Over the years, I have had the misfortune to make a few mistakes myself and kill the mood. In the early years of my business, when I was a little bit less confident in running a session, I had a few rough sessions with some moms who were worried about the outcome and didn’t see the child behaving in a way that they thought would result in good photos.
“Smile or I’ll spank you!”
Yes, I really had a mother say this to her daughter during a fairy session. I was completely aghast, and the daughter immediately burst into tears. I was trying to get some close-ups of the daughter’s eyelashes, and I’d specifically told her gently not to smile at that point in time. The mother looked over and saw this moment, and worried that I was getting nothing, so she shouted at her daughter. I spent the next 20 minutes trying to regain that child’s self-confidence and good mood for that session. I have no idea what that mom was thinking. Like, what did she expect would happen? I don’t know how threatening any kid with pain would make them feel happy enough to smile?
Bring everyone and overwhelm the kids
I always tell my clients to bring only the people being photographed. Bringing an entire village just makes things more difficult for me, for the kids, and for you. If I had a dollar for every time I had to tell a grandparent to stand behind me and talk to the baby instead of off to the side, I would definitely be quite well off. I’m not sure how people expect me to get the baby looking at the camera if they are off on the side yelling at the baby trying to get their attention. It happens every time, so I know that people don’t really think it through first, but it certainly helps to just not even have that problem by not having extra people along. Really young children often get very overwhelmed and will start crying if they are faced with a horde of people making silly faces and clapping at them. They get overwhelmed, don’t know where to look, and burst into tears.
Pick apart your daughter’s hair or body (or your own)
Luckily I have only had this happen twice, but it was twice too many. Fairyography sessions boost self-confidence for any age, so it’s important to not undermine that experience. Your daughter cannot enjoy her experience and feel good about herself and how she looks if you tell her that you’re not liking how her hair is, or you say the dress makes her look fat. This also includes posture. Please let me fix the occasional slumpy posture or weird arm. If you nitpick every pose in every location, all we will get is fake smiles and stiff bodies. This includes not screaming “Sit up straight!!” from the sidelines. This goes for moms too!
Hungry kids or parents
I think every human in the world gets hangry at some point. Definitely make sure that everyone including yourself is fed before arrival before photos. Things will go downhill just as fast if you have fed the kids but not yourself.
Never ever on the blue raspberry candy. It stains teeth, dyes lips, and will absolutely cover fingertips if your child is the age where they are sticking their hands in their mouth still. I cannot Photoshop that out, and you will end up with a child that looks like they can’t breathe through the entire photo session.
Breaking out the bribes early
If you tell a child that you have something highly coveted for them after the photo session is done, they will spend the entire photo session worry about if they are done yet. They will ask every five minutes and will get more and more irritated if you tell them they are not done over and over. This goes for any sort of candy that you have with you, to any sort of prize that you have offered them after the shoot like ice cream or a toy. Then they want to hurry through the session and don’t relax enough for me to get authentic smiles, so you just get a session full of fake smiles and stiff poses.
Worrying too much
Do you know how the toddler misses her nap on the absolute worst day ever? They can tell that you are worried about something coming up, this makes them freak out about what’s coming up, and things go from bad to worse. I know it seems a little counterintuitive, but the less worried you are, the less stressed everything will be, and the better it will all go. Be laid-back and curb your fears, and I promise things will turn out magically.