Increase Your Odds For Better Family Photos

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…while having fun!


Let’s have F-U-N!

I know- sounds easier said than done, right? I’m pretty Type-A myself, and I’ve learned to be a heckuva lot more flexible as a parent. The world of parenthood has humbled me and taught me to just roll with the punches. You can’t control each and every move your kiddo makes, and it’s certainly not easy watching your child stumble while attempting a new milestone.

So as a mother who has outsourced a countless number of photography sessions for her own family- I can relate to the stress and struggle. Every year that flies by, I realize how much my kids have grown. I just want to just freeze their cute little faces forever! But I’d often obsess over perfection and executing all the little details. It created a lot of pressure for myself and tension come annual family photo day- not fun for anyone in our household.


I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a few simple tricks that parents can implement for the next set of family portraits…

Maximize cooperation??! It’s easier said than done, you say? I’m well aware. I’ve come across loads of different personality types, both in adult-sized and in the most miniature form.

To help you out, I’ve put together a few of my favorite tips that have worked best for me. Check them out below!



tip 1.



In other words, YOUR energy is going to be matched by your child(ren)- and anyone else around you. It’s real important that you’re not stressed out during your shoot. You know yourself best, so set yourself up for success by removing those triggering stressors so you can fully enjoy yourself. If your child sees you in a fun, relaxed, playful mood during your shoot, they’ll more likely to be less shy, more open to direction, and show off their little personality. Just remember, moods are contagious!



tip 2.


Set Yourself Up for Success

Do all the things leading up to your family shoot to help you prepare in advance and have back-up items, just in case.

  • Try those clothes on in advance so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute for a wardrobe item that ended up fitting poorly.

  • Make sure your crew doesn’t show up with low blood sugar because they’re hangry!

prep for success

It never hurts to have a backup plan!



tip 3.



Regardless of whatever is happening at any time, just smile- or better yet, giggle! If you’re in the range of my camera, it looks a heck of a lot better if you’re caught smiling and laughing in the background VS. stressed and mentally trying to micro-manage the scene.

Laughter really is the best medicine, and an extra bonus? You’ll decrease stress hormones, trigger your endorphins (those natural feel-good chemicals in our bodies), and increase your immune response (YES PLEASE to all the disease-resisting self-improvements!!).


just smile

After all, laughter is the best medicine!


tip 4.



It’s human nature to be motivated by some sort of incentive, so I’m never above bribes!

The younger the child, the more of an instant gratification reward you’ll likely need (i.e. non-messy edible snack/treat). My own kiddos are a bit older now, so when we all get dressed up, we like to make the most of our efforts by rewarding ourselves with dinner at a restaurant, or a pit stop to get dessert afterwards!


rewards are motivating

‘My kid declined a treat’, said no parent ever.


tip 5.


the big picture

(Pun-intended, ha!)

I tend to be the ‘staff sergeant’ of the family- I’m programmed to think in detail and step-by-step functions, and my husband is quite the opposite. I’ve learned over the years that he operates on a more global function, focusing on the end result vs. HOW we get there. You can call it a good yin-yang balance, but it’s taught me that it’s the overall BIG picture to keep in mind.

As a type-A mama myself, I’m 100% aware of the vulnerable nature of being in front of the lens. But those who have worked with me before are well aware that I’m hard-wired to default to flatter mama. All the time. We all know that if mom doesn’t like the picture, no one will ever see it.

Big picture: Trust your photographer, let the little things go.

Kids are unpredictable. Accept that everyone is going to do things in a different way, and that’s totally okay.

Life’s too short. It’s important to document the humans that mean the most in your life in the most perfectly imperfect way.


life’s too short

It’s important to document the ones that mean the most in a perfectly imperfect way.

So, ready to nail your next family photo shoot?!


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Jenny Grimm is a maternity, newborn and family lifestyle photographer based in Chicago. She regularly photographs in the city and the greater Chicagoland area suburbs (including Wilmette, Winnetka, Evanston, Deerfield, Glencoe, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Northbrook, Western Springs, Downers Grove and more).