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4 Photography Tips for When You Have a Rough Photoshoot

Whether it was a tired toddler, a grumpy husband, rough light, or worse--a combination of all those, we have all had challenging photo sessions. Here are some photography tips to turn any session around and create portfolio-worthy images both you and your clients will love!

Kids running playfully to avoid photography challenges
Photography tips to avoid a rough photoshoot with kids

Let's be honest, family photos can be a pressure cooker situation that puts your families into a "perfect storm" environment for a series of unideal moods and attitudes going into their session. If you think about all that goes into photos on your clients' end--it is quite the juggling act! Scheduling the session around kids' activities, parent work schedules, nap/meal times, and when you their photographer recommend light will be best. Then planning/buying all the outfits, getting the kids ready, getting themselves photo-ready, spending the time to take the photos, and lastly--the cost of the photo session itself. Parents, especially Moms, feel the pressure of everything going well since so much work has led up to the session itself. Just because it can be a pressure-cooker for stress, does not mean it needs to be!

Here are 4 photography tips and tricks you can do as a photographer to alleviate that stress and get even the most challenging session turned around into family session bliss!

4 Photography Tips for Avoiding a Rough Photo Session

1. Over-Communicate with Your Clients

From the time your client books to posing and directing their session, it is a HUGE help when you over-communicate EVERYTHING. I want my clients to feel at ease during their entire experience so I spend a good deal reassuring them. Session prep guides, thorough emails with directions, starting the session by giving them an overview of your game plan, and even over explaining poses while demonstrating yourself are all ways you can become an expert communicator with your clients which leads to them trusting you and taking a good chunk of that pressure off of them! Nothing puts a grumpy husband in a better mood than knowing their photographer has a plan and is working efficiently!

2. Find What Works

Start your session by figuring out what works for the kiddos to get authentic smiles (hint: it is rarely "say cheese.") Whether it is bop the bunny, peek-a-boo, fart machines, bubbles, or silly posing prompts like "who has the smelliest feet" or jokingly asking preteens to give each other cheek kisses--find what the unique kiddos in front of you respond to. You don't want to overuse it, but you want to have it in your back pocket when needed. Busting out your "tricks" early on in the session will also avoid parents feeling the need to coach kiddos to "smile for real" which of course only leads to the most forced smiles.

3. Get Them Moving

Kids are happiest when moving, let them move! Twirling, jumping, even racing are all good ways to incorporate movement. For kiddos who are not physically able to move independently, you can have parents help facilitate moving by helping them dance, holding them while doing some half-spins, etc. When your clients are sitting still for a pose, they feel less in control--especially if a kiddo is having a tough time. This leads to parent frustration and a less ideal client experience. So when a family starts to look a little restless, transition into movement poses like walking, air planing kids, group hugs, etc.

4. Kids Can Sense Stress

Biologically, kids are designed to have a sensitive radar to their environment in order to survive--they are especially in-tune with their parents! When parents feel stressed, kids know and feel it too. Investing the time and energy putting your adult clients at ease and prepping them for their session makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Reassure them that all kids need breaks during a session. Reassure them that their outfits look great! Reassure them that you have done this many times and know what to do to get "the shots!" At the end of the day, when a client looks at their images they are going to recall what emotion they felt in that moment. It is our job to make them feel as good as they look!

When you have a toolbox filled with tricks for a smooth session, you are able to focus on things like your camera settings, finding (and using) that glowy light, and letting the creativity FLOW! By keeping these tips in mind, you can avoid any major photography challenges.

Dive deep and master all my favorite photography tips, tricks, and techniques in Module 4 of the CapABLE Community Signature Program!

Until next time,


Check out these other posts filled with more tips!


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