When taking photos with babies and Toddlers, you may feel a bit frazzled. You have one child that holds still and another running wild! When you have a Newborn Session with siblings, you become the child wrangler!
I have four kids of my own so I always have a few tricks up my sleeve, but I am going to share some ideas with you that have worked for me:
1. Give the kids somewhere to sit or stand:
I love to bust out a stool for them to stand on or put them in their parent's arms. This helps to contain them into a space they feel is their own.
Make it a game of pretend and tell them it's the top of the castle or a mountain. They think it's fun and are more willing to cooperate.
2. Give them a job:
It makes them feel important in such a time of change. Ask them to do something such as give their sibling a magical kiss.
Sometimes as adults I feel we lose a little bit of their imagination, but make up some wild story about how their kisses keep their sibling happy.
When they are young, they eat this stuff up! If they are too young such as under two... they have no clue what you are talking about.
3. Show them a photo on the back of your camera:
Kids get SO excited to see themselves in a photo on your screen. Most of the time when I do this, they ask me to take more pictures and I generally get 2-3 minutes of full-cooperation which is plenty of time to capture the images mom wants.
4. Ask them to bring someone to help or have an assistant:
Whether Dad or Grandma join the fun for the Newborn Session or you find someone to help.
I always, always start with shots that include the siblings first so that the helper person can either take them outside to play or take them home.
In my case, try to schedule these sessions just shortly before my daughter gets home from school and if I need her, she is there and willing to help.
This will also help the remainder of your session go so much smoother when you don't have a wild child running or screaming in the studio and startling the baby.
Mama is able to relax on the couch while I take care of baby for the remaining hour or so. She will go home feeling like a new woman!
5. Tell mom to play with her kids as she normally does:
This takes their mind off of "having" to hold still and they get some one on one time with mom which has been lacking a little bit as they settle into the new schedule with a baby.
These end up being Mom's favorite images because they are in the moment and raw emotion. If mom is too tired or sore to hold their child, have them sit on a sofa and read a book.
If she is feeling great she can hold them and do Eskimo Kisses, snuggle, tickle, etc... This is all about capturing connection and taking their mind off of the fact they are being photographed.
6. Get a feather duster:
You guys, have a feather duster on hand with a long handle so if you don't have that helper or extra person for whatever reason, you have an extension of your arm that you can use to get kids' attention.
In this case it is a long-handled feather duster. This allows you to stay far enough away to capture the shot while being able to reach out with the other hand and tickle their toes or face if they don't freak out!
7. Be Silly!
Do not be afraid to act like a crazy person! I do this allll the time. Sometimes all it takes is getting a little goofy behind the camera to get the reaction that you are looking for. Play Peek-a-boo, make silly noises, or jump around and laugh uncontrollably. Kids love this + you will generally get what you are looking for as long as you aren't afraid of looking insane.
8. Reinforce good behavior:
I mean, some days I'm not above bribery + I always keep a stash of Organic Fruit Snacks in my studio.
Some days we have to bribe them to be good and other days I will say something like, "You are doing awesome! Do you want a little snack?"
The only rule is be sure you get mom's permission first and if you are asking during the session because you forgot before, be sure the kids don't hear you just in case the answer is no. That's just opening an entirely new can of worms!