Newborn Photography
Portland, Oregon

5 Tips for a Fun-Filled Family Photo Session


Ever wonder what you can do to help prepare your little ones for your family photo session? Today on the blog I’m sharing 5 tips for a fun-filled family photo session with younger kids. 

Kids are free-spirited. They like to play and have fun. Run wild with their imaginations. These are just a few of the reasons why I love photographing children and why little ones have always held a special place in my heart. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is so magical. It makes you feel like a kid again yourself.

But being carefree and free-spirited also means they don’t always want to do the things you want them to do. Like during a family photo session for instance. Most children don’t understand the importance of family photography.

At the beginning of every family session I like to get to know each child a bit to help them feel more comfortable. Part of my job is to help people open up in front of the camera.This is even more important when photographing children.

There are also some things that you can do beforehand to prep your kids for their family photo session. And I have a few tricks for during the session too! You’ve spent all this time finding the right family photographer, picking out the location, choosing outfits, and getting everyone ready, let’s make sure it goes smoothly! 

1. Set Expectations Before you Arrive

Setting expectations with your kids before your family photo session is the first key to great photos. Sit down with your kids and talk to them about what you are going to be doing. Tell them how important family photography is to you and why you want photos of your family. Let them know that it’s going to be a lot of fun. You can show your own excitement for the day to get them excited too. 

2. Go out for a Treat Afterwards

I’m not above bribery! Sit down together as a family and decide on something fun you can all do together after the session is over — a special treat for being good listeners. Like going out for ice cream, hot cocoa, or out to dinner at their favorite place. 

3. Rest & Full Bellies Beforehand

It helps if your kids are well rested before their session. Outdoor sessions typically start during the two hours after sunrise or the two hours before sunset. During the summer this can be slightly challenging with bedtimes. But the challenge is worth the incredible light we’ll get in your family photos!  A good nap or some quiet time prior to your family photo session will set your children up for success. 

Making sure kiddos have a full belly prior to your family photos is crucial. I encourage you to bring water and their favorite snacks along. I always plan a little extra time for a snack break if needed. But if we can power through without we’ll have more time to capture some magical family photos together. 

4. Leave the Cheese at Home

I love cheese as much as any Wisconsin native, but when it comes to photography I say “no thanks.” We’ve all been conditioned to tell kids to say “cheese” at the camera. At some point people thought this was a great way to get kids to smile. But all it really does is produce cheesy (pun intended), fake, forced smiles. We want your family photos to be full of genuine giggles, laughter, and authentic smiles. So instead crack some jokes behind me, sing their favorite song, make silly faces, tickle them, or do whatever else you know gets your kids to grin.

Another trick for photographing children is for you to bring familiar objects along, like small toys or stuffed animals, that could help us get their attention and smiles. 

5. Let Them be Kids

One great reason for getting professional family photos taken is so that you can be in the photos with your kids. If your kids get distracted, we’ll go with it. This means you can explore with them, tickle them, spin them, dance with them. I’m looking to capture genuine authentic moments of you and your family. The best family photography tells a story that helps you remember this stage of life with them. I’ll help guide you to different spots and give you prompts to help start games. But it’s important for you to let loose and just have fun with your children knowing I’ll be there capturing memories as family photos. 

Final Thought

Remember to give your kids and yourself a little grace. Photographing children means letting them explore, giggle, and have fun. I’ll be there documenting your genuine interactions together and getting you some beautiful authentic family photos that you can cherish forever. My goal is to make family photography a stress-free and positive experience for you and your children.

Head on over to my contact form so we can start planning your next family photo session!

family photo session tickle party Mom, Dad, brother, and sister
Family of three on the left swinging their two year old son between them, on the right is a family of four admiring their new baby
3 year old girl smelling a flower and looking at the camera
Mom and Son on the left and little girl reaching for the stars on the right, family photo shoot moments
Photography of a one year old girl in neutral colors smiling off camera
Family of four doting on their new baby dressed in neutral tones
5 year old smiling off camera with her hands under her chin during family photo shoot
Fall family photo sessions family of 3 doing airplane with one year old son, Mom and daughter on the right
Mom and son snuggling and laughing together
Family of four playing games during their family photo shoot
Mom and Daughter snuggling and laughing
fall family photo sessions, family of three on the left walking but looking at each other, Mom and daughter on the right looking at one another
Little boy in grey laughing up at the camera during his breakout portraits at family photo session
Little girl on left smelling flower, on the right dad is holding his two year old son in the air
Family Portraits family of four smiling at the camera

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  1. Julie says:

    I love your thoughtfulness. What a wonderful idea to get everyone prepared. I love these pictures ?? they are beautiful.

    • Ashlie Behm says:

      Thank you, I want to be a resource for the families I work with and make sure everyone is prepared for their sessions!

  2. This guide is informative for users and photographers too, I personally liked the post a lot. Keep up the best work…