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How To Prepare Young Children For a Family Mini Session: 5 Essential Tips

By Sun and Sparrow

How to prepare young children for a family mini session

Even though many of us adults love them, photo sessions are not every child’s idea of a good time. Spending time in these unique moments might be hard for a child, and while I am focused on making sure your pictures are the best they can be, Sun and Sparrow is also committed to creating enjoyable moments. Mini sessions should be fun and beautiful memories for you to cherish forever. That’s why I created this blog about how to prepare young children for a family mini session. It is my hope that you can use some of these ideas to help your kids fully enjoy your family pictures!

If you haven’t already, go ahead over to Sun and Sparrow’s inquiry page to contact me, Ellie, about setting up your family session today! We also have Mini Sessions every year. They are a wonderful option to get your family session done in a low-pressure environment. I’m so excited to see you and your family soon! 

5 ways to prepare young children for a family mini sesion

1. Talk To Your Children About Your Family Photo Session The Day Before

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Practice using positive language! A family photo session doesn’t come around that often so it can be a little scary for young children. Using positive language is a simple way to make a massive difference in your child’s outlook on a photo session. When we did our family photo session this year I told my son that it was normal for him to feel a little bit nervous. We got to have an enjoyable conversation about how being nervous is part of life and doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

If children know what to expect, your family photo session will be more successful. Tell your kids about the session and talk about where it’s going to be. Let them know the car ride will be short or long and get excited together about dressing up! The more familiar you can make the experience for your kids the better. You can even show them some pictures of your photographer and let them know your photographer’s name so when your kid meets them its more familiar.

Something a lot of people miss when they explain how to prepare young children for a family mini session is asking your kids questions! Kids have rich inner lives but their opinions are often overlooked or ignored. Even as an adult, I have had conversations where people were trying to give me good advice, but they forgot to ask any questions or listen. Showing genuine interest in your child’s mind is the number one way to find out what they might need. Ask them how they feel about having a photo session and let them talk about their thoughts. Turn your photo session into an opportunity to connect with your children about something easy and fun.

2. Go Through Old Family Albums Together

Sun and Sparrow Family Photographer

Recently, I was at my inlaws’ house wth my five-year-old son and he walked up to a bookshelf, picking up an old book. He brought the book over to me inquisitively. I looked at the book and saw that it was my inlaws’ wedding album. While I would love to take this moment to talk to you about the importance of getting yourself a beautiful wedding album, that is a story for another article. Let me tell you, looking through that album together was such a beautiful experience for us. By the time we finished, my son was ready to have his own photo session! 

If you’re wondering how to prepare young children for a family mini session, you can replicate that same experience with your own kids. Open a photo album and talk about the fun memories that you find inside. Talk about all the wonderful people in the album and the love that you have for them. Then turn that conversation toward the future and your upcoming family mini session. You are going to make memories just like the ones you just looked at. 

Make sure that while you look at old pictures together you talk about their value and how they help us capture and reignite old memories. Share how special it is that we can do this with imagery. Then ask your kids what parts of their life they might want to remember.

3. Play Pretend Family Photoshoot with Your Children

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Pretend play is one of the most effective things we do with our son. We like to imagine upcoming events and then we act them out in play so that when the real event happens we are ready for it. Recently, we took our son on his first airplane ride. Flying can be overwhelming and intense, but by the time he got on that plane, he had done it twenty times already in pretend. He was so excited to see the things we had imagined together come to life! We played pretend airplane with kitchen chairs and a toy shopping cart, and playing pretend photo session is just as easy! 

The first step is to draw a camera on a piece of cardboard and cut it out. Make sure that the cardboard is thick or has some folds so that tiny hands can hold it like the important pretend camera that it is. Once you have your camera, you are ready for your pretend photo session! Take turns being the photographer and the subject. Let everyone the camera and practice laughing, smiling, and just existing in that space. 

