4 Things To Tell Parents Before a Family Session

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Today’s feature is from Madeleine Jonsson Licht.

Madeleine says:

“This session was shot at sunset at Seal Beach in southern California. The location is very near and dear to the clients’ hearts as they live nearby and visit several times a week.”

Madeleine’s Photography Tip:

I love working with kids! But as we all know it can be challenging photographing families with younger kids.

To get mom and dad in the right mindset for the session and to relax, I always send out an email before our session letting them know what to expect – not just from me, but from the kids.

Here are some of the things I go over:

  1. The kids will probably try to run away. Or cry. Or hide behind mom/dad, nor not look at the camera, etc. etc. – and that this is all totally fine! If the kids start to act up, it is OK! I want parents to know this is normal so they don’t freak out.
  2. I ask them to not tell the kids what to do or where to look. Having more than one person giving you directions can be super frustrating for a child.
  3. Don’t yell or raise their voice. If the child doesn’t want to cooperate, yelling and/or raising voices will only make for a bad experience for everyone. You want your clients (big and small) to enjoy the session, not remember it as one big family fight.
  4. Ask if I can bring snacks for the kids. These don’t have to be complicated, and can be things like raisins, M&K’s, a sucker, etc. I want mom and dad to feel like the only thing they need to do is show up and be relaxed, and that I will handle the rest.

When it comes time for the session, my sessions are always about the kids. Right when they pull up to the location I greet the kids before I even talk to the parents.

I’ll ask them things like, “Hey who’s ready to play some games? If you do good I have a surprise for you! Don’t tell mom and dad.. it’s a secret!”

That way, you have the kids on-board from the get-go. If a pose or game isn’t working out the way I planned it, if I can tell the kids are getting restless or bored, we move on right away.

I always follow the kids’ lead and never make them do something they don’t want to do (like holding hands, sitting down if they want to stand up, etc).

All this makes for a smooth session – happy photographer, happy parents, and most importantly – happy kids.

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Madeleine used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Sigma 50mm ART lens and a Canon 35mm 1.4 lens to capture these images.

Madeleine Jonsson Licht is a Southern California Maternity, Newborn, Family and Children’s portraiture photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Working with Children.


Prepping clients for a session via email is fun – it gets them excited, makes sure they’re ready and know what to expect, etc.

But how do you deal with the difficult client situations and emails? It’s not easy. Pick up a package of templates to help you through it and make sure you not only cover the situation, but also do it with the best possible customer service.

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