I recently had the honor of photographing sweet Quinn's 1 year milestone photos. It has been so lovely watching this family grow. I shot Chandler's maternity photos, Quinn's at-home newborn photos, and the whole family's fall photos this past year. Watching Kyle and Chandler's joy for parenthood has been so refreshing, and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for them.

While I share some precious images from their session, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some tips I have that will help your family session go as smoothly as possible!

Come with full bellies.

Hanger is real. Sometimes the best daylight is around your usual dinner time, so I recommend planning to eat an early dinner or have a substantial snack before getting in the car (maybe before getting dressed to avoid spills, t00!). This goes for parents, too!

Bring snacks.

Do you notice a theme here? :) You may think you fed the kids enough before you left for your shoot, but kids have a way of surprising you at the most inopportune of moments.

I recommend snacks that are less likely to stain fingers, mouths, and clothes such as:

Goldfish or peanut butter crackers, pretzels, bananas, nuts, fruit/yogurt squeeze pouches (avoid the dark colored ones!), non-chocolate granola bars

Don't forget a water bottle, too!

Be well rested.

While I like to shoot at specific times of day based off of lighting and other factors, I'm happy to find a mutually agreeable time based on your children's nap times. As a mother myself, I know that nap time is sacred, and a tired child historically doesn't do well for photos.

Also, try not to over-schedule the rest of your photo session day. Even if your session doesn't interfere with a nap time, if you and your kids spent all morning at the zoo, went to a birthday party, and then had a sporting event, someone is bound to be tired at the session - even if that is you, the parent.

Show up on time

Try your best to show up to your session on time. I try my best to schedule sessions to have the best lighting conditions. I also will occasionally shoot sessions back-to-back. If you're late to your session you could compromise both the quality and quality of images you'll receive in your final gallery.

Go easy on discipline

I know that photo session day can be stressful and triggering for everyone, even if you've done all the proper planning; however, I highly recommend as gentle of discipline as possible - not just during your shoot, but during the entire day leading up to it.

Being nagged and/or heavily reprimanded can stick with children for a surprisingly long time and can put kids in a headspace that doesn't encourage cooperation during your session.

Bring emotional support items

It is totally okay to bring pacifiers, lovies, blankets, or their favorite stuffed animal - in fact I recommend it. I've discovered that, typically, the best way to approach these is to hide them in your bag until absolutely necessary - since they typically don't want to part with them once they have them. But, even with them, we can get some truly sweet images.

Have a good attitude yourself.

Understatement of the century: kids will feed off of your attitude.

Kids are so smart. They can tell when you're stressed, anxious, or frustrated. If you come with a good attitude, odds are your children are going to mimic your behavior. Photo sessions often put kids in environments (and clothes!) that are unfamiliar to them. They look to you parents as their barometer for how to feel about what's going on during your session.

Have fun!

I like to tell my clients, "get ready to snuggle and play with the people you love most for the next hour or so!"

This is the benefit of not relying on heavily styled or stiff poses. Your kids can explore, cuddle, dance, twirl, tickle, and swing with you... Basically they can be what they are. A kid.