5 Tricks To Get Your Kids To Cooperate For Your Family Portraits

We hope you find our 5 tricks to get your kids to cooperate for your family portraits useful. We all know how stressful it can be getting our kids to cooperate for family portraits. Kids can introduce the element of uncertainty. The younger the more unpredictable. We have many tricks up our sleeves to get kids to smile, look at our camera, and cooperate with us.

Here are our top 5 tricks to get your kids to cooperate for your family portraits.

See Christopher Todd Studios' family portfolio here.

1. Bribe Them

woman and daughters wearing red dresses and denim for family portraits
After this photo was taken, the little girl had a small snack and she perked right up for the rest of the session.
  • Yep, we said it. Have that special treat on hand especially for littles ages 2-4. I won't judge.
  • Bring a pack or two of their favorite treats.
  • Bring their favorite stuffed animal.
  • Tell them they can earn a special treat for later. Ice cream, watch a favorite show, etc.
  • Pre-purchase a small toy from the $.99 Store and bring it to the session. It doesn't have to be a grand toy. Kids love gifts no matter the size.
  • Just be sure to make it special enough that it gets their attention.


brother and sister holding ivy vines wearing white and blue in costa mesa

2. Involve Your Kids In The Planning

  • This is our favorite trick to get your kids to cooperate for photos. Let them help with the planning. Get them involved. When you do this early on and prepare them for what to expect they won’t be surprised.
  • Their willingness to participate will be higher.
  • Include them in picking out a new outfit for the photos. Get more wardrobe tips.
  • Let them help decide on the location. Even if you have the last say, including them will create excitement.
  • Let them know what you expect from them during the session. Behavior, cooperation, and willingness to participate.
  • Give them a job or responsibility to do. " You are in charge of making sure everyone's shirts are tucked in properly."
family portrait at central park in huntington beach
Plan your family portrait during your vacation.

3. Get Plenty Of Sleep

  • Get plenty of sleep the night before. This goes for all ages.
  • Don’t schedule a portrait 10 hours after a redeye flight back from Paris.  I once had a family do this.
  • Avoid scheduling a sleepover the night before.  We all know how those go, let's not have little Mr. Grumpy refusing to cooperate because he only got 4 hours of sleep.
  • A good night's sleep before your family session will do wonders for the outcome of your portraits.

4. Choose The Best Time Of Day

  • Let us know when the best time of day is for your family.
  • If you have littles and you know they will be a terror if they don't nap. We can help you schedule around nap time.
  • Be sure to block out plenty of time to get ready. Rushing to get dressed only ads to the chaos.
  • Don’t rush from a play date or a sporting event to your photo session.
  • If you are looking for golden lighting or sunset photos we will help you plan for that.

5. Make Sure Bellies Are Full & Hydrated

black and white photo of boy with chocolate on face
  • Make sure everyone is well fed so we don’t get any hangry folks. This advice goes for parents as well.
  • It’s ok to bring small snacks and water to the shoot. But it is advised to limit these and possibly use them to get kids to cooperate.
  • Staying well-hydrated is always beneficial. Bring a water bottle. We all know kids they will be dying of thirst the second you get out of the car. LOL
  • Plan a bottle-feeding right when you get to the location for a really happy baby.

Bottom Line/pro tips To Get Your Kids To Cooperate

For fun and stressfree family portrait session follow our 5 tricks to get your kids to cooperate. If your child won’t smile or cooperate let us try to work with them. It is best not to tell them to "smile or else."  Sometimes a great portrait takes more patience and some time. Together we can get this accomplished.

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