The success of family portraiture always rely on the good will of the kids. When parents come to me with small children I alway give them this few guidelines. The photo session should not be seen as a chore, a torture or something they are forced to do because mom said so. Here are 4 ways to ensure we get the best out of the kids.
Do not stifle the kids
In order to get the best expressions from the children we need to let them shine. As a photographer I am totally fine with kids running around, jumping and just being themselves. It is the perfect setting to capture candid, living portraits. As parents I understand you want to have them listen to instructions and not being a chaos. I am fine with chaos, I feed on chaos and turn it into great images. Believe it or not but this is only when I embrace chaos that kids start to listen to me and pose for the important pictures. Hence my strategy 50%chaos 50%posing. We play, we play then we pose. We go back to playing, fun, fun, fun… then posing again.
Engage them in an activity
Children should have fun during the session. After all they are the main reason we do it in the first place. In order to have them participate and to make them feel special I love to capture them doing what they love. Do they like to dance, do they like to play football or soccer, do they love drawing or singing ? Whatever is their passion or hobby it is a good opportunity to take meaningful portraits that both you and them will love.
Be spontanious with them, keep it fun
A great way to have children show their true colors is to be spontaneous ourselves. By being funny, light hearted and spontaneous we show them it is okay to act a little crazy and to have fun. This is the whole point of the photo session : having fun so the images reflect this positive state of mind. Parents lead the way and show the example even in the fun time.
Do not force them into doing the photo session. (or letting them feel that way)
As adults we are capable of focusing our attention and control ourselves for a determined time frame. Unfortunately children are still learning this skill and it is sometimes very difficult to have them do something they do not want to. I always recommend parents to present the photo session as a fun activity, not something they have to do because they are forced to. Our time together should be fun and light. I am not here to force anybody. As parents don’t want you to force or oblige your children to do as they are told. It usually ruins the mood. As you can see I prefer to use psychology to lead them where I need them to be instead of being the mean person who oblige them to sit in front of my camera.
I hope these few points will help you get the most of your family session, have a good time and the best possible pictures. Do I miss anything ? Do you have other ideas I can apply to my work ? Let me know in the comments below.