Preparing Your Child For A Portrait Session

After putting it off for months and months, you’ve finally scheduled your child for a portrait session with a local photographer. What now? Believe it or not, the things you do BEFORE the session can have a huge impact on the results of the session itself.


As a professional portrait photographer for over 14 years, I’ve seen it all – from very well-behaved kids to wild, crazy, out-of-control kids. The biggest problems, however, were usually caused by things that had nothing to do with the kid.


Whatever you do, resist the urge to coach your child before the session. Working with them on their smile is just about the worst thing you can do. Chances are, your child already knows how to smile. By trying to teach them how to do it on command, you are increasing your odds of getting a really fake expression in the portrait. A good photographer knows how to get expressions out of kids – by interacting with them and making them laugh. If the child says “CHEEEEEEZE” every time I step behind the camera, I know I’m in for a long session.


Another popular strategy is to take your child in for a new hair cut right the morning of the session. This is never a good idea, because they often end up with that “new haircut” look. Schedule any haircuts for 3 or 4 days in advance, so the hair has a chance to settle back in and look natural.

During the Session

When you arrive at the portrait session, do your best to be completely quiet. In fact, its better if you wait in the next room. By sitting off to the side and encouraging your child, you will cause them to look over at you constantly. As a result, you will view the final images and say, “Wow- that would have been a great one, but he’s not looking at the camera.” I know it is difficult and it probably will drive you crazy – but you must be strong. Trust me on this one!

If you will follow these simple strategies, you will make the photographers job a whole lot easier and increase your chances of getting those “perfect” images. All you have to do is….. do nothing. How much easier can it get?

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