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Recap Clubhouse: Tog Talk – Tips for Photographing Children

Recap – Tips for Photographing Children

Hey friend, did you miss our Clubhouse chat this week, or a snippet of the engaging & constructive conversation that arose?  Let’s discuss!

This week we talked about photographing our favorite little subjects – children! Though they may be some of our most beloved models, they can also be some of the most difficult and challenging for any photographer.  

We discussed some ways to not only help capture those fleeting moments, but also to enjoy ourselves while doing so. Let’s go over those ideas.

Set Boundaries and Limitations

Start your session with a little ‘meeting.’ Let the child(ren) know what you expect of them during the session, and how easily it can all happen with their help. Remember, these are children. They don’t think, act, or understand the same way as adults. It is ok to gently remind them you are the boss and there is respect to be shared. You expect certain things during your session, and in return you will do something nice for them. Whether it’s a prize box or showing the back of camera, setting those expectations and safe boundaries is professional and helpful.

Explain your job to the child, and their job. Maybe their job is to help make little sister smile, or to get that perfect smile of their own that will make mommy happy. Give them positive reinforcement and encouraging the good behavior. 

Check Your Time 

Remember that kids may have a lot of energy, but it can be depleted quickly (especially with younger babies). Don’t over work them for an extended period of time, and remember that a tantrum can actually be from exhaustion. Keep in mind that it’s okay to say “I think we got all our shots, and our kiddo is done.” The more you press and push a child past their limits, the faster a session can go south and your frustration can start to show. 

Most importantly, make sure that you address this in a consultation previous to the session so that the parents understand and have proper expectations. Kids can burn out quickly, so plan your time accordingly. A 12m old baby will not last as long as a session for a 5 or 8 pear old child.

Cake Smashes

Remind parents that not all kids like cake. They may hate the textures, the idea of being ‘told’ what to do, or even the taste of that much sugar. Another great idea for cake smash success is to ask the parents to bring snacks. If the baby doesn’t like the cake, they can snack on their favorite food. Cheerios, puffs, etc. 

Another great tip: give them a tool or accessory that enhances the cake smash theme. Angie Moore of Bella Marie Photo made a great point that supplying a tiny prop, like a small colorful spatula, can make a session bloom. Imagine this: baby hates cake, but loves taking spatula and banging it on the cake. Smiles are flying, and baby is entertained. 

Parental Control.

Remind parents that you are the professional. This is your job, and you are comfortable interacting with their child. Set those expectations with the parents, and give them guidelines ahead of time. Let them know you are comfortable, in charge, and this is your expertise. It is okay to ask them nicely to step back and relax, let you do the hard work of capturing genuine smiles and their little personalities. 

Set a “parent zone” behind you or in a designated spot within your area where they can relax and sit back so you can successfully work with their child. Additionally, give rules and guidelines to the parents. Let them know where they can stand, where they shouldn’t stand, and explain how it affects the shots that you have in mind. Example: if you stand on the side, the child will look there and not at the camera. 

X Marks the Spot

Set an X or square tape mark in studio that kids can focus on and stand in. This keeps them in place, not wandering, and gives them a focus. In addition, your little “mark” will also give them a quick guide and reminder on what they are supposed to do – and many children do thrive on structure. 

Be Honest in Your Contract

Set expectations and remind parents that you cannot assure or promise perfection. Kids are kids, and they honestly are the ones that rule a session (depending on age & mood). Add a clause to your contract that states something like: Smiles are not promised; Photographers not responsible for child cooperation, etc. 

Don’t Take Yourself Seriously

Leave your pride at home and embrace your inner nerd. Do NOT feel bad or odd if you break into the Mickey Mouse theme song, or scratch your armpits and make monkey noises. Remember, you are dealing with children and you have to speak to them in their ‘language.’ Channel your inner child and let him/her shine!

Special thanks to my friends who joined the Clubhouse conversation today and contributed so much to our chat! Jillian Varnea Fine Art, Holly Lund Imagery, Deborah Koch Photography, Belle Marie Photo, Oh My Goddard Photographyand so many more other great people.

Join us every Tuesday, 11am cst (9am pst and 12pm est) in our Summerana: Tog Talk CLUB >> here << 

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