As a parent myself and as friends with many other parents, I get it now.

The collective opinion is this: We want photos, nice photos…but…our kids are not going to sit and smile so it’s probably a huge mistake to hire a photographer.

And to a certain degree this is true. If you expect a photographer to really capture your child in a 10 minute photo session where they are forced to sit on a wooden block and not move, it’s not going to happen. Kids like to explore and be goofy. They need time to warm up and feel comfortable and develop trust in this new adult with a big camera.

Only then can magic happen. Here are four common fears and why you can say goodbye to them!

Worry One: My kids don’t like to have their photos taken. And if they do, it’s for three minutes. Not for over an hour.

Completely normal. About 75% of kids hate having their photo taken. I go in to each session expecting them to not cooperate with the age old “1, 2, 3, SMILE!” Kids love novelty and while I can’t disclose all of my secrets, I will assure you that the majority of the session will involve games, scavenger hunts, and silly songs. Sometimes, I even dance. See, it’s my job to make them laugh and to make them feel like it’s playtime, not photo time.

Worry Two: What if the kiddos don’t behave?

See Worry One. Your only job during a session to assist me in keeping your children safe. I usually choose locations that allow little legs to run around in circles for just this purpose. But photos almost always come out better when mom and dad take a short walk out of sight so that I can get to know your children. You’re welcome to watch us from afar, of course. But no telling your kiddos to smile or to sit here or there. Just sit back, relax, and let me coach your family for a while. Kids have a knack for turning on the charm for adults who aren’t their parents. Let’s harness that power.

Worry Three: I have NO idea what to wear!

Let me guess, your husband has only a few nice shirts that are appropriately casual and they are all blue. You have a dress that’s nice but it makes your hips look weird plus it doesn’t match the nice outfit your son just started fitting into. And none of that will match blue either. So you have nothing, basically.

I’ve come up with an easy way to guide you that works for most families. Decide who is the most difficult to dress and choose their outfit first. Based on that outfit, identify two colors (example: gray and blue, red and brown, purple and yellow, etc) and dress everyone else accordingly. You all want to look like you belong together. If dad lives in t-shirts, dress him in t-shirts for goodness sake! Let your family look like they usually do. Layers are good, bold patterns are discouraged. And because seeing is believing, check out these inspiration boards.

Worry Four: My kids will probably be cranky afterward. Ugh.

Below are photos of five kiddos about five minutes after a two hour photo session. Lollipops were courtesy of yours truly and the photos were taken by dad. He conducted a little contest to see who could make the funniest face. Not only were the kids content and giggly, but they also voluntarily consented to dad’s phone pictures–after TWO hours of being photographed by me.

If that’s not reassurance that you can have a great family photo experience, I’m not sure what is.

See the highlights of this family’s session!