A session guide for Dads {Most Fun Stress-Free Chicago Family Photographer}

I’m here today to talk about DADS. In all of my years as a photographer, I’ve had a grand total of THREE sessions booked by the dad. Which means that 99.5% of the time, it is mom that is driving the train, from booking to planning out outfits, envisioning the final product before we’ve begun, stressing (unnecessarily) over whether the kids will behave and more. In addition, moms often tell me that outside of their sessions, they are their family’s primary documentarian, so that means they have TONS of photos of the kids and quite a few with dad in the frame, but it’s mama that is all too often absent from the images that document their family story.

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So where does that leave dad on the day of the session? Usually he has a vague idea of the cost of the session and a complete picture of his parter’s stress level leading up to the session…even when the planning and wardrobe coordination is seamlessly coordinated in conjunction with your photographer (me :)), just wrangling little ones into outfits (without gaining traces of drool, boogers and cracker crumbs along the way) and out the door on time can be a handful.

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So dad, I have a game plan for you, because I want to share a little secret - we’re on the same team. Neither of us want you to feel like you’ve thrown your money down the toilet (trust me when I say that long term, this will be one of your favorite investments), and both of us have one major goal: to make your partner feel relaxed, beautiful and happy with the way things are going.

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And we’re going to work together to make it happen - here’s the plan!

1) Your number one job today is to love on your family. Because my style involved some loosely posed images and then a lot of fun candid images, I need your help for that candid love-filled magic. Hold your partner’s hand. Give your kids a hug, a tickle or a big kiss on their heads. Remind your partner how beautiful she looks. A little PDA is welcome, encouraged even. Throw your kids up in the air or spin them around. I’m here to capture the love that you feel for this family you’ve created, so don’t be shy about showing it.

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2) Don’t look at me for every snap. If I need you to look at me for a photo, I will let you know. More often than not, I just want you to be engaged with your family. Look into your partners eyes. Talk to your kids about silly stuff, even if it’s making fun of their crazy photographer :) I’m happy to be the butt of your jokes (and apologize and forewarn you in advance that you’ll likely be the butt of a few of mine).

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3) I will be coaching you guys through a few poses that feel natural, but if you aren’t feeling it, please say something. Remember how I said we are a team? I meant it. If you aren’t comfortable sitting on the ground, let me know and we’ll do something else.

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4) Remember that kids will be kids. The last thing that I want them to do is sit still and look at me with a smile plastered to their faces. When your little ones get a bit crazy (or cranky or grumpy or whatever the toddler behavioral gods send our way), choose this moment to channel your inner zen and look forward to the drinks you’ll be sharing with your partner later tonight. Please don’t stress, yell, scold or bribe them - remember that I’ve been through this 500+ times, and I’ll help to steer us back on course.

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I know that you might not have been the one who was excited about booking this session. But I hope that when all is said and done, when you’re smiling in the car on your way home and even more when you’re gazing at the photos from the session as they adorn the walls of your home (or in a frame at your desk at work), you recognize that not only will you make your partner really happy by being an active and engaged participant, but you’ll have memories and artwork that will commemorate this time in your family’s story that will last for generations to come.

Remember dad, we’re a team, and you’ve got this.