Valentine’s Day, a holiday of chocolates and love.
Before kids, I wasn’t a fan of the holiday. I didn’t need a reason to show my hubby I love him, and spending too much on a card and some chocolates and flowers isn’t our thing. (Though he can buy me caramels any day….)
But with kids everything change. Suddenly the focus isn’t on just romantic love, but on loving one another. It became an opportunity to teach them about sharing love and kindness with others.
It also became a fun time to dress them up in reds and pinks and take a photo of them together!
I should start by saying, I only aim to take these more traditional portraits on special occasions, like for holidays or birthdays. And while I say “traditional” I’m still not after that “perfect” photo of them smiling and looking at the camera.
Taking photos of kids together can be challenging. They have a short attention span and most likely, don’t want to stop and sit for photos. But with these tips, they will look forward to the next time mom wants a few cute portraits of her kids together.
Are you ready? Grab your camera, and let’s go.
Plan ahead and set the scene first.
I’d say this is the most important step of the entire process. You want to have a location in mind where you will take the photos. Are you going to go out somewhere to take them? Will you keep it at home?
Selecting the location ahead of time, and then having everything ready before bringing the kids in.
I like to keep it simple by using our front step or the master bed or couch. Somewhere with good light, easy to get to. For summertime photos I may pick a fun, outdoor spot, but February weather in Seattle is….well, rainy.
The other thing you want to plan is kids’ outfits. For a festive photo, I pull reds, pinks, whites, and even purples, grey and navy to coordinate. I lay it all out together to ensure it will look good together, so I don’t find out after taking photos that my son’s teal shirt sticks out too much!
Talk up the picture to your kids.
I let my kids know way ahead of time that I’d like a photo for Valentine’s Day. I start by asking, saying what I’d really like for an early Valentine’s Day gift is them to let me take a photo of them together. Then I talk about how fun it will be and that I have special treats for the event. I also explain that I have some outfits I’d love if they’d wear a special Valentine’s Day outfit. This way there are no surprises for them and they know it’s coming.
Now that they are excited, it’s time to take the photo.
Get everything ready before brining in the kids.
Kids have a limited attention span. The last thing you want to do is waste those good smiles and happy spirits while you’re trying to get your camera gear out and settings right.
Especially if you’re taking the photos in/at your home, you are able to have your camera out and ready. Set up a stuffed animal and take a few test photos to make sure you have your settings set and ready.
And grab any special treats you might be using.
Set a timer and keep it short.
Now that you have everything ready, and kids sitting in front of you, set a timer.
Again, kids have a short attention span. Set a timer for 5 minutes. If you’re just getting frustrated, stop and try again another time soon. (A good reason you should try to get your photo before Valentine’s Day).
If you set an actual timer the kids can hear, you build trust when you say it will only be 5 minutes and you stick to it. They will be much more likely to cooperate again in future photo taking opportunities.
Make it fun with funny prompts and end on a good note.
Get those kids all snuggled up together and then sing fun songs together, tell jokes, or have them yell out “Happy Valentine’s Day!” or even ask them to say something funny. You know your kids, what makes them laugh?
Have them singing together, rocking back and forth, or telling jokes will help you get authentic smiles.
I also don’t mind using a fun special treat like a lolli pop that will keep them sitting still for longer. Before I give them out, I try for a few treat free photos first, capturing that excitement and anticipation.
After we are done I always thank them. I tell them how grateful and I share the photo with them. This helps them feel even more apart of it, and proud that they have a photo of themselves.
That’s it. Now that you’re ready, start planning out where and when to do these fun photos. Remember, keep it light and fun and they will have fun too.