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Meet Chelsea. Corporate-America dropout, lover of all things old and firm believer in loving without counting the cost. 

MEET Chelsea

A family photography session can be a stressful event for Mom’s, Dad’s & kids alike. But they don’t have to be! As a photographer and Mother of 2 boys myself, I get the feeling. You want your kids to behave so that you can get beautiful photos of your happy family – keyword, HAPPY. After all, these photos are going to be displayed on your walls and in heirloom albums. With these 10 Tricks for Happy Kids during photoshoots you’ll have stunning photos no matter what your toddler throws (figuratively, or physically) at you.

Prepare them for the family photoshoot

Little kids don’t like to be surprised when it comes to their daily rhythms. It can make them feel out of control and a little anxious. So this first of the 10 Tricks for Happy Kids during photoshoots is a biggie. A couple days before the session, start talking about it. Tell your child about the session and explain the whole experience — from getting dressed up, to driving to the location, to behaving well at the session, to what you’ll do after. That way, on session day, they’re prepared mentally for the event.

Plan something special for after the photoshoot

Whether it’s a trip to your favorite ice cream shop or to the store for that toy they’ve been eyeing. Tell them what you’re going to do after and they’ll be thrilled to cooperate.

Bring comfort items to the photography session

Bring their favorite stuffed animal, toy or blanket as comfort items for when they’re upset. Stickers are another great thing to bring as we can ask them to stick them on Mom, Dad, or siblings to create some faux connection when they want no part in being touchy feely.

Enlist the bigger kids help

If you have older kids, they can be great models of the behavior we want to see. Ask them before to be your helper with the little one(s) and that way we have everyone working together on the effort.

Bring snacks to the family photography session

Bring snacks that are relatively mess-free and colorless as rewards for cooperating. Puffs, teethers, crackers, or cheerios are great options. Try to avoid chocolate and bright, gummy candy for obvious reasons.

Nap Timing

We should try our best to schedule the session for after their nap and not too close to bedtime. It can be harder to do as the sunset gets later in the day, but we can still make magic even if it isn’t golden hour.

Plan your family session around meal timing

Similar to the last two, but do make sure they’re well fed before the session. Hungry toddlers aren’t the most friendly to the camera. Although, I don’t blame them! Hungry adults aren’t fun, either.

Be early to your family photography session

Give yourself plenty of buffer time to get to the session a bit early. That way when the inevitable potty break or meltdown happens, we have the time to give them what they need and calm them down.

Roll with It

During the session, be excited yourself! Don’t stress and put too much pressure on them. Let them be kids and roll with the punches. 

Connect no matter what

During the session, smile & show affection no matter what is happening. Tickle, kiss, dance, touch noses, snuggle, etc  Those seemingly small actions will help with their mood and will be beautiful moments to capture.


Find a photographer who has plenty of experience with photographing children. It can make all the difference and relieve so much stress off of your shoulders to work with someone who expects the inevitable mishap and can still make magic in the midst of meltdowns.

Family standing in field on path near denver photography by Chelsea Sliwa photography
Little boy and Mother walking in field on path near Denver photography by Chelsea Sliwa photography
Little boy hugging Mother in field on path
Family photography session of a family walking in field
Family photography session of a pregnant woman standing in field on path.
Family photoshoot of a little boy standing in field on path with mom.
Mother and son walking in field near Denver, CO.
Denver family photography session with a mother and son in field.
Mother and son in field near Denver Photography
Photoshoot of a mother and Father in field.
Mother in field near Denver Photography
Family photography session in a field.
Family session in field.
Family photoshoot of a mother in field .
Father and toddler in field near Denver Photography
Toddler in field for a family photography session.
Denver family photography session with a Mother and Father in field.
Toddler in field near Denver Photography
Father and toddler in field near Denver Photography
Family in field for a Denver photography session.

Film: Fuji400

Lab: Photovision Prints

Family standing in field on path near denver photography by Chelsea Sliwa photography

10 Tricks for Happy Kids During Photoshoots

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