Surviving a late summer sunset with little kids

So you want a summer photoshoot. Of course you do! Glorious weather, warm water, and beautiful sunsets!

But then, you find out the start time…and you panic.

So let me tell you about this gorgeous family.

Arlo had just turned 1, and Isla was 3.

Their bedtime was 6.45pm.

We started their shoot at 6.30pm and didn’t wrap up until nearly 8 o’clock. *Audible gasp*

As you can see, the kids (and the grown ups!) had a blast. We stopped the session for the occasional bribe, to let the kids play and have a breather. The result? Their gallery is brimming – from beginning to end – with smiles and laughs and love. Not a grumpy kid in sight.

These guys are our besties; I’ve known these kids since they were born and let me tell you: they have not always been good sleepers! Bedtime routines are not their strong suit. Their parents were *very* nervous about the late start. But they trusted me (and so should you!)

Yes, it might be more of a challenge than usual to wind down after all the fun and excitement of the shoot.

But it absolutely won’t mean that their sleep routines are ruined forever.

In fact, these guys have done their shoot every January since this day – so it clearly works!

The day of your photoshoot is not like every other day.  This is the time to bend the rules a little bit. The kids always cope well.  Brilliantly, actually.  It’s about the whole experience – embrace it, call it a treat, bring their favourite snacks or stop for a cheeky Maccas on the way home. Not only will you have gorgeous photos, you’ll also have the memories of a beautiful evening that your kids adored.

I’ve got two littles myself – at the time of writing this they are four-and-a-half and 20 months old – and they have a solid 7pm bedtime routine. So I really do understand.

But – and I cannot overstate this – it is SO important to wait for the right time of day for your photoshoot. 

If you’ve waited all year for your shoot, painstakingly planned out all your outfits, and intend to display these photos on your walls forever and ever…trust me, it’s absolutely worth disrupting the routine for ONE night.

So my top tips for coping with your summer shoot are:

  1. If you have a toddler who needs to nap, then run them ragged in the morning and push their nap later than usual. 
  2. If your kid no longer naps, then do the opposite: have a nice, slow, calm day so they still have plenty of energy by sunset (I promise to help them burn off that energy for bedtime!). 
  3. The most important thing to do on the day of your shoot: make sure the kids eat dinner before the session! You can even make the whole thing an adventure and have a beach picnic before your shoot (just don’t get them dressed until all the food is packed away!)
  4. Bring a bottle of milk or something yummy for them to have in the car straight afterwards.
  5. Change them into their PJs before you leave, and play some calming music on the drive home. Skip the bath and books, and put them straight to bed.
  6. Read my top tips on how to get your kids to behave

Still not convinced??

If the thought of keeping them up that late sends your blood pressure through the roof, then don’t worry. Here are your alternatives:

  1. Pick the right location – Choose the right east-facing beach and you can start 15 minutes earlier than at a west-facing beach.  If you’re after those gorgeous long grasses, then my favourite park location can allow us to start half an hour earlier – and you’ll escape the crowds which are unavoidable at Sydney beaches in the summer.  
  2. Wait!  Book a session after daylight savings ends, between April and October.  Embrace an autumn or winter session, with all its cosy goodness and big chunky layers, and start your session at 3.30pm instead.  Winter sunsets are the BOMB.
  3. Book an in-home shoot – these documentary-style sessions are absolutely beautiful and really capture your kids in their natural environment. These start at 10am so they’re ideal for little kids. Leave the sunset shoot for next year when they’re older
  4. Hope for clouds! Overcast days can be a HUGE blessing in summer! We can bring your shoot forward by an hour or so if there’s a lot of cloud cover. Cloudy days are fabulous for kids – cool, breezy, and the light is so flattering.

Have I convinced you?!

  1. […] 7pm which I know can be stressful for young families (although, you shouldn’t worry – check out my tips here!).  If that’s been worrying you and the day of our shoot is cloudy, then do a little celebratory […]

  2. […] – the early starts. Everyone wants a summer shoot until they hear the 6.30pm start time (my top tips for dealing with that are here). In winter, we start as early as 3.30pm in some places. This is perfect for toddler and […]

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