Don't Yell At Your Kids To Smile And Other Tips For Amazing Family Photos

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
Ghislain & Marie David De Lossy/Getty Images

Folks, it’s time. You and I need to have a little chat. You love your family photographer, right?

You want your family photographer to want to take pictures of those sweet children of yours, right? Then why in the wide world do you treat them like some bumpkin you just met along the side of the road and asked to snap a quick candid photo for you in front of some lousy state sign? WHY?

For the majority of these professionals behind the lens, photography is not a fun game or some part-time hobby — it is their livelihood. And believe it or not, their hours of operation vastly exceed the one hour session you paid for.

So let’s help them out and quit doing/saying these things, mkay?

1. Ask “Can you edit out my [insert perceived “flaw” here]?”

First of all, I almost spit out my coffee when I heard this one. To answer your question, yes. Praise be it to God, they can edit out your double chin and post-baby belly pooch. But do they want to? No. Should you want them to? No. Will it look natural? NO.

Other than the smiles that hide the whole story of how mom truly lost her shit that morning, family photos are supposed to be all about the authenticity of the current moment.

2. Yell at your kids to smile.

Quit hooping and hollering for your kids to smile and then act surprised when they cry the ugly cry for the entire session. You paid your family photographer to get these photos done, and he/she will. So stop trying to do their job for them. Relax.


3. Crop out the watermark on social media.

You know that little logo usually found on your pictures before you’ve ordered prints or a disc? Do not crop that out. It’s not there because your photographer thinks it adds a touch of sparkle your family photos were missing. This is the photographer’s way of signing their work and bringing on new clients. When you crop it out, you are essentially robbing them of potential business and discrediting their work.

4. Act like the photographer’s assistant.

Stop taking personal photos of your children while they are on set. And PLEASE, do not post what you captured on social media like the set-up was your idea. Trust me, your photos will look crappy compared to what you’re going to receive.

5. “May I see?”

In case you didn’t know, photographers spend hours meticulously editing your family pictures. So to ask if you may see them before they are print-ready is like asking your interior designer if you can see a home before it’s even painted and then pointing out that it hasn’t been painted yet.

Don’t. Do. It.

6. Alter your image.

Do not apply crappy Instagram filters or add Snapchat bunny ears to your photos. Yes, they are yours now, but your family photographer has spent hours making these photos more than presentable, so quit crapping (or cropping) all over their work.

7. Cancel last minute.

Of course, sometimes things happen, especially when kids are thrown into the mix. But to cancel (or worst, to no-call no-show) on the day of your session is to metaphorically take money out of your photographer’s pocket.

If things aren’t looking like they will go as planned, please give ample warning so that another family can hopefully snag your spot.

8. Break copyright laws.

You may do this without even realizing you are doing it. Unless you have an agreement with your photographer, it is illegal to print their work without their explicit consent.

And for the love of all that is holy in this world, QUIT printing these images on blankets or big canvases with the watermark flying across the front. I mean, thanks for the free advertisement, but it looks tackier than a rusted dryer on a front porch.

9. Expect prints or previews the next day.

People, even God took seven days to say, “It is done.” Your photographer (no matter how many times they get your screaming toddlers to smile) is not a miracle worker. It takes time and a ton of editing to get your session’s worth of pictures ready for printing. This is their form of art, quit being rude by constantly nagging them.

10. Let your kids act like hooligans.

Of course, kids will be kids. But parents, you can also be parents. Stop allowing your kids to tear into and demolish things that are not yours or theirs. This is not a McDonald’s playhouse. Do not feed them liquid sugar before pictures and then watch them torpedo their way through a set your photographer spent hours perfecting. That’s not cute.


And when the finished product proudly displays on your wall, just remember it was your family photographer who spent hours planning, shooting, editing and then re-editing again, just so you can look back on these moments. Even during your child’s moments of debauchery, your family photographer made it happen for you.

This article was originally published on