Styling and Surviving Photo Shoots with Children: Getting Gorgeous Photos with Grumpy Children

It is said that, “You don’t take a good photograph, you make it” and with our family, we’re just trying to “make it” through the shoot with the photographer not hating us. As any parent knows, taking photos with children is a total crap shoot….either you have the well-rested, unicorn children that magically play and pose as directed OR you have my children, the fighting, nose-picking, running all over the place children that you are always apologizing for. We definitely fall into the "photo hooligan" category yet we always manage to get great photos with all seven children….and here’s how I do it….

 Styled by Stella and Ruby in Oh Baby! tanks and tutus. Photo cred: Emily Rose Photography

Styled by Stella and Ruby in Oh Baby! tanks and tutus. Photo cred: Emily Rose Photography

1.     Let your kids be kids! You want to capture the souls of your children in photos, not just their smiles. A photographer once told me that children who are constantly repositioned, told to sit still or smile a certain way have the hardest time with photos. Let the photographer capture your child’s personality naturally and with their artistry.

2.     Create a visually interesting and appealing color scheme. If you’re still wearing the white or black shirt with jeans look, you need to step up your photo wardrobe game. I always choose our theme around our younger daughters’ outfits and try to go big with color or design for them. Then I select two of the more muted colors in their outfits for the rest of the family and add accessories. I love rain boots, knee high socks, hair bows and necklaces for girls’ accessories. If you have boys, go with a plaid or patterned shirt and work from there. Newsboy caps, suspenders, bow ties or a prop are all great accessories for boys.

 For this look, I picked the girls' outfits first and then selected more muted, solid, complimentary colors for the rest of the family. Styled by Lambkins Children's Boutique in Gigglemoon. Photo cred: Brian Heckman Photography

For this look, I picked the girls' outfits first and then selected more muted, solid, complimentary colors for the rest of the family. Styled by Lambkins Children's Boutique in Gigglemoon. Photo cred: Brian Heckman Photography

If you’re looking for whimsy and fantasy for your daughters, Tutu Dumonde, is a dress line like nothing you have ever seen before. This line celebrates the spirit and beauty of little girls in dresses the WANT to wear. With elegant tutus, “swan queen” feathered dresses, crystal and beaded capes and coordinating head bands, Tutu Dumonde dresses make it hard to take a bad photo because girls love wearing them. I have two children’s boutiques that I buy from regularly that carry these dresses and both have great sales and often work with buyers on multiple dresses. Stella and Ruby in The Hamptons sells Tutu Dumonde, along with many other lines including boys clothing. The owner could not be more personable or helpful and provided all of the dresses seen below.

Beyond Princess Boutique is an online girls' boutique that has AMAZING dresses for girls and great sales on Tutu Dumonde. They also carry dresses that can be used in weddings and for special events. Enter code "mommymayhem" at checkout for 15% off your order.

 Styled by Beyond Princess Boutique in Tutu Dumonde. My kids had a rough night for this shoot yet the photographer, a mother of three, wasn't phased and managed to get this beautiful shot. Photo Cred: Jaiden Photography.

Styled by Beyond Princess Boutique in Tutu Dumonde. My kids had a rough night for this shoot yet the photographer, a mother of three, wasn't phased and managed to get this beautiful shot. Photo Cred: Jaiden Photography.

If the average $150 price tag is too much for your photo shoot, I discovered a wonderful online store called Rainey’s Closet where you can RENT Tutu Dumonde dresses and accessories for a few days for only $30-40!!! My blog followers get 20% off with the code Mayhem20.

Another one of my favorite look’s for girls is Matilda Jane. If you are unfamiliar with this line, do yourself a favor and discover it. MJ is a playful line of clothes with mix and match colors, patterns and textures that come out in seasonal collections. You may buy six pieces and it can create 15 different outfits. It also holds up very well and retains its color which is why I love it for hand me downs. My girls' closets are almost all MJ because five-year-old hand me down outfits still look new!  MJ is PERFECT for sister or cousin photo shoots. If you don’t know of anyone who sells it, Kelly Irwin Adams is a “trunkkeeper” who makes putting the outfits together so simple. She takes photos of all of the looks and pairings, puts sibling sets together, can help with photo shoot ideas and really helps maximize how many outfits you will get out of your purchase. They just released the new back to school collection with backpacks and lunchboxes!! Love the colors! Perfect for photo shoots. Shop the looks here.

