Whoops... Everything is Going Wrong

How To Prepare for A Family Session And Enjoy It

Mentally this is how I imagine every session will be. Peaceful and everything going just as planned. However, reality likes to keep things a lot more interesting.

Mentally this is how I imagine every session will be. Peaceful and everything going just as planned. However, reality likes to keep things a lot more interesting.


Planning, organizing and efficiency are my jam. If you need a wedding planned in two weeks, I can tell you how. If you want a mountain of work broken down into manageable chunks, I’ve got a system for that. To-do lists, action points, bench marks: those are music to my over achieving ears. Create a plan, think through all the contingencies and then follow that plan to the fullest possible extent. That in a nutshell would be my life goal, if it weren’t for one thing… I’m a family photographer.

All of that planning, type-A-ish-ness, works great for keeping myself focused in the office. That’s how I manage staying on top of everything that goes on in life. However, I can sit around all day long planning the most amazing session, and as soon as I show up at the location, all of that planning can go out the window the minute I introduce myself to the kids.


Kids… They’re the cutest, most precious, plan ruining creatures on the face of the planet. So sweet and adorable, yet at the same time completely unpredictable. Kids have a way of making sessions very different from what was planned. Sometimes it’s that a child doesn’t want to be there and no amount of coaxing, bribing or threatening on behalf of the parents is going to make them change their minds. Other times, a child is simply TOO happy to have their picture taken and in their high good spirits they decide that following simple instructions is the time to let the hammiest version of themselves shine forth. The possibilities of what could “go wrong” are infinite.

It took a while for my plan-making nature to find the delicate balance between having a plan and rolling with whatever happens. So like any good planner I’ve devised a near-fool proof system, to deal with maintaining a balance, that I think would be helpful for anyone who feels daunted by the idea of having a session with young kids.

  1. Everything is An Adventure.

Going into a session, I find it’s important to manage my expectations. I don’t make grand plans that revolve around everything going perfectly. Instead, I plan that kids could be cranky, and have a totally different agenda from mine. This is when I have decide not to be frazzled, and make the most of what I’m given. If every little thing that comes up becomes an adventure instead of an obstacle, I find that not only does my outlook change entirely, but also I can help to change my clients perspective, about how to handle situations.

2. Learn to Say Yes To Different

It’s easy to get caught up in wanting everything to look picture perfect. It’s appealing to think about families with small children sitting still in perfectly neat clothing in the best possible lighting. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, there’s something equally beautiful about embracing things as they come.


3. Enjoy the Moment

The longer I do photography, the more acutely aware I am of the fact that time goes by so quickly. I see this especially when I photograph the same family several years in a row. Children grow and change so fast. As much as there are times that I wish I could control a certain scene, there are so many times after the fact I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to capture a small child how they are right then, in that moment. When I look at it like that I realize that sometimes the craziest moments are the most special gifts.

Holly Van DintelComment