Being on both sides of the lens over the years, I have some tips for fun family photos with toddlers and young children.  These tips are helpful whether you’re a momma with an iPhone or a professional photographer.

Tip 1: Prep before your photo session

Weeks before your portraits, you can get your family excited for your big photo day.  You can tell your kids how fun it’s going to be and why it’s so special and important to have your family photos taken.  Days before my own family’s photoshoots, I look at family albums with my boys.  My boys like to laugh and giggle at how small they were (and how much younger I looked).  Sharing stories and looking at old photos will help build some enthusiasm.  Another great idea is to have your family try on the clothes before the big day.  You can even make a game out of it and pretend to be models on the catwalk!  Make sure the clothes fit properly and are comfortable.  On the day of the shoot, ensure the kids are well-rested and have full tummies.



Tip 2: Go outside!

As a Boston family photographer, I always recommend scheduling the session when the weather is pleasant.  Spring and fall are my favorite times of year because the whole family can run around outside and have fun.  This is very important when photographing active children who are filled with energy and excitement.  Plus, they’re the most beautiful times in New England.  With outdoor winter sessions, you may have to edit red and runny noses.. or worse, try to console cold, crying kiddos.  If you take the session indoors with toddlers and young children, you may be limited in space and stuck trying to capture little ones as they run from room to room (trust me.. I’ve done it!).

Tip 3: Find some shade

To a photographer, lighting is everything!  The best times to photograph families are in the early morning or before sunset when we get that beautiful golden hour. The midday sun can produce hard shadows, which are unappealing and unflattering.  But, if there is no choice based on scheduling or children’s moods, fear not!  Just a find a shady area to avoid the harsh lighting .. and scrunchie noses from squinting kiddos.  You’ll be sure to get beautiful images full of light and color.

Tip 4: Play games!

This is the most important tip of all!  No matter if your outfits are Pinterest-perfect, if you have the most magical lighting, or you are on a jaw-dropping location, none of it will matter if the children are miserable and not enjoying themselves.  So, get ready to be silly.  Have some games ready for the kids and parents to play.  This may include playing tag, throwing leaves, or singing their favorite songs.  The games will lighten the mood and keep the kids entertained and smiling.  A thrilling aspect of family photography is capturing the family interacting with each other.  Not every photo has to have each member of the family looking straight at the camera.

Tip 5: Bribe them.. yes, you heard that right!

It makes a huge difference when children and toddlers have something to look forward to.  As my boys get older, I plan a trip to the movies or their favorite restaurant after our family photos are taken.  With younger children, plan on “surprises” that are portable such as stickers or bubbles.  If you plan on using bribes of candy or food during the session, avoid anything with coloring so they don’t stain their clothes or lips.  I’ve used small treats such are smarties or cheerios.

Tip 6:  Have a plan and have fun!

Just remember that children may also feel a little tense before the photoshoot.  There’s a lot of pressure in “being good” and “smiling.”   So, come in with a plan.  I usually take a few minutes to interact with the children.  After they have warmed up, I know I have a small window of time for photos with some happy faces.  In my head, I have a plan of capturing certain photos (i.e., a posed family shot, kids together, each child alone).  Anything after that is icing on the cake.  Having a plan helps reduce any tension and allows for the rest of the session to be enjoyable and stressfree!

A big thank you to the Gianino family for allowing me to capture so many happy and “sweet memories” together!

Noah’s newborn session – 2019 

Family maternity session – 2018

Below are some more favorites from their session:

Woburn Ma at-home family photography by Isabel Sweet

I am a baby and newborn photographer in the Boston area. I am happy to provide boutique photography services to the South End, Back Bay, Fenway, Brookline, Cambridge, South Boston, Belmont, Arlington, Lexington, Needham, Beacon Hill, Newton, and beyond! All sessions take place in the comfort of your own home or favorite location. This in-home photo session took place in Woburn, Massachusetts. Interested in a newborn baby session? Contact me now!

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