9 Tips For Getting Your Kids To Cooperate For Photos!

mommy and me fashion

Vivian and I… we take a lot of photos, yes we do. And it may look like she cooperates at every single photos session, but that’s SO not the case. I definitely do have some talented photographers that are great at getting “the shots” we need, but sometimes it can be a struggle, A REAL STRUGGLE. With toddlers especially, sometimes you just never know what mood you’ll get. But because I’ve definitely had a little experience in this, I wanted to share some tips for getting kids to cooperate for a photo session, that I have found worked for me at least once. There’s a lot of posts out there written from a photographer’s standpoint, but I wanted to share tips from the viewpoint of a parent, because I think the focus can be slightly different.

Utah mom blogger

Toddler girl fashion

Young Soles London

Mommy and daughter swinging Toddler with camera Cuties with cameras

My outfit:

Dress: ROOLEE (blue sold out, grey here)
Bag: Fawn Design

Vivian’s outfit:

Romper: Les Petits Darlings
Shoes: Young Soles London
Bracelet: June and Penny

Photography by Paige Nicolle Photo

  1. Timing is key. Scheduling a photo session during a child’s nap time or meal time could spell for disaster. You want to make sure your kids are well fed and well rested. Also, plan to arrive early at the location so that your kids can get comfortable with it. You know your child’s schedule the best and although a photographer may prefer to shoot during certain times due to lighting, I fully believe that if the timing is off for your kids, you will have a harder time taking photos.
  2. Change at home. I’ve gone back and forth with this one but I do think that changing at home for your photo session and getting in the car and driving in those clothes is best. It is best to not get your kid agitated by changing in the car or next to the car right before your photo session. The risk you run a little bit is clothes getting a bit wrinkled, but I think in the end, making sure they aren’t annoyed from changing right before, is more important.
  3. Keep them engaged. I don’t love posed photos and really do prefer more “lifestyle” photos of my kids. Instead of just bringing them around and making them say “cheese”, make a game out of it. Have them chase you around, play tag, throw them in the air, swing them around. 
  4. Plan for backup props to be a part of your photo. I actually LOVE having props in our photos, but I know some of you may not, especially if it’s like family photos for a Christmas card. Sometimes though, you may not have a choice but to bust out those bubbles, those wooden toys, a book, or a blanket to sit on. I think that props add another dimension to family photos and can be really great.
  5. Ask your photographer if it’s OK for them to see the pictures. My son especially, loves seeing the photos that the photographer takes. It’s kind of like giving him the complete picture about what we are even doing and what the end result is.
  6. Bring bribes. – Unfortunately, sometimes this ends up happening way before you want it to, but you are paying for your photographer’s time and I know you don’t want to gather the troops again for a later date. Make sure to bring along their favorite snack… bribes can range from fruit snacks to apples, you can decide how healthy you want to be with it, as long as it’s something your kids get excited about. However, always make sure to not show them a huge bag of apples or gummies, they will likely want to grab on to it and eat the whole thing (which could take awhile). I always take things out of the packaging or container I brought it in and offer 1 or 2, and not let them realize there really are like 10 of them.
  7. Take breaks. – If your child is really in a full on tantrum, upset about something or just downright not cooperating, then take a break. Go on a little adventure in your photo location, sometimes kids just get anxiety from a camera in their face and if they start off on the wrong foot, it takes a lot to calm them down. Once they are calm after a break (hopefully), then your photographer may be able to start snapping photos again.
  8. Take a step back and relax. Kids are so smart and they can feel when parents are stressed, and it usually makes them more stressed too. If you are getting worried that the right “pictures” aren’t getting taken, just take a step back a little and relax. When your nerves are calm, your kids are likely to “behave” better too. 
  9. Don’t force it. – Sometimes I just want Vivian to take her own photos, and she just wants to be held. Other times I want to hold her, and she wants to wander off and explore. Honestly though, some of the best pictures are ones where they are in charge and doing their own thing, without being forced. You never know, some of these photos could turn out to be the best ones.

I’m not going to say that using all of these tips works every time, but they sure can’t hurt. There’s been times where Vivian downright cries the whole time, fusses about something, and it really can’t be helped. Last resort would really be to reschedule with your photographer. It may cost you some more money for their time, but they also will understand and want you to be happy with your images as well. Just make sure to talk it over with them and see what they can do for you. 

Shop my favorite photo props:

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9 Tips For Getting Your Kids To Cooperate For Photos!

