All kids are different. All people are different. So there will never be a one-size fits all approach to photographing any age. But my favorite tip for shooting a family session with teens is to create a connection.
Getting to know people I photograph is a pleasure to me, and asking a few questions to learn more about someone helps them relax and be themselves. Start by asking how they spend their free time. Playing sports, making art, playing an instrument? Favorite movies, books, music? What was the most fun family trip you’ve ever taken?
Eye-rolling? One-word answers? It’s ok. You’re helping to make someone feel seen, and that makes anyone feel good.
Sounds obvious, right? Of course they know you see them superficially, but when your families feel that you genuinely care about who they are it helps to create a connection. Even if it’s only for the hour or so you spend together.
With this beautiful family, I happen to know the parents, but the kids were so little the last time I saw them that I was a perfect stranger to them at their session. Ages ranged from 9 to 16 so I made sure to avoid any baby talk, and used straight-forward prompts (such as hold hands with Mom or touch your foreheads together) because they were able to take direction easily.
Two more tips…
By paying attention to body language you can also avoid forced-looking poses. Many older kids would rather go without screentime for a day than snuggle with their parents. Capturing the moodiness of teens can be just as memorable for parents, and worth recording, as a hug. And I like asking kids of any age what they prefer to be called, especially if their name has a common nickname.
Most of all, take your time. If you’re relaxed and enjoy the session your families will, too.