Let’s face it, the thought of keeping little kids awake past their bedtime makes moms and dad shudder. Not only will they be off schedule, but they’re supposed to be smiley and agreeable for a sunset family photos? Insanity! Here are 5 tips to help keep your kids awake for your session.
5 Tips for Successful Sunset Family Photos
1. PUSH NAPPING KIDS TO NAP LATER
You know those days when you feel frustrated because your kiddo doesn’t want to go down for their nap at the “right” time? Take advantage of it on family photo day. Push that little napper for 30-60 minutes past their normal nap time to give yourself a little flexibility later in the evening. If you have a child who doesn’t regularly nap anymore but you know a car ride late in the afternoon might induce one….do it.
2. KEEP THE DAY LOW-KEY. (HECK, EVEN THE DAY BEFORE!)
What do I mean by this? Don’t take your kids to the beach or pool the day of your session. Don’t plan an overnight trip and return the day prior. Keep things calm and normal. Make sure everyone starts photo day on a good note. The post-trip-to-grandma’s meltdown day is not the day you want to schedule family photos for.
3. DON’T LET YOUR KIDDO NAP IN THE CAR ON THE WAY IF THEY TEND TO WAKE UP GRUMPY!
This is a big one. If your kid isn’t the happy-go-lucky type who can wake and be ready to go with a smile, don’t let them take a late nap on the way. This might mean breaking out the tablets or having a parent climb into the back for entertainment. Let’s say the day is a disaster and your kiddo WON’T nap. Go for a drive well before the session to get that inevitable car nap done earlier in the day. If this isn’t an option, consider leaving early so that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your session time. Use that time to slowly wake your napper up, give them a snack, and get them acclimated.
4. BRING SOME SPECIAL SNACKS
Even if you follow all these tips, some kids will still feel a little sleepy and grouchy past their bedtime (though I promise it’s rare). A special treat with a little jolt of sugar can be hugely helpful! Think something like fruit snacks or marshmallows, that won’t leave stains versus M+M’s.
5. HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO ROLLS WITH THE PUNCHES.
In my opinion, it’s rare to find a toddler who will want to sit and smile with their family for more than…10 seconds. Toddlers want to run, laugh, chase, and explore. Most toddlers that I photograph are totally happy in the outdoor destination we choose and as long as mom and dad are happy and playful, they are happy and playful too!
Because of this, I keep my sessions relaxed and child-led. If they need to run, we take action shots. I will continually try new games and activities to entice them into giving me a second of a smile. One out of every ten kiddos might have a little bit of a hard time but I guarantee you couldn’t guess which one did if you looked at all the final galleries.