4 ways to get your kids to cooperate for photos

The other day my daughter and I were shopping together when she showed me a shirt that made us both laugh. It said “No pictures please.”

We got a good giggle out of this because my daughter doesn’t like getting her pictures taken by me. Maybe it’s because photography is my passion (and my profit) so it’s her way to rebel against the thing she knows I love. I think many photographers’ kids are like this:

{This is his “Enough pictures, Mom” face}

{This is my failed attempt to get a good photo of all three of them together}

So whether you’re a photographer whose kids have had one too many pictures taken and are burnt out or whether you are a Mama whose kids just don’t warm up in front of the camera, here’s 4 effective ways for getting your kids to cooperate for photos.

1. Make it a date

At least once a year I try to do a special session with my children to document their growth and just plain cuteness. We make it a big deal where we choose a special outfit or two, some fun props, and they get Mommy all to themselves on this special evening. I usually take them out for their dessert afterwards like hot cocoa, cake, ice cream, etc. This is a great motivator for good behavior and a fun memory maker.

2. Keep them Busy
It’s important to keep children busy so they don’t get bored or start misbehaving. That’s the main reason that I bring along non-cheesy, picturesque props such as bubbles, wooden toys, wagons, balls, etc. I also have them DO something like jump on the bed, play peek-a-boo, etc. so they will open up and be themselves and forget that their picture is being taken.

3. Use potty words

Let’s be real. When you bust out the bathroom talk, kids ages 2-10 (and beyond) think it’s the funniest thing ever. Especially to hear Mom say it. So yes, I use this when technique on my own children when needed. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

3. When all else fails: Bribery, baby!

I am not past using a little bribery now and then to get a good photograph. Smarties, Cheerios, and a treasure box are a photographer’s best friend in getting kids to do what you want them to do. I’ve found that Smarties and Cheerios are easy bribery for young children and create the least amount of mess. Treasure boxes filled with inexpensive goodies work really well for older children and I’m sure money would work well for your teenagers, depending on how desperate you are to get the pic.


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  1. I so often hear parents threaten their kids… I’ve done it too. I’ll admit it! But I ALWAYS tell my parents, “Threaten with a smile on your face so I can keep taking pictures. You never know what will turn out cute!” You’d be shocked! And then, when they stare at the huge image that is REALLY darling on their wall, they get a kick out of knowing that they were telling their little one, “I’M GUNNA THROW AWAY EVERY LAST PIECE OF HALLOWEEN CANDY IF YOU DON’T LOOK AT HER AND SMILE!!!!!” Love it!