One of my neighbors saw me leading a bunch of neighborhood kids into the woods with my camera. He teased me about it later on that week, calling me the Pied Piper because of the way the children were following me in a straight line as I explained to them what we were going to do. In full disclosure, I think they were more interested in the fact that they were going to get to hold 30-inch wedding sparklers, than the main purpose of creating a sunset portrait. But it got me thinking about the ease with which I’m able to coach children (even as young as one year old) into the most natural and relaxed poses. Since I create storytelling family portraits for clients, I figured I’ll share some tips for you when you book me for your next family portrait!
Terrance’s Top 5 Tips for Family Portraits with Young Children
If you’re preparing for a photo session with your children, you may be feeling a bit apprehensive. After all, you’re about to make actual art, that’s designed to be hung on your actual wall. As a father, four times over, I can tell you it’s certainly true that children aren’t always easy to deal with. This is why the below tips will definitely come in handy before your upcoming photo session.
- Don’t make a huge deal out of it: If you’re stressed out and cranky, your kids will usually pick up on it and act accordingly. Their behavior will usually be better if you are relaxed and having fun. You may have to make some compromises to keep the peace such as letting your energetic daughter’s hair stay straight instead of curling it because she won’t sit still. Focus on the big picture—photographer’s pun intended—and don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Make it fun: Let the kids have a couple “fun pictures” where they get to pick their own pose or props. You get to keep the more serious photos while they get to take their silly photos. This way everyone wins. If you are struggling to get your kids to sit still, we can turn the photo session into a game. Simon Says usually works like a charm.
- Be prepared: If you’re going to be out for several hours, ensure that your children are well rested and have had their nap. Bringing some snacks and activities along is also a great idea. If you are having your own photos taken too then you might want to bring a babysitter or family member along to watch the kids. If you happen to be shooting in a remote location, you never know when you might need something like bug spray, tissues or a first aid kit so bring that along too. I’ll usually have some mosquito-repellant wipes and a Tide® stick for stains, but you should be prepared in case I’m out.
- Be patient: Save your sanity by trying not to control the photo session too much. Sometimes the best photos come from kids just doing their own thing. Work with your photographer and your photos will look fantastic.
- Have a chat: Get your children talking to both you and me about topics such as school or their favorite songs. This allows them to feel more comfortable around your photographer and will also give your photographer a chance to capture a few candid and cute expressions.
When we get together for the family portrait session, I’ll be watching to see if you’ve read and paid attention to this advice. And as a bonus, you’ll get to keep your sanity and actually enjoy the portraiture process!