Time to address a big topic. "There's no point in doing a full photo session- my kid won't sit still for 2 minutes, let alone 2 hours." Has this thought crossed your mind? Wondering why professional photo session times are always so long? The truth is, 1.5-2hrs isn't long at all; it's just long compared to the 15-minute slots given at the big box picture studios. It's actually what's needed for even the best photographers to capture those sincere moments you want.
Kids are all so different and their personalities vary to the extremes. It takes time to connect with them, for them to warm-up to the camera pointed at his/her face, to be him/herself instead of showing off for the camera or shaking the "cheeeeeese" engraved in their heads. You can't expect genuine expression or interaction from a child when there's no time for him/her to adjust to the new location, person, and directions. In my own sessions, I purposefully plan segments of posing and play, giving close attention to reactions and responses of the children. If they're starting to get distracted by something, I put my camera down and we go check it out together. If they get fussy when lying on their belly, no problem, we'll try something else. If they're getting bored with an action or activity, we take a break and do something silly for a little while. These breaks are essential! They build trust, keep momentum positive, maintain a light and fun environment, and often create opportunity for the best and most authentic expressions.
Sometimes, parents unintentionally break the energy by prompting their kids to stop playing around or sit still. Understandably, they want to make sure they are not wasting time because Johnny digging in the sand isn't exactly what they imagined hanging on their wall. That's the awesome part about hiring a professional photographer, though. You've seen his/her work and loved it, you are paying for his/her time and talent, and they have done this multiple times with great results! You wouldn't go to a fancy restaurant and step into the kitchen to prepare the sauce for your pasta the way you do at home. (At least I hope not.) When you put something you value, be it a purchase, an experience, or a decision, into the hands of a professional, you have to trust them to do their job. The same principle applies to photographers as well! They make their decisions as far as sitting times, pricing, business policies, etc for a reason so trust that even if the process is different than what you've seen before, the end result will be way worth it!