How to have a Meltdown-Free Family Photo Session | Erin Fox Families

June 16, 2020


You just loaded the kids up in the car. One of them already has to pee and you’re not even out of the driveway. The other one is hangry and crying. And the two in the back seat are pulling each other’s hair out. You’ve been there before, right?

But really, a family photo session isn’t complete without at least one meltdown. And that is completely okay. Kids have meltdowns every day, as you all know.

But taking the “dreaded family photos” doesn’t always have to be so hard.

Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks from other moms and dads to help kiddos stay engaged and get excited about taking photos. And, decrease the chance of a meltdown.

Make “taking family photos” a “family adventure” instead.

“Off to Never Never Land!” Grab your kids and tell them they’re going on an adventure! They’ll get to play outside, see some animals, and maybe even get a reward!

Phrases like “Smile really big for the camera,” or “Say cheese,” may take away from the adventure and put a lot of pressure on kiddos. Remind them it’s a fun family adventure at the park and the camera is just an added bonus!

Bring the snacks (fuel).

What’s one thing your little ones love the most? Goldfish? Fruit Snacks? Go-Gurts? Use their favorite snacks as a reward system and fuel to keep the energy up during the session. 

Arrive 30 minutes early.

We’ve all been there before – you’re stuck gathering your things and running out the door last minute. Allow yourself more than enough time for potty breaks, snack breaks, outfit changes, diaper changes, etc. along the way. You won’t be sorry!

Bring the toys, the music, and the goofiness.

Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. . . I’ve found that some of my best photos happen when mom and dad bust out the Baby Shark song and we all start to dance and sing along. So don’t be afraid to whip out your phone and start a dance party with your kids. And feel free to bring along your child’s favorite stuffed animals, blankets, or toys, too!

Take breaks.

Let’s be real, kids lose interest with anything in a matter of minutes. And that’s to be expected! Encourage small breaks throughout photos. One way I break up the session is to have families walk to a new location every 10 minutes or so. It keeps the little ones entertained so they don’t get tired and lose interest.

Give the kids a reward.

Sam’s mom said if he did well during photos, he’d get a giant cookie at the end. Throughout the session, he had a few close calls that almost cost him his giant cookie.

It may not work every time, but bribery can be our best friend. Giving your kids something to look forward to at the end will work wonders, whether it be a trip to pick out a new toy or a bowl of ice cream.

Let’s keep expectations real – there are no guarantees here. Kids may have meltdowns at any point, but I hope these tips help you to enjoy your next family photo session, meltdown-free.

Interested in learning more about a family session with me? Check out more info here!





Erin Fox Photo is a wedding photographer serving clients from coast to coast