Got any other tips?? Would love to hear them below in the comments!


  1. SheiLa
    August 15, 2016 / 3:47 am

    I wouLd rename #6 as bring rewards instead of briBes. You give bribes to unruly children who are taking over controL by getting what they want despite bad behaVior, vs a reward is something you always intended to give, as a response for their good behavior. Just my 2 cents 😘 Love this post from your pov.

  2. August 15, 2016 / 5:24 am

    These are great tips. I almost always have to bring snacks for Layla to keep her happy!

    Fizz and Frosting

  3. August 15, 2016 / 10:12 am

    Totally agree with this! You definitely I think need to plan and yet go with the flow with kiddos! they can be unpredictable and things can go downhill fast! breaks is key! You’re pics of you and your little are always just adorable!


  4. August 16, 2016 / 11:17 am

    These are fantastic tips! We struggled to get Caleb to cooperate for our yearly family pictures but, thankfully, we did come away with some good ones!

  5. August 16, 2016 / 3:58 pm

    These are all excellent tips and will hopefully help out a desperate parent. My kids were TERRIBLE for their pictures when they were little.

  6. August 16, 2016 / 6:39 pm

    Bribes are everything when it comes to taking picture with the little ones. ALso, these are gorgeous pics.

  7. August 16, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    THEse are all great tips and I think scheduling photos during nap time is asking for disaster. I have also been known to bribe my children and as long as the pictures turn out ok, that is all that matters.

  8. Nicole Etolen
    August 17, 2016 / 7:08 am

    Wow, I love your tips! I remember my son when he is little, he is so adorable in pictures.

  9. Rebecca Swenor
    August 17, 2016 / 7:59 am

    These are all great tips for getting your kids to cooperate for photos. I think it is a great idea to get the kids involved by showing them the photos because they are more apt to maybe show off a little in them. Most kids can be little hams. Thanks for sharing the tips and she is so adorable.

  10. August 17, 2016 / 10:51 am

    I love these tips. It has been a long time since I have done family photos. I need to do it again soon. Props and snacks can make a huge difference.

  11. Ann Bacciaglia
    August 17, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    It can be so hard to get kids to cooperate when taking pictures. These are great tips. We have some family photos booked for next week.

  12. August 17, 2016 / 7:34 pm

    These are all great tips. It can be very challenging to take pictures of kids. I will remind myself to relax and breathe. Hehe.

  13. Sara
    August 18, 2016 / 6:40 am

    You two always have the sweetest photos! Thanks so much for sharing your tips so that I can make photos with my kids even better!

  14. August 18, 2016 / 9:16 am

    with a 3 years old and a baby girl, i need all the help i can get! your pics with Vivian always turn out so perfect. i think props are a great idea and my son would probably be much more engaged with a toy or two to hold his interest. i think the pics also come out way more candid that way, rather than standing there and smiling at the camera, which is impossible for him to do anymore lol.

  15. August 18, 2016 / 9:41 pm

    This gives us fits every time, with three toddlers, it’s like herding cats. We’ve given up on smiles are are just happy if they are all facing the same direction!

  16. August 19, 2016 / 8:29 am

    Great tips! I’ve tried my hand at photograhping kids and they usually end in tears… I won’t say whose.

  17. August 23, 2016 / 3:09 pm

    This is so good. My grandson was born mugging for the camera. You get your phone or camera out for my granddaughter and she freezes and runs off! I’m pinning this post!

  18. August 24, 2016 / 12:33 pm

    These are great tips! I have to have everything planned out and ready before I photograph my toddler. She is all over the place and loses interest very quickly. Thanks for joining the Family Joy Link Party!

  19. August 26, 2016 / 5:59 am

    These are great tips! Though I’ve not yet taken the boys on a professional photo shoot, I do know these same tips can work for just “normal” family pictures, too! Often, I’ll even let Monkey Boy take some pictures himself, it helps him to be engaged in the process. Also, the two of you are just adorable. And, that camera is really cool, is it one of those bamboo ones??

  20. Michelle
    August 28, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    We definitely can use these tips. My little guys are not into cooperating with pictures. It makes me nervous to plan for a family photo session.

  21. August 30, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    Great tips! And adorable photos. Thanks for sharing at the #InspirationSpotlight Pinned & sharing

  22. July 31, 2018 / 4:31 pm

    Thank you for pointing out that you need to keep your kid engaged. My mom is wanting some professional pictures of my toddler. I’ll have to look into finding the best photographer in my area.

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