All Kids Cry at Photo Shoots


So, you’ve booked your fall family photo session and you’re so excited because you’ve got an amazing photographer, the perfect fall setting, and the cutest outfits for your family to wear. And then, the night before one of your kids falls and bruises his forehead and has a huge knot on the day of the photos. And then, your baby spits up all over her cute dress. You get to the photo location and it’s so much hotter than you thought it was going to be. The kids start crying and fighting, which makes your husband super grumpy and ready to go home after the first ten minutes. You muster through wondering if you got even one family photo that you can slap on a Christmas card.

Sound familiar?

Guess what? You are not alone! In fact, after photographing families for over 13 years, I’d say this is more the norm than the exception. Time and time again I hear apologies from parents because their kids didn’t want to listen or behave, but I’m here to tell you, as a parent and as a photographer, there is no need for apologies! Kids aren’t the biggest fans of the time we set aside for photos — I get it! We bring them to a neat place and under normal circumstances they’d be free to explore and go where they want, not where some strange lady with a black box in front of her face tells them to go. I understand that the best place to snuggle and give kisses is at home, possibly when they are feeling sad or need some comfort, not when it’s on command. But I also know, from a parent’s perspective, that preserving this moment in time with the ones you hold so close and dear is so important. Having little treasures of sweet memories is pure gold.

So while we can do things like get them to the location early or make sure they are well-fed and if possible well-rested, my best advice for a photo shoot is to try to make it fun. If a photographer tells you to do a certain thing, make it work for your family. Tickle, hug, laugh, pick those babies up and swing them around. While I can’t speak for us all, I can say that I care most about putting you in good light. The freedom to do whatever you want in the good light is yours to take.

Skids happen. Bumps in the road are evident in life and sometimes even when you just wish your family could be at their best. But some of my most favorite photos are the ones where we’ve leaned into the skid, like this one below, when a train passed and the little boy I was photographing was so excited, but also terrified.

Or when little girls think smothering their brother with a book will make things all better.

Or when trying to help your little sister walk becomes a really bad idea.

Or even the time just one kid thinks you’re funny.

If their little personality shines through, what more could you want?

My biggest piece of advice when heading to your photo shoot this fall is this: don’t get hung up on getting the perfect family shot. If it comes, great. Most likely it will. You might not all be looking at the camera with your award winning smiles, but all the love that lives within your family will show. If you feel like you can look back on the photos years from now and remember what life was like in that stage, well, that’s what really matters. So let them pick up the frog by which they are completely enchanted…

Let them boss around their puppy…

Let them play with rocks or leaves…

Let them strike a pose, chase bubbles, lay down and take a nap, pout and hide, make a silly face, comfort each other, crawl between your legs or take a little break…

…because to me, the perfect photos are the ones that make you feel all the feels when pressing rewind or the ever-popular pause button isn’t possible.


  1. Your photos are exceptional, Katherine! On behalf of all parents, thank you for this article. I can tell you love what you do and that is so important in a photographer.


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