Got a family photo shoot planned this fall? Arranging to have professional photos taken can be a little tricky when you have small children in tow, but have no fear – Krista Campbell, a portrait photographer in northwest Arkansas, gave a few easy tips on how to get the most out of your family’s photo session to Clickin’ Moms, THE place for all things family photography. See below:

Be well rested and fed

This seems like a no brainer, but be certain not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime.  Campbell tells Clickin’ Moms, “The best time for lighting is the two hours before sunset and after sunrise.  If this is a bad time for your children, talk with your photographer. Good photographers will be able to shoot at any time of day by utilizing areas of open shade that will give your skin a beautiful hue and put a sparkle in your eyes. Don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach. I meet many families who come to a photo session with dinner scheduled at the end. If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot.”

Leave plenty of time to get ready

Time is always of the essence, especially when you’re a parent. I loved this advice from Campbell, who knows that mom is probably the one who arranged the shoot in the first place. She writes, “I always encourage mothers to have their hair and makeup professionally done. This will prepare mom for her pictures and when mom is feeling pretty and confident, this will reflect on the rest of the family as well. Leave plenty of time for showers, baths, dressing, and grooming. When a family shows up to a family photo session rushed and disorganized, it sets the tone for a rushed and disorganized session. Give yourself extra time so that you are ready before it’s time to head out that door.”

Think of an activity to do while you’re shooting

Yes! Children are going to get squirmy REAL fast if they’re just being held and asked to smile over and over. Campbell suggests thinking of an activity that your family loves to do together and incorporating that into your photo shoot. She notes, “This gives you something to do with your hands and feet, engages the little ones, and brings an authentic smile to your face. Do you love to read together? Bring some books. Is your favorite dessert ice cream? Bring some ice cream bars or drumsticks to your session or better yet… hire an ice cream truck to come to your session. Love to play board games or cards? Plan to play a round of Uno or Monopoly during your family photo session. Other ideas include: football, piggy back rides, races, bike riding, hiking, singing, picnics, the ideas are endless. When families are engaged in doing something that they love together, the photographer will have the opportunity to take some beautiful and authentic photographs.”

Have fun!

Last but not least, have fun and don’t be afraid to be silly. Campbell encourages families to keep it casual, saying, “Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and toss them in the air. Give your wife a sweet kiss on the check. Tell your husband how much you love him and appreciate him for being there for your family. Have fun. Laugh. Giggle. Joke. Embrace. Kiss. Snuggle. Play. Doing these things will allow the photographer to capture the emotion and true beauty of your family. Leave the stiff “cheese” faces for Aunt Marge at the next family reunion. Show your photographer who you really are, so that she has the opportunity to capture your love through her lens.”