9 tips on how to enjoy your family portraits | #portraittips #family #familyportraits #seattlearboretum | www.rebeccaellison.com

Family portraits are one of those things that usually mom is most excited about, dad is here to make mom happy and the kids are just along for the ride. Right?

It's a funny thing, though, because, of all those photos we have of our family, the family portraits are unique in that they are usually the ones that make it to the wall. And they are usually the ones that have the whole family in it. Mom or dad are not stuck on the picture taking side of things, but can actually be present in the moment to be part of that moment.

So, how do you enjoy your family portraits, especially when someone may be dragging their feet to participate?

My biggest suggestion is to roll with it. And trust in your photographer, as while things may seem like chaos to you as Mom, trust me, this is all normal in the life of a portrait photographer.

But the problem is, if you get upset or start trying to control the happiness and engagement of your family members (kids or spouse), all it's going to do is heighten the tension and make those "I'm smiling so to not get yelled at" smiles, and not the fun ones of true spontaneous laughter that you truly want.  And trust me. No one is going to burst out in spontaneous laughter if there is high tension in the area.

So what do you do you're wondering? Let me take the reigns.

It's amazing how many amazing photos we can get while we let the kids do their thing, and once I start joking around with dad, he'll lighten up too :)

If you want those spontaneous laughter moments, you have to let the kids do some of the fun things they want to do, before you ask them to sit and smile pretty for the camera. And the more I get them moving and doing the things they love, the more they will smile authentically as well as the more likely they will hang out to do that one photo that I ask of them (and that you really want!)

So my top  9 tips for enjoying your family photos

  1. Feed the entire family before coming to the shoot. And feed them something with protein and not just carbs. Because low blood sugar will disrupt the listening skills of any family member. And that vacant far away look on little faces, or full on melt down faces are not the funnest to remember.
  2. Trust in me that I know what I am doing
  3. Let the kids run and play. We will capture the moments they love then ask them to do the moment you want. They are much more likely to do what we want after they get their choice first.
  4. Be open to silly 4th-grade humor fart jokes. Because you know dad will laugh too :)
  5. Be open for those more candid laughing moments of your kids vs the sit still, stare at camera and smile big photos. Because, for kids, the first option is what will actually create the smiles
  6. Don't bring up bribery, treats unless it's the LAST option. And let me tell you when that is. Because the second you do, treats are the entire focus. Also, never bring a sucker or chocolate. If you bring treats, make it gummy bears, or something that doesn't leave a sticky face or hands. Raisins are great too!
  7. Do not threat, yell or talk sternly under your breath to the kids. Because while you are trying to get them to do what you want, it's only going to change the dynamic of the shoot and all fun flies out the window. Trust me, let me take the reigns and I will get them to laugh.
  8. Be open to non traditional portraits, because sometimes, that is what life gives!
  9. And finally. Ask for a portrait of you and your husband without the kids. It's so easy to focus on just the kids, but it's just as important to focus on the relationship and love that started the family too!

This photo session below is a great example of rolling with it! I've been photographing this family since Caroline, the oldest was itty bitty. They are the sweetest, and always so much fun to photograph. This session we had, the littlest, Miss Nora was 2.5 and gonna do what she wanted. Not a lot of stand here and look and smile coming from her that day, so you know what we did? 

We played. They ran, they twirled, they joked and they danced. I let them be them, and we caught some magic. Mom and dad trusted that I knew what I as doing and that I would create moments that they would treasure and sneak in a family portrait in the middle. Probably seemed like chaos a time or two, but they rolled with it, and we walked away with these moments of pure childhood delight. Plus a family photo and a mom and dad only photo for them.

Win win :)

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