What it’s really like photographing preschool children – Spring Hill TN Family Photographer

Photographing young children is something that I do regularly. If I had to choose one genre or age group of photographs to take, it would be families with pre-school age children for sure. It’s where I am most comfortable. It’s the age group that I am most passionate about shooting (though I still love taking pictures of people of all ages).

I have to remind myself that my clients do not do this regularly. This might be the first time they’ve been to a photo session like mine, and at the very least, it’s the first time they’ve done family photos with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old (or whatever the case may be.)

Because of that, I try to reassure my clients throughout a session that this is normal. I swear. Listen, photo sessions with multiple pre-school age children is by nature, a little bit of organized chaos. One client I had once called it a beautiful mess, and I love that term. Your kids are doing great. Really, they are.  

I think one thing that makes parents nervous is when I start asking small children to do things, and maybe (probably) they don’t do what I ask. Please believe me when I tell you that I have NEVER met a two-year-old who did everything I asked. Never. Expecting them to follow all my instructions is not age-appropriate or realistic. Also, it doesn’t bother me one bit if they aren’t interested in something I suggest. 

There are three main reasons it doesn’t bother me:

  1.  I have LOTS of tricks up my sleeve. Some kids like racing, some like flying, or Ring around the Roses. Some want to talk. Quite a few like to talk about farts (though I let them initiate that in case mom and dad don’t approve). Others want to interact only with mommy and daddy. That’s all OK.  
  2. I take a LOT of photos. I will delete tons, particularly at a session with small children. But I’m always left with plenty of keepers. 
  3. The only thing I want from your kids is for them to be authentic. Two-year-olds don’t know any other way to be, so whatever happens, we are winning. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes an image doesn’t tell the whole story. Today I want to talk through what happens at pretty much every session with small children ever, using photos from a family portrait session. So you can read what was happening in real life, and see the resulting image. I’m hoping this will prevent any future anxiety when you think “my kids aren’t cooperating.” I promise you; they are doing exactly what I want them to do.  

Me: “You wanna sit on this crate together?” *Baby sister sits down for 2 milliseconds then jumps up to play*. Result: I got it. It only takes a millisecond.
Me: “Very gently, hug your sister. Result: Close enough. šŸ™‚
Me: “Wanna go sit on the blanket?” Toddler: “Shhhh, we are looking for squirrels.” Result: I love a girl who knows what she wants. She’s perfection.
Me: “Sit in mommy and daddy’s lap and I’ll give you a sucker. Result: Suckers always work.
Mom: “Take a big lick of your sucker, like this.” Toddler: Licks imaginary sucker like mom did, instead of actual sucker in her other hand. Result: Hilarious.
Me: “Hold hands.” Result: The third time’s a charm.
Me: “Show me how you dance.” Result: These kids are flipping fantastic.
Me: “Give your sister a kiss on the cheek.” Result: Well, kiss…lick, same thing.”

So as you can see, these two beautiful sweet girls did an amazing job. They did exactly what I wanted them to do….to be wild and free and full of wonder. Because that’s the way it should be. Here are a few more photos from their session.

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