Working with babies, toddlers and young children is a lot of fun, and can be a comedy of errors. Some of my favorite photos have come out of shoots where the parent was convinced we didn’t get anything because their little model just wasn’t into it that day. Whether you are trying to snap some great photos of your own child, or get the most out of your time as a professional, these tips are for you.
5) Keep it Short
One of the trickiest things with our tiny models is that they have a very low tolerance for being bored, tired, or hungry. I, for one, envy the way they are in tune with their bodies, but when you’re chasing that perfect golden hour sunset, their complete refusal to cooperate can be a real bummer. To combat children’s nature to be “over it” way before adults are, I never schedule more than an hour for a family photoshoot, and I always tell the parents, “We’ll go as long as they let us!” I find that 30 minutes to an hour is plenty of time to capture multiple poses, plenty of candids, and give the family a great selection of photos. I also like to allow breaks for my kids, especially if we’re shooting at a local park or playground; giving them a chance to play on the swings for 10 minutes might be just the refresher they need to smile pretty one more time!
4) Keep it Simple
With the thousands of props available online, the artfully crafted outfits, and elaborate staging options, it’s so tempting to go all in! It isn’t every day you get the whole family dressed up and hire someone to document your special occasion! When it comes to little ones, though, less really is more. A simple pumpkin for fall photos or their favorite pair of boots can make for an image that captures the true spirit of your child without all of the extra distraction of complicated costumes and a busy backdrop.
3) Keep Their Attention
Distraction is inevitable; the world is simply too fascinating to waste time staring at the lady with the camera in her face. A simple trick that I use to get a little one to look my way is to bring along a noisy toy or make a weird noise. A set of clappers or a well timed high pitched squeal can result in full attention, if only for a moment! In addition to gaining their attention, you’ll want to make sure that everything is ready for that split second capture. Check your light before you begin and keep your shutter finger poised; the perfect shot can happen at any moment!
2) Keep it Comfortable
Getting your photos taken can be uncomfortable for a little one; heck, it can be uncomfortable for a fully grown adult! The key to success is making the experience as comfortable as possible for everyone involved. I recommend choosing a location your family and photographer know to limit guessing and searching for perfect spots to shoot. Let the kids run free and play as soon as the “required group shots” are done. These photos are often the best of my batches, kids throwing leaves, looking mischievously through fences, or climbing a tree to see how high they can go! If everyone is having a good time, the photos will turn out better, and the memory of the day will be part of the fun!
1) Keep Calm
Finally, try to relax and have fun! Trying to get the exact right look and the exact Pinterest dream shoot will often make for forced, unrealistic photos. The stains on her tights are okay, your crow’s feet are beautiful, and if he doesn’t want to post for this one, that’s okay; we’ll do a set with you and your partner! In the end, the goal of a photo is to capture a moment, and while you want that moment to look great, you also want it to be real. The person in the picture is who you and your child are today, at this moment, and that is worthy of documenting.
It’s the perfect time for fall family photos, and I’m even running a special! Book your shoot by the end of October and get 10% off!