family of four snuggling in front of a cherry tree while holding their young girls up over their shoulders

Don’t Say These Two Things to Your Kids Before Your Next Photo Session!

I know all too well the stress that comes with preparing for a family photo shoot. After all, I’m a mom of two (very wild!) boys and we’ve been on the other side of the camera several times. After photographing families in the Boston area for 9 years now, I’ve seen it all and know what generally works and doesn’t when it comes to preparing for a family photo session. The following two phrases are best to avoid saying in the days or hours leading up to your session.

family of four tickles and snuggles young girls in front of cherry blossoms

1. You have to behave.

Ohhhhhh, there are so many reasons not to say this one!!! First off, it does not set you up for success as it subtly implies that the session won’t be fun. There’s this underlying expectation that your children have to stand still, do as they’re told, and keep silliness at bay. In my opinion, it sounds somewhat combative, and if your child is anything like my oldest, they’ll be more inclined to dig their heels in before they even get out of the car.

family of four hanging out at the Boston Esplanade with toddler daughter on her dad's shoulder

Secondly (and this one may sound surprising), but typically I’ll snag some of the cutest in-between moments of the whole session when your child isn’t “behaving.” The wild moments where your child is running away and you’re scooping them up, or tickling them to keep them on the blanket a little longer, are the moments that you’ll want in print. Heck, even a pouty, grumpy face makes for an ADORABLE portrait of a little one. In fact, sometimes I find the hardest sessions to be the rare ones in which a child is very subdued and sits and stares at me the whole time. Those sessions are devoid of real emotion, and if you’re hiring me, that’s probably not what you’re really after to begin with. Whichhhh leads to the next thing I don’t want you to say…

family of four hanging out at the Boston Esplanade with toddler daughter on dad's shoulders

2. Say Cheese for Melissa.

The advantage of hiring a fellow mom of young kids (and elementary teacher!) as your photographer is that I come fully equipped with all of the potty humor and ridiculous jokes in the world to get your kids *really* laughing.I don’t want anyone to look at me stiffly and say cheese. That’s not who your kid is and not how you’ll want to remember them. Honestly. I’ve got this one under control ;). In fact, if you’re new here, check out this Instagram post of mine to see another tool in my bag o’ tricks!

mother infant daughter photos with cherry blossoms in the background

If you’ve had a professional photo session before, whether it was with me or another Boston family photographer, there’s a chance you may have said these things to your kids. And if you did, that’s okay! It probably all worked out anyway, or maybe your photographer helped steer you away from that approach during the session. This post is simply to help your *next* session go as smoothly as possible! If you’re ready to embrace the chaos of a photo shoot that involves no cheese faces and no “behaving,” reach out here. I’d love to hear from you!


Oh hey! I’m Melissa, a Boston family & newborn photographer, but I like to refer to myself as a toddler-whispering, child-taming, photographic ninja.