A few weeks ago, right after I got home from the second day of the Mommy & Me Micro Sessions, my 10 year old son approached me complaining about how warm it was outside. I agreed with him and he responded,
“Not like you’d know, you were just sitting around taking pictures all day.”
It might be time for me to recruit him as an assistant for a photo session or two.
There is little to no sitting going on during a photo session with small kids! Seeing as I have three kids aged 10, 7, and 3, this was never a surprise to me. I knew that in order to get genuine smiles out of kids, sitting there and pleading “Say Cheese” was never going to cut it.
So, what’s the secret? If you’ve ever hired me as your photographer, there is no secret about it! You’ve seen the energy and special flavor of insanity that it takes. You’ve watched me chase your kids around making silly noises, running in circles, playing a high calorie-burning version of peek-a-boo, and generally giving it my all.
So, from a legitimately and necessarily crazy photographer to other photographers and parents hoping to snap some extra awesome shots of your kids, here are six of my favorite tips for dodging the stinky cheese and connecting with small children during a photo session:
1. Do the posed shots first. Even older kids are only going cooperate for so long and, even with my own kids, I always try to get the poses out of the way first thing. They are usually expecting it anyhow. They will soon lose interest and be ready to play…which usually yields the best pictures!
2. Avoid having other people get their attention. I know that moms and dads are desperate for smiley pictures, but when there are multiple people competing for a child’s attention, it can get overwhelming. If Mom is determined, have her perch right behind you (good and low) so that you will be able to bring those sweet eyes toward the camera with little effort and before that smile disappears.
3. Do something totally unexpected and ridiculous. This is much harder when we’re talking about our own kids because at some point, they’ve seen all you’ve got. You’ll have to balance the shock factor with the age range because the last thing you want to do is scare them, but generally speaking, don’t hold back and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
4. Give them something to do and let them suggest a pose. Generally speaking, kids love to feel like an important part of any task. I’ve got tons of pose ideas, but not only do they tend to be excited about a pose if they think it up themselves, but the picture itself carries more emotion and that’s really what a good picture is all about. If they can’t think of something, throw out some ideas and let each kid choose one…they’ll still be much more into it because you’ve involved them!
5. Get down on their level. Even if that means you have to lay down or do some crazy gymnastics, get on their eye level to get the best possible connection.
6. Put your running shoes on and let them go! Kids are supposed to run and play, so let them! You’ll catch real smiles, fun action, and their true colors.