Why it’s ok if your kids “misbehave” during your session


I know, I know, it sounds wild, but I actually don’t mind if your kids “misbehave” during our session.

Do I want them bouncing off the walls and throwing rocks at me? Not really, but I could handle it if they did.

In fact, one child really did think it was super funny to throw rocks at people, but along with the help of some gentle parents, we redirected that throwing into a river instead – problem solved.

The point is, if you truly want to capture yours kids’ personality, we need to embrace whatever that is. Kids go through incredible emotions, especially when placed in new situations with new people.

When kids have the space (both physically and time-wise) to travel through them, that’s how we get to their best selves— the genuine smiles and true emotion for their individual personalities to shine through.

You already know from a previous blog post that I’ll never make your kids say cheese. Instead, we play games and go on adventures and become friends. This post will explore a few examples of how specific common behaviors can play into getting the candid, fun shots you truly want.

Wiggly, escaping little ones

Littles under 2 are especially wiggly, and often either only want to be held or don’t want to be held at all and run around like monkeys. In the latter case, I love to play games like this one that I’ve coined “the elevator dip” -we usually get about 2-3 dips and then it’s over, but that’s all we need!

This little guy did not want to be held either, so we played the “jump and pull back” game. I asked him to sit on his moms lap and try to jump out and run away- mom was a tickle monster who was going to try to grab him and pull him back, just for a second, then let him go again.

If we had insisted he “come over here right now and sit still!” he probably would have thrown a fit and made things way worse – but instead, we got these super fun hugs between mother and son!

*Note— obviously this only works for some kids and you have to be aware. There’s a difference between a kid who is playing keep-away with mom and dad and a kid who does not want to be touched right now… and that’s important to respect.


Getting messy

When we’re meeting outside, kids will want to explore their surroundings. By engaging their curiosity and excitement, we get buy in from them that this is fun! This little guy was super shy most of the session, but when we found a creek towards the end, he got really excited and we finally saw his sweet, playful side. Because mom and dad rolled with it instead of freaking out about mud, we got these adorable shots of him in his happy place!



Splashing, grass stains… it’s all par for the course. Sometimes the adventure is what leads to the most beautiful locations, engagement, and expressions, which always outweigh a little dirt in my book.


Roughhousing + Rowdiness

Siblings have a tendency to egg each other on, and sometimes the rowdiness can get intense. There’s obviously a limit that’s up to the parents to set (calmly) but for one hour, I really don’t care if they’re wild as long as they’re having fun. This crew was pretty rambunctious (also noted that they were stir-crazy from pandemic life and this outing was a big deal) so I created games and interaction that captured their energy, but kept them from hurting each other. 😛


Meeting at home is another way to set your kids up for success if you know they’re a rowdy bunch. Accessibility to familiar surroundings keeps stress low for parents, as opposed to meeting in a public place, AND allows the kids to burn that energy in a way that also captures your season of life as a family.



Extreme shyness

This may not seem like a “misbehaving” category, but sometimes parents get frustrated when their kids aren’t doing what they think they “should” be doing. aka, if you’ve paid for a photoshoot and your kid wants to hide behind your dress the whole time.

When the frustration comes out, the kids invert even more, so it’s best to just honor their feelings and let them warm up slowly. Again, forcing them to “cut it out” will be a backwards move, so don’t worry about the timing. We can calmly break the walls down, but capture all the sweet cuddles while we’re at it!

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The recap

When kids get rowdy, make fart noises, jump on a dirt pile, or won’t stop with the aggressive surprise tickles… we’re going to just play it cool for this hour (and it’s probably a good idea while you’re all getting ready and in the car, too!) so everybody can just have fun and be in a good mood.

If you like a photographer who will also play it cool and be totally fine engaging in a stick sword fight…

I’m your family photographer.

If you’re looking for someone who will blast the soundtrack from Frozen so you can have a mid-field dance party…

Also me.

Ready for a silly and sweet family photography session? Book your spot with me in the Charlottesville, VA area or check our more info on our session experience and pricing here.

client tips, families




Why it’s ok if your kids “misbehave” during your session

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