If I asked you to think of a calm, easy family activity, I’m pretty sure that family pictures would not be at the forefront of your mind. It might actually be closer to the least calm activity you can think of. Getting four children to all stand still, smile for real and look at the camera is a bit harder than rocket science. Add a special needs child into the mix and it can be near impossible. However, just because you have active kids or kids that don’t understand what is happening, doesn’t mean that you can’t get some great family pics. These tips for taking great family pictures with a special needs child will hopefully change your outlook on pictures and make things a little more relaxed as you try to tame the little munchkins in your family.
Great Family Pictures with a Special Needs Child
Special needs children come in all needs, shapes and abilities. Being aware of this is the key to making your family pictures amazing.
These tips will help you get more pictures of your family this Christmas season even if you don’t have a special needs child.
1. Feed everyone before picture time.
A hungry child is an unhappy child. An unhappy child will not cooperate for pictures. Ward off the tears and frustration by eating a meal shortly before picture time. And bring along some of your children’s favorite non-messy snacks. We have taken many pictures by sneaking in a cracker in between shots.
2. Choose a casual location.
Forget those painfully stiff photo shoots from your childhood. To get great pictures of your child, take them to one of their favorite locations. Places like a playground, hiking trail, beach or even the backyard will make your child more comfortable.
3. Get the highest needs kids dressed last.
We start from oldest to youngest getting the kids ready for pictures because our youngest daughter is most likely to get dirty, mess up her hair, or decorate her belly with peanut butter . Saving her for last also helps to get her excited because she sees her older sisters all getting fancied up.
4. Don’t try a new hairstyle!
Getting kids to sit still while getting their hair done is tough on a regular day. Add into that the pressure of pictures and it’s a recipe for disaster if you choose to try a new hair-do. Kids with sensory issues might get overwhelmed if their hair is tighter or looser than usual. Wiggly kids will get frustrated trying to sit still through an unusually long time of fixing their hair. Simple is better and easy is best.
5. Choose an easy to match color palette for all the kids.
To make things really easy, choose the majority of your children’s clothing from one store, like our sponsor, Gymboree. Buying from one store helps to ensure that all the colors will match and you won’t have one child with an different shade of a color than all the other kids. Gymboree has coordinating styles for kids babies and kids, so it’s easy to get the majority of your outfit shopping done in one location or even online.
6. Don’t force the kids to look at the camera.
This is an especially important tip for special needs kids. Many kids have a hard time looking directly at a person and in a high-pressure situation like picture-taking, it can be hard to remember that. Choosing photo setups that purposefully have the kids looking somewhere else, like at fish in a stream, can result in a much more natural picture and removes the worry that one child is staring at something much more interesting than the camera…like a leaf.
7. Get the shots set up before adding all the kids.
Asking small children or special needs children to stand still while the photographer adjusts the settings on her camera is just asking for a disaster. Get the camera set up, take a few test shots with the more cooperative kids, then add in your wild cards.
8. Bring along an extra adult.
Having an extra pair of hands along can be exact thing that you need to get a super smile. They can help corral the kids, be your behind-the-scenes funny guy, and help stave off tantrums when
you the kids get overwhelmed.
9. Get candid shots.
My favorite shots of my children are always the ones that aren’t planned. Let them explore the area that you are in and get pictures along the way. Catch a smile as they discover a chipmunk on a rock, spy a favorite woodpecker on a nearby tree or spinning circles after everything is finished.
10. Reward them!
Save something fun for after pictures are done. Go out to eat or plan to head to the park after everyone changes out of their fancy clothes. They worked hard during pictures, so let them have an extra special treat at the end.
I love the look of the outfits we received from Gymboree for our fall family photo shoot! Be sure to head to Gymboree.com to get the best, easy-to-coordinate outfits for your next family photo shoot! Come back here and comment with your favorite holiday looks!