Exclusively for Mommy Mayhem followers, you can receive FREE SHIPPING on any order over $50..normally you always have to pay extra! (Click on the link above, then select "Shop Now".  Begin filling your cart with the items you'd like to purchase.  After you are finished filling your cart, click "View Cart".  Instead of checking out, click "Create Wish List", fill in your contact information and click "Send".  Trunk Keeper Kelly Irwin Adams will contact you to complete your order and provide you with free shipping.) 

Lambkin’s Children’s Boutique, which just happens to be owned my mother-in-law in Western Pennsylvania, sells a lot of cute, photo worthy dresses and outfits. I love the Gigglemoon line because they have coordinating sets for children. She also has some beautiful simple and classic looks like the pink A-line dresses in the vintage carriage photo below. At only $35, that’s a great buy from a high end children’s boutique. Shop Lambkins on Facebook where she often has huge 50% off sales. Mention Mommy Mayhem for FREE SHIPPING on your order.

 Style by Lambkins Children's Boutique. Dresses only $35.  Shop Lambkins here.

Style by Lambkins Children's Boutique. Dresses only $35. Shop Lambkins here.

3.      Use nature’s best lighting and schedule your photo shoot before sunset. This is the best time of day for photos so I always try to make sure that my kids have an early dinner then get dressed for pictures. Steer clear of mid-day shoots (unless it’s overcast) with harsh overhead lighting and funky shadows. If a photographer wants to shoot your family at noon, politely decline. Sunrise is also great but that requires a lot of work before the sun comes up so with a lot of children, that could be quite a goat show at 6:00 am.

4.     Find a photographer that has kids or comes from a family with a lot of kids. I love when I have photographers that are parents because I know they understand the madness. Before one of our favorite photographers, Emily Rose Photography, became a mother, I knew her as one of nine children. Who better than to work an hour with several children than a woman who lived that chaos every day of her life? Another great photographer I use in Jacksonville, Jaiden Photography, is a mother of three who reassures me that my children's misbehavior doesn't bother her. This makes us all relax which lends itself to better photos. As a side note, one of my close friends, Chad Martel,  is a high profile, concert tour photographer who doesn’t fit into either of these categories. He's used to touring with Guns n Roses and photographing Playboy models but he is so laid back because he knows my expectations are so low. I always tell him, "Just shoot what you can and hope for the best" and I always get beautiful photos. Finding the right photographer for your family is so important.

 These girls were fighting and screaming two minutes before the photographer caught this on camera. Patience is a virtue. Photo Cred: Chad Martel

These girls were fighting and screaming two minutes before the photographer caught this on camera. Patience is a virtue. Photo Cred: Chad Martel

5.     Take the photos of the tears, the fighting, the running and the nose-picking. While those ones may not make the annual holiday card, they will definitely make for some laughs in years to come! Some of my favorite pictures are the inappropriate outtakes from photo shoots because those are the ones that tell the best stories!

When my most obstinate child refused to take photos with my family, I told the photographer to take the photos anyway because they would capture her personality. Now they are some of my most favorite photos because they tell her three year old story. Photo Cred: Chad Martel

 Styled by Beyond Princess Boutique. Princess Victoria dress. Shop the look here.

Styled by Beyond Princess Boutique. Princess Victoria dress. Shop the look here.

 One of my favorite children's clothing lines. Mommy Mayhem readers get FREE SHIPPING on all outfits. Follow instructions above for this deal.

One of my favorite children's clothing lines. Mommy Mayhem readers get FREE SHIPPING on all outfits. Follow instructions above for this deal.