Many parents express worry or concern about their children being cooperative at a session. As a mom I can completely relate. This little girl isn’t always keen on having her photo taken and I have some tips that I’ve found help ALLOT.
1. Involve them in the prep if they are age appropriate. Discuss your location options and what they’d like to wear. Do they enjoy a particular activity that can be included in the session? Take them on a special shopping trip to pick out an outfit. Make a day of it together, have lunch or go to the movies.
2. Let them know them bring something special to the session. It can be something to wear, something to hold, anything that personal in nature. We don’t have to have it in every shot, but it often adds a level of comfort and excitement to get a photo with their favorite “fill in the blank”.
3. Be prepared. A second outfit on hand is never a bad idea. Kids will be kids, even when getting their photos taken. We try to avoid spills and stains but then again they do happen! Pack a bag with comb/brush, hair gel/spray, hair bands, bobby pins & wet wipes. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in the middle of a session and just need to retouch a bit!
4. Don’t worry if they are shy at first. Most photographers know children need some time to settle in with a stranger. We’ll ask them a few questions, favorite super hero, cartoons etc. If they’ve brought that personal item to a session it’s a big ice breaker. Every kid likes to talk about their prized possessions.
5. Play, don’t pose. My personal approach is to put people, not just children in a setting and then get them to interact or do something. This helps with much more genuine expressions and variety of frames.
6. Cheese goes with crackers, not smiles. Yes, it will reveal those pearly whites. But seriously…who smiles like that in real life?
7. Speaking of food, don’t forget snacks and drinks. This is usually more important with small children. But they always appreciate a break to nibble on a treat and take a break before continuing the session.
8. If you’re in a group session it seems like every adult wants to giggle, gasp and play peek-abo when getting a child’s attention. And for small children this is particularly difficult since their eyes roam everywhere trying to figure out why their family has just lost their minds. Designate just one person from the group to work with the photographer so your little ones eyes are aimed in the right direction.
9. Melt downs happen. We’ve all been there, trying to console our children as they try (through sobs and sniffles) to convince us the world is ending as they know it. It’s fine, they rally and the show goes on!
10. Most important of all, have fun at your session! Lifestyle portraiture is all about capturing moments of living. It is not a school portrait in front of back drop. It is very real and though there are elements of planning the best photos are the least expected. Just let kids be kids and the rest follows.