"I can't believe you got one of her smiling, she seemed to be playing up the whole time!"
"I'm worried they'll mess around."
"My littlest one is so shy, I'm not sure you'll even get him to look at you."
"Abi, you were so amazing with the children. It's like magic - you made it so much fun and captured their true personalities."
A recent client admitted that she'd been waiting three years to book her photoshoot. Why? She was worried that her children wouldn't behave.
This makes me sad for a few reasons...
However, I get that it can be nerve-wracking. You're investing money in photos and your goal is happy families. Of course, you want photos that show you all smiling and having fun.
So, I thought I'd share the top six concerns that I hear about having a photoshoot. And why I think you needn't worry!
I'm a mum. I am far from perfect, and the same goes for my kids. I know what it's like!
I'm not looking for two hours of your kids on their best behaviour. I just need them to relax and have a bit of fun.
I have been told that I have a 'magic way' with kids and the 'patience of a saint'. Really, I just love to get silly, play the fool and generally mess around! The end result being that children usually respond well to this.
I also state my 'split second rule': My camera takes a photo in a fraction of a second. I only need your child to be smiling or behaving for that fraction of a second and I've got a great image. I'm aiming to take about 40-50 photos on a family shoot. So that's 50 seconds in a 1-2 hour window that I need them to behave - I'm working on pretty good odds!
If they decide to have a tantrum or frown during the session, my advice is to chill and let them do their thing. We'll move onto something else fun and they'll soon get it out of their system.
Good! Sitting still is boring...
For young children (as soon as they can walk up to the age of ten) I recommend an outdoor photoshoot. There's very little sitting still. Instead, there's going for an explore in the woods, climbing on fallen tree trunks, seeing who can jump the highest or run the fastest.
Put simply we're out for a walk, and we will stop every so often along the way for photos; but it will be fun, so they won't notice that I'm actually getting them smiling for the camera.
I have lots of tricks to keep children interested. I get mum and dad involved in this too - tickling and being silly - it should be fun for everyone (this works on studio shoots too, so if you decide you'd prefer a studio shoot, that's also fine!).
I often get feedback at the end of a session that it's flown by and was much easier than expected. That's exactly how it should feel!
Every child is different. I understand that some can take a while to warm up and may be a little shy at first. I allow up to two hours for a photoshoot, which gives us plenty of time for them to get used to me and come out of their shell.
I'll find a topic their interested in (whether it's cars, dinosaurs, ballet or their favourite TV show) and we'll chat about it - no camera, just chatting on their level. It's rare that I can't tempt a little smile out of even the most timid child.
The 'split second rule' applies here too - I need a smile or eye contact for less than a second!
Sometimes families are surprised that we'll end the session with their children holding my hand and chatting away about their friends at school, when at the start they'd hidden behind mum or dad's legs.
Worst-case scenario, I don't necessarily need them to talk to me - as long as they're interacting with you and having fun, you'll get beautiful natural images.
Ah, the great British weather. I'm an outside photographer in the UK, I'm used to being flexible. If it rains on the day you've booked, then we have three options: we watch the weather and aim for dry periods during the day; we move to another day; or if you're the outdoorsy type, we pull on some wellies and have some fun jumping in puddles.
Me too! I'd rather be behind the camera than in front of it. I often describe myself as a photographer for people who hate having their photo taken - I know how it feels, so I aim to keep you as relaxed as possible.
If you feel awkward in front of the camera, then the same rules apply for you as for the kids - we go for a walk, we have some fun and mess around - there's no standing still and posing for ages. If there are particular things you don't like about yourself in photos, then please tell me, I have lots of tips for flattering poses!
So many mums tell me they're waiting to lose weight before having a photoshoot. For every week, month or year that you wait, your child is another week, month or year older. Don't wait until they're no longer small - make the memories now!
Your kids, your friends and your family all love you for who you are - none of them think any less of you for carrying an extra stone or two.
The only person it matters to is you... and I understand: we want to look our best in photos. I have lots of posing tips that help flatter figures and help you look like the best version of you. I also provide clothing advice before a session and I'm more than happy to discuss what to wear to flatter.
And the best bit about family photos is that kids make great shields! We'll position them in front of you and they'll hide nearly everything but your face.
I hope this helps to put you at ease for your photoshoot. If you have any other concerns that I haven't addressed here, then please do add them in the comments, as I'd love to help more people feel happier having photos taken!