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Tips to Prepare Your Kids For a Fun and Relaxed Lifestyle Family Photography Session

The very nature of lifestyle photography is relaxed, and is meant to capture you and your family in authentic moments. With its more documentary-type nature, you don't need to force smiles or say cheese. We will play and talk and move and sing and tell jokes & stories. I will capture your gorgeous family in all of your love, spirit, & fun, and sometimes, messiness.

By preparing your children ahead of time, you can maximize the joy. Here are some tips for a smooth and relaxed experience.

boy jumping at a north county San Diego beach photo shoot with parents in the background

I. Tell your children what to expect

A days before the session, tell your children that your friend is going to take some pictures of the family. Explain that you will be going to a really fun beach or park or mountain. Let them know they will be asked to stand or sit in different way and then we are going to play some games. They will be able to sing and tell jokes or stories. It will take about 45 minutes to an hour.

II. Show them other family photos

Most kids love to see photos of themselves. Show them past pictures from your iphone, album or framed print. If kids understand that the experience will result in fun photos, they may be more excited to participate.

siblings playing in the sand at Oceanside Harbor beach family photographer session

III. Make sure everyone is rested

Most sessions are held at the golden hour - either just after sunrise or just before sunset, to get the best light. If we are taking evening photos, put your child down for a late nap the day of the session. If they don’t nap, provide a relaxing and restful experience the afternoon of the photo shoot.

Be sure to clear your schedule so that you aren’t rushing from one activity to the next. Make the photo session the main event of the day.

IV. Make sure they are fed

Feed your children dinner or a big snack before the session. Hangry kids are never easy to work with.

V. Offer a Reward (not a bribe!)

A little before shoot, let them know that after the session you will be going out for a special treat or that you will do a favorite activity as a family. This helps make the whole experience one of bonding and fun.

teen hugging dog at sunset mission beach family photos

VI. Show them my picture

Head over to my about page and show them my picture. This will make me seem more human and relatable. They can call me MJ or Mimi (which is what my grandchildren call me).

VII. To Smile or Not

I will never force your child to smile. If your child smiles, it will be because he/she is authentically happy. It’s ok if they don’t want to smile! Honest, pensive portraits of children are treasures.

dad playing with sons at surf line during Del Mar family photo session

VIII. What about Shy Children?

If your child isn’t comfortable leaving your arms, that is fine. We can still get beautiful pictures of your child.I will never force your child to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable.

If you have any questions about getting your child ready, please shoot me an email. And don’t worry mama, your family is absolutely stunning and beautiful and amazing, and so are you. 😊


MJ Falvey is a beach photographer who documents stories of love and connection. She specializes in in active, vibrant, and joyful photography of people and pets on San Diego's beautiful beaches, especially those of North County San Diego: Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and La Jolla.

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