Taking the stress out of parenting during a photo session.

Most parents want those perfect pictures that show these happy, well behaved kids with beautiful smiles.  Then they go to their photo session and the kids are being shy or ornery and won't look at the camera or refuse to smile.  Then comes the frustration.  Expectations are blown and stress levels rise.  Don't let this happen to you!

 

What little eyes see....

Let's take a moment to look at this from the kids' perspective.  We tell them not to talk to strangers and now they are in this weird place with this strange person with this huge camera.  They don't know what to think or how to act.  They don't know if it is time to put on a show or run and hide.  We have some tips to help you deal with this during your session.  

Let the Pros handle it...

 

As a mother of 3 kids, doing daycare for years and now photography, I know my way around little minds.  I start my session by talking to the little guys and letting them warm up to me.  I will ask them questions and even ask for their input on the session. I might ask them where they want to start at or what kind of pose they would like to do (when we are doing the posed shots).  I want them to feel like they still have some control.  When they feel like they have some control they are HAPPY.  And that is exactly what we want to capture is a HAPPY kid.  Remember, they are kids so they won't be perfect angels and that is okay.  I will try to refocus them and pull them back on track if needed.  Try to let the photographer take care of it and if help is needed with corralling I will ask.   As hard as it may be to hold yourself back from scolding I encourage you to try.  Once the child feels as though they are getting in trouble they end up in tears or throwing fits and at that point we have not solved any problems but only created bigger ones when it comes to taking beautiful pictures. 

 

Let kids be kids...

When possible, outdoor sessions are wonderful for kids.  It gives them more ability to be themselves during the session.  Some of the most beautiful shots are the ones where they are playing and letting their little personalities show.  We don't always have to TRY for that perfect shot.  A lot of the time it will happen on it's own if we let it.  You may even decide to incorporate their favorite toy or book into the session.  One...it keeps them occupied and happy.  Two...it captures those memories of their favorite toy or story for years to come.

 

Bribes ARE ALLOWED!...

Encourage your child to have fun and smile.  Prepare them for the session before you come.  Bribes are always an awesome tool.  I suggest bribing them with one of their favorite treats for after the session.  Maybe it is ice cream, or a Happy Meal, or candy.  When the going gets tough we gently remind them of what they have to look forward to if they cooperate during the session.  But they only get it if they are listening and showing us how happy they are.  It usually gets them back on track in a snap!

 

Kids get HANGRY and TIRED too!...

I know if I'm hungry I get angry easier....I get HANGRY!  Add lack of sleep to the mix you are definitely more likely to see my bad side.  Kids are no different.  Try to schedule your session around meal and nap times to try your best to avoid these issues.  Kids can sometimes throw their own schedule out of whack so its not necessarily completely avoidable but it is worth the attempt to try.  Sometimes we just need to take a little break during the session, especially if it is a studio session where they don't have as much opportunity to play.  This is a great time to have a quick, clean snack and drink on hand.  Chocolate is NOT a good snack to have on hand.  Fruit snacks and dry cereal are good or any other small candies/snacks that aren't messy and can be chewed fairly quickly.  (These can be used for bribes during the session too!)

 

NO "CHEEEEESE!"...

Your parents taught you and you probably taught your kids... "Say cheeeeeese!"  NOOOOO......don't say cheese!  More times than not, when a child says "cheese" they will look, well, cheesy.  We want to attempt, if at all possible, to capture those natural smiles, not their "cheese smile".  So, I will say funny things to them and make a fool of myself to try to get them to laugh and have fun.  I may ask them to smile for me but I try to avoid asking for it if at all possible and never ask them to "say cheese!" 

 

New places create new interests...

 

When kids go to new places they like to explore and learn.  When they enter my in-home studio they tend to roam.  We just try to keep them corralled to the studio area and try our best to refocus them on taking the pictures instead of playing with all the props and supplies that are off to the side.  Remember the bribes, and no scolding when doing this.  If you are taking advantage of a beautiful day and we are outdoors for the session we will have picked a location ahead of time.  If possible it is a good idea to take your children to the location on a previous date to let them explore the site.  If its not brand spanking new to them on the day of the session they are more likely to stay focused on the task at hand instead of being in "explore mode".   But, even if they are in "explore mode", we keep taking shots and catch their personalities at work while they are exploring. 

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