I recently had the pleasure to photograph the Hansen family. They have always been one of my favorite families to photograph. I get the opportunity to capture their beauty year after year as their family grows. Their newest addition to the family, Olivia, recently had her first birthday. As with most young children trying to capture a “good image” can sometimes be a little challenging.
It often seems like it doesn’t matter how cute and adorable kids can be, one true fact always seems to remain. Kids do not like cameras! I try to think about this from their point of view. This about being a very small human. Your parents disrupted your schedule, put you in funny clothes that you can’t get dirty, and drop you off in front of someone else. Now this person is holding a large black box and towering over you while pointing this black thing at your face!
It’s no wonder they seem to want to squirm away and cry! Fortunately after years of photographing many different kids there are a few things that you, as a photographer, can do to ease the tension. Remember, the tension isn’t just coming from the kids! The adults are stressed because things aren’t going the way they planned, their kid won’t stop crying, and possibly the other child is off getting dirty and playing in the stream nearby!
EASING THE TENSION!:
So, how do we, as photographers ease the emotions and get those shots that will bring smiles and warmth for generations to come? By becoming a friend. One of the best and first things you can do is to connect with the children and family members.
Kids usually have items that make them feel safe when they are at home. These can be things like blankets, stuffed animals, and toys. Tell the parent’s to bring these items and make sure YOU as the photographer are the one to give them these items.
By you giving the comfort items to the child you are working your way in as a friend! Who doesn’t love someone that gives us a gift that makes us happy? Kids are just little adults and want the same comforts that we enjoy. Don’t be afraid to pick the child up also. Ask the parent’s if it is okay if you pick up the child and spend some time connecting with them.
Walk around with the child and explore the surroundings. Kids are always in wonder of the world around them. Take a few minutes and show them a flower up close or dip their toes in the water. Play to their emotions and their hyperactive senses. This helps by removing them from the situation and giving them a “break”. As an added bonus you are bonding with the kid and the parents get a moment of relief as well.
GET THE FAMILY INVOLVED:
One of the next best things you can do is start slowly incorporating family members. Capture the candid shots and the dynamics of the family. The Hansen family was grateful for the images that were the most natural. These moments are the ones that will create real memories. Families love the shots that show the beauty of who they are.
Perfectly posed shots are great but the ones that stand out the most are the “real moments”. This can be a brother hugging his sister, or a dad throwing the daughter up in the air. Don’t be afraid to tell the parents to forget that the camera is there. Tell them to act as they would if they were there by themselves relaxing on a Sunday afternoon.
CROP YOUR IMAGES:
Take as many shots as you can here and don’t be afraid to crop! You bought this wonderful camera that has thousands of megapixels for a reason! You can crop the image and create the moment later! This is where your talents as an artist comes in to play.
By cropping the images and removing things from the background you get to work with your canvas just like a painter would. Take what you have and make it a memory. Even if there was a kid crying behind you, the family will remember the shot and forget about the negative aspects of the day.
You now have a few tools of many to help conduct a family portrait session where small children are involved. Using these tools become just a part of your “tool box”. Remember that it takes time to develop a good flow of production and how your specific personality and style mesh together. Don’t be afraid to take some bad shots. Its part of the learning process and it can help stimulate your creative mind.
I often begin photo sessions with taking bad shots on purpose. Just so I can find the flow and energy of the session. Each family will have its own energy and dynamic and to become a part of that a photographer has to explore the boundaries. Some of those bad shots might end up pushing your creative boundaries as you discover new poses and ways to interact with your subjects.
I would like to give a huge thank you to the Hansen family for letting me be a part of creating special memories that will last forever.
If you liked what you read please share this post and most of all feel free to comment if you have ideas of your own! As photographers and artists we all have special things that work for us. The more ideas we share and critique the better we can all become!
-Moss Image, Christopher Moss
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