Toddler runs toward a bright blue glass greenhouse down a sidewalk. Snow still covers the grass.

Tip 1: go with the flow

Please for the love of goodness do not worry about your kids behaviour! I promise I have seen it all! The shy kids who won't look up from Mom's shoulder, the upset toddler who won't stop crying, the silly school age kids who can't seem to stop showing off or cracking fart jokes. I have so many games and tricks planned, I promise I can work with whatever they throw at me. And I would much rather see you connecting with your kiddos where they are at, than scolding them, or apologizing for them. Photo sessions are the one time we can hold the behaviour corrections and punishments and just go with it. Hug them when they need a hug, dance with them when they need to get some sillies out, and play along with the games even if they aren't quite ready to join in yet.

Grandfather playfully throwing grass at his granddaughter as she laughs
Family photo - oldest daughter is smiling and posing, youngest daughter has her tongue out. Mom is fixing daughters hair
Toddler swings between parents hands

tip 2: bring snacks and water

Nothing is worse than a hangry toddler! Pack more snacks than you think you need. My favourite are something small - so it can be hidden in their hand during photos, and doled out one by one to keep them occupied. Avoid chocolate and other things that can get stuck in teeth and look icky. And nothing messy that may drip on faces or clothes. I like yogurt melts, raisins, and cheerios, but choose something you know your child will like and is age and allergy appropriate. I will definitely have baby wipes if messes do happen.

Spring weather can also be unpredictable. Don't forget a water bottle to cool off after I have you all running and jumping around!

Mom laughs as her daughter tickles her neck
Toddler walks between one of each of her parents arms
Dad whispers to his daughter who giggles

tip 3: encourage play and connection

I am all for catching one quick moment of everyone looking at the camera (and smiling if possible!) but after that we quickly move on to the good part - cuddles, laughs, and play! Don't ask your kids to smile and look at me, let them play! Even better if you take the lead. Encourage snuggles, encourage giggles, encourage playful moments. If you know your toddler always laughs when you play airplane with her up in the air - by all means, get it started! I have lots of games planned for us, but you know your kids best, and they will always be more comfortable when their favourite people are playing and snuggling along!

Kate Steele is a professional photographer based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Specializing in documenting the un-posed love, the genuine joy, and all the other real life stuff happening around us. Offering lifestyle newborn, family and couple photography in Ottawa. For behind the scenes and current work please follow along on Instagram!