Kids photoshoot ideas: Why you should let your child ‘misbehave’

How to get the best out of your children during a professional photoshoot

Thanks for visiting my FAQ blog on kids photoshoot ideas.

It’s one of the biggest fears that parents I speak to have.

What happens when you’ve gone to the trouble of booking a photoshoot – of organising the date, coordinating schedules around nap and feeding times and preparing beautiful outfits – only for your little ones to ‘misbehave’ during the entire session?

What if your little ones don’t sit still and pose for a photo?

If your kids aren’t on top form and just won’t smile, what happens?

When you have children that won’t be told what to do, how do you expect them to do a photoshoot?

Does the idea of a family photoshoot in the park quite simply put the fear of God into you?

It’s OK!

If so, then know that you’re not alone! Most mums and dads I speak to ahead of their session are equally worried about how to keep their kids entertained, engaged and happy during their photoshoot.

But it may surprise you to hear that as a photographer (and mum myself of two lively, independent boys aged 7 and 4), I actually EXPECT and WANT your children to be themselves.

I have not done a photoshoot yet where each and every child, no matter how old they are, has their ‘moments’ – they get hungry, tired, in need of attention and so on.

That’s what children do. I completely expect them to go through the full gambit of emotions in half an hour. It’s what I’m trained for and what I have built up a skill in capturing.

Because you see, I think family photoshoots should be FUN. Period.

Let kids be kids

You want your kids to run around, not sit still, play a different game to what you expected, not sit where you thought they might. If you let them truly be themselves, there’s way more chance that they will feel comfortable, start to enjoy it and open up to you. There is so much pressure for us all to be ‘perfect’ when it comes to photoshoots, but actually, perfectionism isn’t what you’re after for the best photo.

And of course, then the parents feel a lot more relaxed because they can see their little ones are having fun and being themselves. That’s when you get the very best photographs.

It’s my job to make your photoshoot fun and effortless; kind of like a really nice playdate in the park. You’ll walk away with lovely memories of a special afternoon out together, as a family, where I just happen to be there with my camera.

Best family photographers capture genuine heartfelt moments, like this dad and daughter laughing

Kids photoshoot ideas: Bring something they love/ that makes them laugh

Again, as I’m sure you’ll know by now as parents to young little minds, there’s sometimes nothing better than a distraction. This means you can bring something along to the session that you know they’re going to loosen up to and enjoy.

Brief ideas are: bubbles, balls, favourite cuddly toys, books that make them giggle.

Seeing something familiar in what can be a fairly unfamiliar situation where you’re all suddenly sitting around under a tree in a park can help them to forget where they are and focus on the moment.

Family photographer London: A girl pops bubbles for fun during her outdoors photoshoot

Kids photoshoot ideas: How to make your kids smile

First of all, consider this: some of my favourite ever photos I’ve taken of children over the last decade are the ones where they DON’T smile. Where they’re just being. Just looking into the distance, daydreaming or contemplating something. I think these moments are where we truly are able to look into the soul of children and it’s a real privilege to do.

The last thing you want is to ask your child to smile and then they give you that fairly awkward, fake grin (you know the one I mean!!) – it’s not natural and might also make the kid feel as though they’re there to perform. So I actually never ask anyone to smile in my photos. I might ask kids to look my way, but if I want them to laugh, I’ve got to earn it.

Get real

The best smiles caught on camera are all 100% genuine. Actual, real reactions to something I’ve done – most likely I’ve been acting out silly, or making silly noises or playing peekabo… kids LOVE this don’t they!

I know, I’m a mum myself and there’s nothing that makes my heart sing more than to capture a real, genuine smile or laugh of my children on camera. So I know you want this and I’ll be doing my hardest to get it. But I’ll get it in a way that suits your children and brings the best out of them.

Boy laughs on steps during a children photographer London session

Kids photoshoot ideas: Let them lead the photoshoot!

If like me you have two strong-willed, independent children who won’t be told what to do – then that’s absolutely NORMAL.

In a situation like this, whether the kid is 2 or 8, I often ask them to ‘lead’ the photoshoot – so I say things like, ‘where do you think we should go next’ or give them choices like ‘shall we go and sit under that tree there or walk along the wall over there?’.

One of the choices is infinitely more fun than the other, so they’ll choose that but they’ll feel like they had some control in it.

Better still, I might ask one of the older kids, if there are quite a few siblings, to come join me as my assistant for 5 minutes.

So they can stand with me and see if they can make their little brother laugh, or they can tell me the photographer when I should click the button and so on.

We become buddies for a little bit and it’s good fun: they can even see their results on the back of my camera and feel they’re part of the whole process.

A three year old messes about during his Muswell Hill photographer session

Kids photoshoot ideas: The unexpected shots are the best.

So, I’m back to this notion of ‘misbehaviour’ again. By now I hope you realise I really think there’s no such thing when it comes to kids just trying to be kids. They act out and do things in ways you don’t expect.

However, sometimes, these bursts of behaviour are GREAT for photographs! It’s totally boring to have the whole family sitting in a line looking like they’ve been ‘posed’ and smiling at the camera.

You can basically do that yourself on your iphone! If you want really meaningful family photographs, you’ve gotta let go and just let moments unfold.

Generally moments where there’s some connection between people are great; e.g. holding hands, tickling each other.

But when it comes to siblings, it’s great to capture all the dimensions of the sibling relationship. Allowing them to be themselves, ‘play fight’, chase, the ups and downs of games that go wrong etc etc.

A baby is tickled by his mummy during a family photographer North London photoshoot
Have you thought about how to display your favourite images after a North London photographer session?

A girl stands soulfully thinking during a park photoshoot North London

______ HOW DOES IT WORK?______

If you’re after more detail on exactly what to expect when working with me at Louisa Peacock Photography, then check out this ‘How it Works’ page.

This page outlines the four stages of coming into my studio for a photoshoot, from the early design and planning through to actually hanging an amazing piece of art on your wall.

When you come to my studio, you’ll feel that everything is taken care of.

Of course if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.

Ready to enquire?

I hope I’ve made it clear that I really don’t expect (or want!) your child to ‘perform’ or ‘behave’ on the day of their photoshoot.  I love nothing more than to capture genuine expressions – and essentially, you doing you.

Your family is perfect, just the way they are. You don’t need to conform to the Instagram-perfect way of portraying your life. I’ll help you get pictures that are even better because they reflect the real you.

Please call me if you’d like to find out more.

Also it might be worth checking out my Family photography page. Thanks for reading!

Muswell Hill baby photographer Louisa Peacock

Louisa is the owner of Louisa Peacock Photography and runs an award-winning studio in her own home in Muswell Hill. She specialises in family, baby and newborn photography in the studio or out and about in London’s beautiful parks. Above all her photoshoots are relaxed, fun and meaningful.