The MOST important thing to remember is to have fun. Seriously. This should be thought of more like a hang out session than a portrait session. I get smiles by laughing and joking around with the children (and parents!). Theres nothing worse than sitting still with a permeant smile plastered on your face. Please do NOT yell “smile” at your child. Then follow up with “No, a real one!”. Children don’t know they aren’t smiling for real, and when people are stressed and not having fun at the session… trust me… it shows in the photos. Instead, play around with me and each other. I also have plenty of jokes and will play peek a boo to get those real smiles.
Bribing children to cooperate during the photo session is fine. Really. Sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do. Although, it will be FUN! :-) Donuts afterwards for a good job listening is fine. However, pulling out a little snack or treat during the session, might not be the best idea. Usually I’ve found parents will give out 1 goldfish or 1 cookie for a smile. Then the child will hold their hands in the air begging for more the rest of the session. Many photos have been turned in with the snack cup in the child’s lap because that’s the only way to get them to stop crying. Bringing snacks can sometimes be too distracting.
What to wear
I always say coordinate, not match. Yes, there will be siblings sometimes that show up all in matching outfits. If that’s what you like, thats fine. However, I’m interested in more of a cohesive photo. Matching colors does not give contrast between individuals. So if they are beside each other (which they will be)… it looks better to see a contrast. Colors within the same family are fine, different shades, etc. Logos can be distracting as well. Keys, wallets, and phones can be kept in my camera bag. Nothing worse than snapping a great family pic and then seeing the outline of a phone in a pocket.
The most important thing is wear what you’re comfortable in. You will be standing and sitting, so make sure you can do that without constantly tugging/pulling on your clothes. For In-home sessions, casual dress is best! For outside locations you can get away with casual or dressy, that just depends on your style and occasion for the shoot. Stay clear of bright colors. They can reflect off your skin and does not look good photographed. Think more neutral for colors. So instead of lime green… do a forest green. Yellow=mustard, red=maroon.