As a mom and photographer, I understand the struggles parents are faced with when wanting beautiful images to display around your home. Kids are unpredictable and can’t sit still for long. They want to run around and explore and often don’t like to be told what to do. Once they start walking, it’s game over as they just want to be loose everywhere. Your family session should be enjoyable. I see it as a way to spend quality time together so I decided to put together my top tips for a successful NJ family session.

 Mom and dad hold young sons in Maplewood NJ.

Will your kids be best in the beginning of the session or will they need some time to warm up?

If you know your kids are a little shy it might be best for us to walk around and have them get used to what we are doing. This gets them comfortable with me, the camera, directions, and the location that we are in. My family sessions are never rushed because of this. However, sometimes kids don’t need to ease into a session at all, they are best in the beginning and start to lose steam after a certain amount of time. It is good to let me know how your kids might behave and the approach I should take.

Let your kids be themselves

I know we all want at least one everyone smiling at the camera picture. They are classic! However, they aren’t always realistic and not the most important in my opinion. My favorite images are the ones with emotion and movement. It shows everyone’s personalities and tells your family’s story during our session. That’s why I love asking what songs kids like to sing, or if they want to swing between mom and dad. Their true joy shines through.

Come prepared with snacks and bribes

No judgement here. We all use bribes to get our kids to do things! Think about what will make them cooperate. Lollipops? Ice cream after our session? And on the food topic: Kids. Are. Always. Hungry. If I let her, my daughter would be holding a cup of goldfish in her hand all day. Bring snacks and drinks that your kids like. Maybe something they don’t normally get at home! However, try to get ones that don’t make a big mess.

Mom and dad walk with young sons in Maplewood NJ park.

Decide who is in charge

I find kids listen more when only one person is telling them what to do. Most of the time that falls into my lap and I’m fine with that! When too many adults are telling a kid what to do they get overwhelmed and often cooperate less.

Think of games to play or songs to sing and remember what makes your kids laugh!

You can provide me with a list of these if you think it would be helpful! My daughter loves singing and tickling and those tricks are always up my sleeve. Even as simple as “I’m gonna get you!” works. For older kids I don’t mind cracking “potty” jokes as this usually gets them laughing.

The main tip: trust your photographer, have fun and don’t stress!


I hope this list of top tips for a successful NJ family session was informative and helpful. Review it for your session with me!

View my family portfolio HERE.

A recent family session HERE.


Erin Dwyer is a NJ photographer specializing in maternity, newborn, family photography. Serving North/Central New Jersey including Bernardsville, Basking Ridge, Madison, Chatham, Summit, Maplewood, Westfield, Hoboken and Jersey City as well as Essex County, Morris County, Somerset County, Union County, and Hudson County.