They say “Never work with children or animals!” And unfortunately we all know why – photographing little ones is NOT all rainbows and unicorns!
But I adore toddlers and younger kids – they’re so honest, so determined, and just so gorgeous!
That’s my son, Will, who was definitely not inclined to pose happily for me today. We had about 10 minutes of ideal light and 10 seconds into it, I knew it was going to be a challenge!
Often we only look at the “winners” that are framed and hung on the wall, the portfolio shots that go on a photographer’s website, and the Facebook profile pics – and we think “How do they get these kids to be so well behaved?” Consider this a bit of encouragement for the day – often, they’re not! Great images take patience, creativity and determination!
Here are a few tips for getting the best out of your mini subjects, whether during a professional session or when taking your own photos at home:
1. Keep calm and stay positive! Sometimes I’m hopeless at following my own advice on this one, but once the adults get cranky, it’s all downhill from there. Often I find it’s good for mum & dad to relax a few metres away and let the kids just interact with me for a while.
2. Entertain and engage. Little ones usually have almost zero interest in having their photo taken, but are quite happy to play games, look for buzzy bees (but don’t get too close of course!), play peekaboo, watch out for the monkey creeping up behind me, etc. And while they’re having fun, they’re smiling. It’s the perfect opportunity for action shots, big laughs and funny expressions.
3. Let the kids take the lead. Often if they’re given the chance to do their own thing for a while, a quick call of their name will have them looking straight at the lens. Be ready for it!
4. Avoid chastising or giving strict directions. When they’re in trouble or being told to do foreign things (like, “Stand up straight” “Look at the camera” etc.), they’re not going to be smiling or relaxed, so keep encouraging natural, happy behaviour.
The goal of my portrait sessions is to provide my clients with a relatively small selection of stunning images that really reflect their “family persona”. They’re the photos you hang on the wall, that bring a smile to your face every day. The cheeky smiles that prompt “They’re growing up too fast!!” thoughts. EVERY time I edit a photo of Will, I want to grab him in a big bear hug and somehow make time slow down!
Professional photography is an investment of time, energy and money – and every time I look at a photo on our wall, I know it’s worth it. Those moments are long past, but I can enjoy them forever.