• Nathan Payne

How to Get the Best Family Portraits with Young Children

Updated: Jun 4

Stressing About Getting Family Portraits?

When it comes to getting professional photographs made of your family, there can be much stress. You know your kids better than anyone else, and you know that when the chips are down, the odds are there's going to come a moment where they can't keep their composure. They're going to get tired, distracted, hungry, or altogether defiant.


And so, even though you're excited about having professional portraits of your family, you're also dreading the entire experience. Indeed, investing in family portraits can be a harrowing experience.


Two brothers stand shoulder to should with impish grins as one peers at the other out of the corner of his eye.
Two brothers exude mischievous charm for their portrait.

The good news is, you're not the only one to have ever felt this way.


Plenty of families have gone through this same process, and despite what you might think, your worst fears are a part of the process.


We promise, even when things seem to be going awry, a great photographer will know what they're doing and how to handle the situation.

11 Tips for the Best Family Portraits Experience When You Have Young Kids


1. Be Flexible

When it comes to photographing young children, everything becomes dynamic. The more constraints placed on the photoshoot, the harder it'll be to get what you want—evocative images that'll last a lifetime.

2. Stay Focused

Adults, during your session, keep your eyes directed at the camera as much as possible. Although your kids are prone to distraction and stubbornness, a good photographer will have the patience necessary to "get the shot." The more you look at the camera, the easier it'll be for everyone, which, in turn, will get you better results in a shorter amount of time.

3. Get Comfortable

So much of photographing people is about capturing personality and emotion. When everyone is comfortable, those essential characteristics are allowed to shine through. Getting comfortable means a few different things:


  • Wearing clothing that is suitable for the environment you're going to be photographing in is vital. The proper attire goes a long way toward making everyone as happy as possible for as long as possible, which is desirable for everyone and your photographs.

  • Getting comfortable also means relaxing. We can't say this enough. Take a minute to relax. Let your kids run around. Take a breath, and let bygones be bygones; after everything is all said and done, you'll be happier about the photos you take home.

  • Get to know your photographer. There is a strong relationship between you, your photographer, and the camera. The more comfortable everyone feels, the better the images will be.

4. Don't Rush

If your goal is to finish as fast as possible, it will be challenging to relax. Slow down, take a deep breath, and remember that despite all of life's demands, you want to capture this moment in time for a reason. Relish this time away from everyday life. After it's all over, you can go back to rushing around to accomplish everything on your to-do list.

5. Give Your Kids Time

When it comes to family photographs, there's a lot of pressure on kids to be on their best behavior. This expectation often does not account for all the demands leading up to the photoshoot. There's the going to bed on time, getting dressed, eating, and traveling. On top of all that, there's an expectation of holding still and smiling.

Giving your kids time to relax, run around, play, and even have a meltdown or two will benefit the entire session. The younger they are, the more breaks and the more play they're going to need.

Your photographer, if you've chosen well, will understand this and be accommodating.


A mom and her child pose against a stone backdrop as the child points at the camera.
A Mom's love is evident when around her children.

6. Give Yourselves Time

Adults, as much as is possible, give yourselves the time you need as well. If you think it's going to take you 45 minutes to get ready, give yourselves an hour. If the drive is 20 minutes, give yourselves 30 minutes. It is also best not to have an appointment of any sort immediately following your photoshoot.

Little actions like this will reduce stress for everyone, which is always desirable for your images.

7. Give Your Photographer Time

One other note on time; your photographer needs time to do their job correctly. If you can afford it, spend a little extra to maximize the possibility of multiple high-quality photos. You'll thank yourself later.

8. Trust Your Photographer

It is a truism that photographers look at the world differently. They've trained themselves to do so, and it's safe to assume that you chose your photographer for certain qualities you valued. Trust their instincts. They likely see something you're not.

9. Communicate

On the other hand, don't be afraid to speak up when you feel something isn't working. You're the customer and, although that doesn't always make you right, a great photographer will take what you have to say into consideration and, where necessary, provide guidance or explain themselves.


The better you can tell your photographer what you're looking for, the odds of getting what you desire to go up dramatically.


10. Rest Up

It can be hard to get good sleep as a parent, but, if at all possible, make sure you go to sleep on time for a night or two leading up to your session. That'll help make sure you're looking your best during your photo session.


11. Have a Backup Plan

On the day of the photoshoot, anything that can go wrong might go wrong—having a backup plan with your photographer will reduce stress and avoid misconceptions. The last thing anyone wants is hard feelings because of unforeseen consequences interfering with what was supposed to be a fun day.

Two brothers stand back to back with mischievous grins and arms crossed.
Brother's love each other in special and often rambunctious ways.

Bonus Tip For Great Family Portraits


It goes without saying, but we'll say it here:


12. Above all else, having fun during your session is always a great idea.

As much as you want great photographs, you also deserve a great experience. The whole event should be fun for everyone and, when it is, you'll be able to look back on this time in your life with fond memories, and who doesn't want that?