I’ve been around the same three people day in and day out for the last 5ish weeks. I’m an expert in toddler-speak and I am fully embedded in the culture of my house. My occasional zoom meetings mean I need to wear clothes on the upper part of my body, and I get to practice holding conversation (not just Patel household shorthand) with another adult. However, those calls aren’t happening every day. Whenever I start meeting with clients again, I’m going to have to do some major session prep just to get my head around being socially coherent again.
Getting ready for a photo shoot means more than putting on pants and getting a haircut. It’s just as important to simultaneously prep mentally. If you come to the session in a grumpy mood, you’re going to get grumpy pictures and no one will have a good time, so it’s important to mentally prepare yourself and your kids for our time together. Luckily, there are easy, practical ways to do this.
1. Get your kids excited about your session. If they’re old enough to understand what we might be doing during the shoot, hype it up for them. Tell them that we’re going to the park, or blowing bubbles in the backyard. Tell them we’ll build blanket forts and play dress-up in the playroom, or whatever we’ve decided to do during our time together. Build it up as the fun, easygoing time you expect it to be.
2. If your kids are too young to understand why bubbles are so great, there are other ways to mentally prepare them. This is also generally a good idea for everyone of napping age: plan your session time around naptime, not during it. If your kid naps at 10am every day, don’t try to schedule a session that overlaps with that or leads right up to it. If you schedule an evening shoot, don’t skip a nap beforehand. Also, plan so that if the kids oversleep, you won’t be rushed to get ready and won’t be late, which can undo all your preparation and make you feel frazzled and overwhelmed.
3. Don’t skip mealtimes or snacks. Food is as important as sleep, in that if the kids are hungry, they’ll be whiny or fussy and less than cooperative. Remember as you hand out snacks in the waning moments before your shoot that “clean” snacks are important. It’s not the easiest thing to photoshop stains out of toddler shirts in every single photo, so it’s not something I tend to include in my included editing services.
4. Involve the kids in picking out the outfits for your session. Especially for older toddlers in the “I wear what I want” stage, getting them to help pick out their outfit will help on picture day when you’re trying to dress them. Present them with a couple of acceptable options and let them pick. If it gets down to shoes and they insist on their rain boots instead of nice shoes, consider letting them wear the boots to memorialize the ‘I must wear rainboots’ time of their life, instead of choosing it as a hill to die on. They’ll be happy they got to make a choice in the planning process. Bonus: tell me how much they HAD to wear the boots and I’ll make a point to compliment them. If your kid is anything like mine, there will be some adorable reactions to that.
I hope this helps you and your family mentally prep prior to our fun time together!