This weeks Q&A is devoted to this HUGE question that every photographer has at some time…
Do you have any hints/tricks for photographing children? Every age has their difficulties. Namely 2-3 year olds? Sometimes they are shy, too rambunctious, won’t look at the camera, crying. Also, young siblings are my ultimate nemsis at the moment. I can’t seem to get a 1 and 3 year old (general ages), to do any sort of interacting together without one or both of them crying, running away, etc. Let alone look at me and smile. Any great tricks that have helped you?
Hahaha! I don’t know if I’d say I have GREAT tricks? I’m constantly reaching back into the bag to try something else. Okay lets see… A lot of these ideas came from other photographers and often their wonderful books too.
1. You gotta EARN IT FIRST! Before you even take out your camera become friends with the family and kids. Learn their names, give them high fives, compliment their cute dress or awesome hair do. Kids love compliments just as much as the rest of us. You have to get them back into their comfort zone. Go down on their level and look at them eye to eye. If you are in their home ask them to show you their room. When you feel like the ice has broken a bit, and you’ve become friends, then take out your camera. Instead of being scared or shy, they may be interested and excited. SOMETIMES taking a quick picture and showing it to them can help break them out of their shell. Sometimes things would be better if you didn’t give them that privilege, all just depending on the child. 🙂
2. SILLINESS! I have found that the best thing I can do is be ridiculously and utterly silly! You may feel embarrassed but the kids will love it and the parents will eat you up because of it. When you’re shooting just the children have a parent (the sillier of the two) stand behind you and tell them to pretend to do silly things to you. Don’t be hesitant to bring toys or puppets to make them laugh. I placed a squeaky toy on my lens for a shoot this Saturday to keep the attention of a 6 month old but I soon had the whole family laughing as they watched my uncoordinated attepts to squeak the toy, press down the shutter and hold the camera still.
3. The NEW factor! Kids LOVE bubbles and it can make for a good prop too or a clean duster to tickle the kids’ noses. It doesn’t have to be fancy, sometimes all you need is a new element. When kids are having fun they tend to get along with each other better. Before you ask the siblings to pose together use your Jedi mind trick. You love your brother don’t you? I bet you’re a good older sister huh? Show me how much you love each other. Give them a hug! Children want to please adults and it helps if you tell them how much it would make you happy to see them hug. Something else I’ve learned is that you need eyes in the back of your head. While you’re taking pictures of say, mom and dad, be on the look out for the kids in their natural state. You may just get a better picture while they are least expecting it than if they were posed. With all this said sometimes everything you try still doesn’t work. You still can get a great picture of a child crying or running around. If that’s the child’s personality then what would be more fitting?
4. PREP THE PARENTS! It’s also important to prep the parents and tell them not to get stressed out. Once mom’s stressed the whole family is. I’ve seen so many shoots go south fast because mom starts getting stressed about the kids refusal to sit, hug and love on each other. Next time the kids are starting to act out, pay attention to the parents and see if thats whats setting it off. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to ask mom and dad to step out of the room for a few moments. Politely explain that you’ve noticed that kids often open up best when know one else is watching. When they see the results they will thank you for the suggestion! Plus when mom and dad are out of the scene you can talk to the kiddos about making a really great picture to surprise them with… This always seems to work for at least a few frames.
5. PERFECTLY PEZ-ERIFIC! I’m not kidding, the Pez machine is magic!! I’m working up quite a little collection so that the kids can pick who they want to smile at. You have to trim down the sides just a little and they fit right into your hot shoe. Just make sure you have a large supply of the yumminess to go with it!
6. Know THE LINGO! It helps a lot to know the really popular songs and characters that kids are in to. Sometimes I will email mom before the session to ask what the kids fav characters, movies and shows are. I become EXTREMELY cool when I start singing the song from their favorite morning cartoon!
7. SHARE IT! Let us know what works for you!!!