There is a lot of pressure to make sure you give your clients prompts throughout their session that result in beautiful storytelling images. That pressure can build and build and I don’t know about you guys but sometimes my mind goes totally blank at the start of a session. “What was that one thing I saw on Pinterest?” “Which prompt from Unscripted was I going to try out?” It’s like all of the sudden my brain empties and I remember nothing.
Knowing how to prompt your clients at their family session can be really stressful, especially when there are multiple kids running around. Having a few go-to storytelling prompts up my sleeve always helps me get the ball rolling when that stress kicks in. These are some of my favorite prompts to use during family sessions to make sure I tell their story through their images.
Prompt – lay everyone down and have them snuggle together! Pro tip: shoot from the top of their heads instead of just straight down at them. This eliminates anyones double chin showing (believe me, everyone, no matter who you are, has a double chin when you lay them down and make them look straight up at you!)
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – is there anything more intimate than snuggling your babies in close? As a mama myself, this prompt gives me so much meaning and tells such a vivid story of the chapter of life the family is currently living.
Prompt – baby cheeks are the best, have mom or dad give them a good squish. This one always gets little giggles!
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – our baby’s cheeks only stay chubby and soft for so long. Having a frozen moment of time where mom or dad is caressing those baby cheeks will be treasured for years to come when those baby cheeks start to fade away. Storytelling images like this immediately put me back in that moment and, for me, illicit actual feelings of what those squishy cheeks were like.
Sit & Stand
Prompt- have one parent sit with a kiddo and one parent stand! Put them close enough to each other that they don’t look disconnected. Prompt them to both interact with the kiddos and to look at each other as they do.
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – The moments of mom looking up/down at dad are always super sweet. You often catch moments of extreme appreciation and glances of pure love between the two as one looks at the other holding one of their babies. I imagine they’re thinking about how much their love for each other has changed through parenthood.
Prompt – place everyone sitting together and have them get super snuggle-y. Scoot them in as close as they can get to each other and just encourage them to relax like they’re at home on the couch!
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – this one is similar to having them lay down and snuggle together. Just having a moment where the world is paused and it’s just them embracing their family and getting in as close as they can together! It shows how big or small the babies are and I find that it’s often the first time mom and dad have been shoulder to shoulder in a loving way in quite some time. This usually results in lots of loving looks, dad pulling mom in even closer and all the tickles on the little ones.
Prompt- going to be honest here, this photo was natural and candidly captured but what. a. moment. I usually prompt the kids by saying “where’s mommy’s nose?!” but never thought to do the opposite. Try switching that one up at your next session and having mom or dad find baby’s nose!
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – how many times as parents do we give little nose boops to our kids? I know I am guilty of booping my children at least 87 times a day. This little gesture of love is something that’s so unconscious yet so meaningful.
Explore the Environment
Prompt – this one is one of my favorites. Simply notice what’s around you and prompt the kiddos to go see it! OR ask them what they can find around you and just follow them, letting them show you what they think is neat!
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – the pure curiosity of children is so beautiful. They are only fascinated with their surroundings and eager to share their findings with us for so long. Having photos of them showing us rocks, sticks, leaves or smelling flowers, touching the grass etc. documents such a special time in their childhood.
Prompt – have mom or dad stand and give the kids a BIG twirl around! Pro tip: set your settings to high shooting mode to capture the entire spin around, or lower your shutter speed and blur the motion for extra emotion in your photo.
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – a good parent/child twirl is always a special moment. They’re only small enough for this for so long. Bonus points if siblings are old enough to prompt for this twirl as just siblings!
Hands are Full
Prompt – Have the parents hold the children who can be held and snap a quick picture of just the babies in their parents’s arms. This is always a treasure for me.
How This Prompt Creates Storytelling Images – I absolutely love capturing the space children take up, as I know first hand that space expands and then shrinks again over time. Babies are so tiny in their protective parent’s arms, toddlers are squirmy and almost too big to cary, then they graduate to sitting in laps and standing by mom and dad or standing alone. This is one of the most powerful storytelling prompts you can use. The space their babies take up in each stage of life is so important.
Which one of these prompts are you going to use at your next session to tell your client’s story? Let me know! I would love to see what you come up with.