How To Brave A Family Session at Bedtime

Scheduling your family session can be a little tricky, especially during the summer when the sun is setting later and later. As a mom of four and seasoned family photographer, I completely understand the angst that comes with scheduling your family session at bedtime. You may be worrying your child will melt down during the session, refuse to cooperate, or just be plain ole’ cranky! I’ve had those same worries myself with my own family photoshoots, but rest assured, you CAN survive-and even enjoy!- a family session at bedtime. Here are a few ways to prepare.

Family of 3 at family session

3 Tips for Braving A Family Session at Bedtime

During the summer months in San Diego, the sun sets around 8pm, which for most families with young kiddos, is bedtime. When my kids were babies the house was quiet and dark by 7:30pm at the latest! As a natural light photographer, the best time to photograph families is one hour before sunset. This means that in order to get that beautiful golden dreamy light in your photos, you’re going to have to schedule your session at the time your child is usually getting into the bathtub, putting on jammies, and settling into bed. There are few tips and tricks I’ve found that have helped families over the years have a successful family session even if it’s later than their child is used to.

Family of 3 taking photos on the beach in San Diego
Mom and daughter during family session

1. Push Naps Back by 30-60 Minutes

I know, this may seem like a huge feat! I know how babies get when they’re tired and I also know how I get as a mama when my kids are tired! If at all possible, though, switch up your routine just slightly, so your little one can go down a little bit later and wake up closer to your family session time. This may take some effort on your part-going for a walk, eating lunch a little bit later, or pulling out a toy that hasn’t been played with in awhile, all to distract and entertain your babe so he/she can make it a little longer before settling in for that afternoon nap.

Dad with his daughter on the beach
Little girl taking 2 year old pictures in San Diego
Family taking photos on the beach in La Jolla for a family session

2. Make Your Family Session the Main Event of the Day

I say this phrase to my clients often. My main goal as a San Diego family photographer, is to make your session fun and enjoyable, while capturing the love and genuine connection you have in your family. Coming from a soccer practice, birthday party, or swim lessons is going to make for tired kiddos and exhausted parents. If at all possible, make your family session the main event of the day and treat it like a fun family outing! I know I am way more excited to be out and about in the early evening if I have had a mellow home day.

Family session at La Jolla, California

3. Bring Snacks or Low-Sugar Treats

I don’t know about your kids, but when mine are up past their bedtime, they are suddenly very hungry! Since you’re starting your family session around the same time you usually begin bath time, bringing a few snacks or low-sugar treats (bedtime is still just around the corner!) can keep their energy up and bellies full.

Family of 3 taking photos on the beach in San Diego at sunset
Couple taking photos on the beach at sunset

Do family photos at bedtime sounds more doable for you??! I know how scary it can be to break up your child’s routine, but in all of my years as a family photographer, I have yet to meet a child that was too tired to be photographed. So push that nap back, keep the day mellow, and bring a snack to eat beforehand and we’ll make some sweet memories as a family….even if it’s bedtime!

XO, Desiree

Silhouette image of family on the beach

Desiree Jacobs Photography is based in San Diego, CA