A lot of photographers get nervous when it comes to photographing families with older kids and teens. While it’s easy to chase, tickle, toss, and scoop tiny kids, older kids come with a unique set of challenges for sessions. Often times they think they are “too cool” (spoiler alert: you are never too old to snuggle your mom!) and therefore might give some pushback for participation. They’re also not young enough for the typical fun prompts. I adore photographing older kids and teens! Here are five of my favorite prompts for families with older kids to help you for your next session.
Prompt 1: Let the Baby Lead
Your kids are never too old for a good “follow the leader,” but this time, there’s a twist. I have the youngest person in the family lead (or the shortest is also fine so you can make sure that nobody is obstructed), and then I start a game. I pick a theme and ask the family to yell out as many contributions to the theme that they can think of while they walk towards me. Depending on the age/sex of the kids, I mix it up. Ideas include: listing breakfast items, types of cheeses, bodily functions (think farts), cities in America, etc. You can feel out the personality of each family and personalize it to them. Usually families will yell out silly things or they’ll both yell something at the same time, and it’ll result in some laughs.
Prompt 2: The “Look At You” Game
Teens are never too old for this game, but I just make it appropriate to their age level. For example, with young kids I ask them to “look at the person with the smelliest feet” and “who sleeps the latest.” With older kids, I get creative. Some questions I ask include:
Who would you rather be trapped with on a desert island?
Who would be able to actually get you off that island?
Who makes the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
Who likes to go out to eat the most?
Prompt 3: Dance Behind Your Parents
For this one, I instruct parents to snuggle and kiss and then tell the older kids to run and dance behind them. Assure them that they’re blurred out and you can’t really see what they’re doing. Save this for the end of the session when they’re already warmed up. Usually by then, their personalities have come out, so they’re more comfortable being silly.
Prompt 4: Crush Your Parents
Set up the family so that the older kids are on the outside, with the parents on the inside/in the middle. Instruct them to walk towards you for a few, and then tell the teens to push in and try to “crush” their parents. This also works well with siblings with one parent.
Prompt 5: Tell Me Something You’re Proud Of
I ask a parent to snuggle up behind their child and hug them. I then tell them to whisper in their kid’s ear and tell them three things they’re proud of that child for. You would be amazed at the smiles and sometimes tears that result from this.
What do you think, photographers? Are any of these prompts your favorite?