7 essentials for a tantrum-free family photoshoot

So, you really want some gorgeous photos of your angelic little children to hang on the wall and send to the grandparents – just one problem: your children are, well, children, and they don’t always cooperate.

I think I was being too kind there. I have two young children myself and we all know that however much we love them, they can be a real pain in the bum!

That is completely ok! It is absolutely normal for a child to feel uncomfortable in an unfamiliar situation, when their parents have high expectations of them and when a stranger is telling them how to stand and what to do. They are not yet developmentally capable of regulating these intense emotions – and we all know how they display this fear: tantrums! This is true apparently for teenagers too but I am not there yet so lets keep me blissfully ignorant for now. It gets easier, right? RIGHT?

girl with purple mulla mulla wildflowers in the Pilbara

Your photoshoot can be blissful!

I know you parents with spirited children like mine will not believe that statement, but a joyful family photoshoot is entirely possible!

There are just a few tricks I can share with you now, and a few behind the scenes so you know that behind every adorable little cupid 2 year old, is a hungry, energetic ball of chaos. And this applies for children of all ages – and probably husbands too.

1. Feed them

A hungry child is always a cranky child. Shoots can often be scheduled close to dinner time – especially the outdoor sunset ones. It is natural for a kid out of routine to get anxious so feel free to feed them up before hand or bring snacks. Do you know roughly the percentage of parents who bride their children on a shoot? 100%!! And probably 80% of them make an apology or feel ashamed for bribing their little ones but please do not! You wouldn’t have booked this photoshoot if it wasn’t important to you so do whatever you feel you need to to get the result you desire.

2. Arrive early

Quite often I add 20 minutes to the beginning of a shoot just because I know the children will not ‘perform’ the second they turn up. It can be great for them to run around a little, play and get settled. A comfortable kiddo photographs much better. By arriving early you are giving your children time to feel comfortable in their surroundings.

3. Have patience and empathy

From my observations, the most stressful part of any shoot for the parent is trying to get their children to do as they’re told. Please, don’t worry about it. The children pick up on your stress so the best course of action is to stay as calm as possible, and show empathy for whatever is triggering their discomfort – which is probably the whole photoshoot situation. 

4. Bring a favourite toy

Toys can be such handy tool for any photographer. Not only do they act as a comforter but I can use them as a tool to engage and connect with the child for example:

“Wow, cool tractor. I wish I had one like that”


“My daughter has a doll just like that. What’s her name?”

Even just playing with the toy can put them at ease and I can capture some great images then.

5. Don't worry if they get dirty

Put a kid in pastel colours or a white shirt and I can guarantee they will sit down in the dirt! It just happens every time! But fear not. We can try and steer them out of the messy stuff to get some pristine pictures at first, but if your child is a sensory-seeker (like my two!) then capturing images of them being their true self can actually be quite gorgeous. Particularly on the beach where sand or water splashes can make some pretty stunning images. 

6. Take breaks when needed

A two year old’s attention span is about 4 to 6 minutes, a 6 year old is 12 to 18 minutes and a 10 year old is up to 30. 

And a husbands is generally 3 minutes.

We are unlikely to get through all our poses to get you the full gallery of images you want (and deserve) without taking a few breaks. And that is why I like to prepare for them in advance. 

Whether it be a baby who needs milk frequently, a 4 year old who wants to tell me all about their fav dinosaurs, or a brooding teen who needs to share the embarrassing family experience on TikTok (just do a girl a favour and tag my business, ok 😉 )

I have structured these photoshoots in my calendar so that every client gets the time they deserve.

7. pre-empt them

No one likes to be blindsided with a new situation – let alone children who like predictable events! Tell them in advance what you are going to do as a family. Tell them it will be fun and there will be a lovely lady called Suzy who will be taking some fun photos for them. Let them know they can have breaks and that it won’t take long. Giving them a good idea of what to expect helps them mentally prepare and reduces the anxiety of the whole event.

BONUs tips 8 and 9 below!

If you would like to chat about booking your famly photoshoot, fill in the form below to get in touch

8. bonus tip: listen to them

Children are not that good at verbalising how they feel, and to be honest us adults aren’t always that good at listening. 

Some common things that can upset a child in a shoot can be uncomfortable clothing, or needing the bathroom but being too shy to say anything. Sometimes all it takes is really focussing on them for a moment and a little fix can make everything better. 

9. bonus tip: let them have a say

Ok, now I know kids have a terrible sense of style, but hear me out!

Do you look back on photos of yourself 10 or 20 years ago and think “Yikes! What was I wearing?”

Uhuh, me too. 

These photos are meant to capture all your personalities and the love you share, not what is in style this year. If your little one desperately wants to wear his PJ Mask shirt, maybe we can let him get some special shots especially of him in his shirt, show him in the back of the camera, then ask  we get some in his nice shirt also. 

Family photography made easy!

I hope this has put your mind at ease. Believe me, I  have met the most wonderful array of charismatic, energetic, wilful and stubborn children and have not found one yet I could not create a lovely gallery with. If you have any more tips I’d like to hear them! You can always contact me though my contact page

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