It’s important to note that this photo session is about having fun and getting ready for your real family photo session. Since we’re just trying to have fun with this, make sure that you don’t use your phone or a real camera for your session. While it might seem like a great idea to use a real camera, the actual photos that are produced push the focus toward results and can lead to insecurity. Instead, just roleplay the photo session and focus on having fun! We are passionate about creating beautiful experiences that you can share with your friends and family and the best photos come from a place of genuine fun and connection.

4. Show Your Kids What a Camera Looks Like

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Sometimes kids can be scared of cameras, so it’s important to show them what cameras look like before they face one in a photo session

You would think that in this modern world of phones taking pictures of every moment of our lives, our kids would know what a camera looks like. If you have as many pictures of your kids as I do, they may have already been photographed more than you ever will. But there is a big difference between a phone camera and the professional cameras that Photographers use. Professional cameras are surprisingly large and dark, and the lenses can be intimidating for kids!

Pull up some pictures on Google Images or videos on YouTube. Try to find something descriptive. If your kid is interested in technology this could be a really fun event. Talk about the sounds that a camera makes and about how they might feel when they have their picture taken by a big camera. Make sure to acknowledge their feelings while reassuring them that cameras are safe. Hopefully seeing a camera before the session can help them feel at ease!

5. How to Prepare Young Children for a Family Mini Session: Talk through some coping skills!

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Try to remember what it felt like to be a kid. For some, new events can be really nerve-racking. Allow your kids to feel nervous. It’s important to breathe through your feelings and allow them to exist. Instead of saying “Don’t be nervous, this will be fine” say, “It’s ok to be nervous. We can be nervous and excited at the same time.”  

Try some tried and tested coping strategies like the 4-7-8 breathing technique. In this technique you breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this four times for full effect. I can tell you from personal experience that this technique really works! There are so many other good coping strategies out there and everyone is different. Find one that works for you!

Its important that your kids feel comfortable being who they are. Maybe your kid is great at doing new things and never gets scared. That’s great! Maybe your kid has a lot of nervous energy around doing new things though, and that is great too. There are a lot of strengths in a cautious kid. In any case, prepare for big feelings. I’ve noticed that when kids get into a new or unusual situation like a photo session, there might be a lot of anxiety. That anxiety can lead to a lot of outcomes, like freezing up and running around. Remember that these are normal reactions. 

A great way to help your kids feel comfortable during their session is to arrive early. Kids can definitely feel the pressure that you might be putting on them to perform well at the photo session and before they know it they are putting on strange clothes and driving to a new location that they have never seen before. I’ve found that it really helps when families arrive early to their session so the kids can spend some time in the space, familiarizing themselves with it and playing.

6. What Do I Do To Make Sure That Your Kids Feel Safe and Connected During Their Family Photo Session?

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I try to connect with kids in a way that makes them feel safe. I try to get down on their level and chat with them, allowing them to feel whatever they feel for a moment before I start shooting. Sometimes I let them press the button on the camera so they can understand what it is and they can get more comfortable with it. There are a lot of different techniques that I use to help kids smile, but I believe that kids want connection and to feel like they are part of something. That’s why I make sure to talk to them directly and include them.

The most important thing that I do as a family photographer is create genuine moments that we all share. These moments end up full of laughter and real smiles that last a lifetime in your photographs. My hope is that you leave any photo session with me feeling happy and carrying fond memories, and I especially want your children to have a good time.

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Ellie Fuqua, Photographer and owner of Sun and Sparrow

Hi, I’m Ellie, a dreamer, and lover of romantic moments and unrelenting connections. In my 15 years of photographing weddings, my interest in photography has grown from simply making pretty pictures -to creating the most wonderful and powerful moments for kind and loving people, all the while capturing those permanent memories. Creating awe-inspiring imagery to match those unforgettable moments is my dream come true and I hope that by creating your wedding imagery together, we can make your wedding dreams come true too.

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