Their outfit is perfect. Every last hair is in place. And still the picture you took of your little looks like just that — a picture you took. We asked friend of M+A, Maria Ponce, a professional photographer and mom of two, to spill the beans on how she always gets the perfect shot. Her expert tips and secrets shared below.

1. Keep the wardrobe simple.

Have them ready to go and dressed in their first outfit and the second one ready to swap out quickly. No decision making at the shoot.

2. Location, location, location.

Shoot in a place where they can run free. Trying to confine them to one place makes them antsy. A field, park, or garden with space to explore is the best way to capture who they really are.

3. Keep it short.

30 minutes MAX. Kids’ attention spans are short. So if they start to melt down, don't push it. Spare yourself the agony and try again the next day.

4. Go for the giggles.

For younger kids and babies, bring bubbles to blow or a toy that rattles to shake above your head while you shoot. It’s a good distraction that elicits genuine smiles.

5. The diva needs her rest.

Always plan pictures after a nap and snack. Don't expect a tired and cranky kid to perform.

6. Avoid direct sunlight.

For best picture results, shoot them in the shade. Direct sunlight is hard for a novice to navigate.

7. Call in reinforcements.

Bring along a family member or friend to help. Sometimes grandpa can get the best smiles out of your kids.

8. If all else fails, bribery works.

Got a toddler who just won’t cooperate? Save yourself the pain and promise them chocolate or a trip to the park after the shoot.

9. Perfectly imperfect.

Sometimes the best pictures are the ones where your kids are crying or you are all laughing at the chaos. These are the real moments—don't forget the joy in that.