I'll begin by saying, children are unique individuals with real feelings and real emotions. We cannot always control every situation and real problems arise all the time.
That being said, what can we do to keep children as happy as possible for their photo session?
Sometimes a short snack break can work wonders! Consider bringing snacks that are bite-sized and make minimal mess. For very small children, snacks that can be hidden in their lap or hands are also always an excellent idea (puffs, goldfish, etc.)
Bring clear drinks!
Water, caffeine-free soda, apple juice...Whatever it takes, just make sure you don't bring dyed drinks that may stain mouths and clothes.
Does your child have a favorite cuddle item that you don't mind making an occasional appearance in a few photos? How about a favorite musical toy that can be played behind the scenes to bring a smile?
Have ideas of their favorite games!
What is an activity or game that is sure to make your child laugh and smile? Maybe they like to play tag, be thrown in the air, or tickled. Think of some ideas you can implement quickly to keep the mood upbeat!
This may be my most important tip! If you know you want a standard family portrait (everyone looking at the camera and smiling), do that FIRST before the kids become disinterested! Take any photos where you know you want them still. Then, have a little play time to capture those sweet candid photos with the family.