There’s this well known term in the photography world that every photographer with children is aware of and has been #blessed with experiencing:
CHILD OF A PHOTOGRAPHER SYNDROME.
It is real and it is alive and it is NASTY. We can take stunning photos of everyone else’s kids, but the second we try to take a nice photo of our own spawn, err I mean lovely little angels, they actually don’t show up in the photo because they are soul-sucking vampires.
So knowing this, every year around my daughter Charlotte’s birthday I still attempt to do a little photoshoot of her because pain and suffering keeps me grounded. Last year’s session certainly didn’t disappoint and even though I got a handful of usable photos I sacrificed 8 years off my life in the process.
It’s funny (not) because I literally did ALL THE THINGS I advise my clients NOT to do during their sessions, and I blame myself entirely for its failure. This year I challenged myself to create a much different experience, to let go of control (eek) and do what I do best – capture what is already there.
I gave Charlotte the majority of the creative control and in the process learned that my 7 year old has better ideas than I do, and maybe I should start putting her in charge more (ha just kidding, she already owns me). No dress this time because Charlotte currently hates anything “fancy,” macarons were a MUST because duh, her favorite stuffies also tagged along because she’s a child and playing is what she does best, and then we went on an adventure!
What I learned (and am still learning because it takes about 30 years for these things to actually stick): Give up control and you’ll likely find exactly what you were looking for.
7 TIPS FOR HAVING A SUCCESSFUL PHOTO SESSION – WITH KIDS!
1.) Expectations – LET THEM GOOOOO, haha!
2.) Ask your child their opinion – Have them help you figure out clothing/location/poses/ideas/anything! They LOVE feeling important enough to be included in the process, and honestly they have brilliant ideas. I’ve started asking children during our sessions if they have any ideas for photos and I’ve been getting FANTASTIC results.
3.) Incentive – Ok fine, it’s bribery, whatever. #dontjudgeme Often times getting photos taken is a child’s least favorite thing to do, so offering an incentive for a successful session can help a TONNNNN in keeping them motivated to behave (ice cream, play at a park, movie date, a toy, whatever!) Also, I totally won’t judge you if you bring candy with for during the session as bribery . . . just saying.
4.) A snack – Ya’ll know a snack can do WONDERS for turning a child’s (and an adult’s) day around. I suggest bringing something that is what I call “pocket friendly” – It isn’t messy, is small, and can be eaten one-by-one: puffs, goldfish crackers, berries, fruit snacks, etc. I won’t ever provide a snack as there are too may risks involved with food allergies, but definitely don’t hesitate to bring one (bring one for me too, hehe)!
5.) Clothing – Pick something that is comfortable, easy to move around and walk in, can get dirty (we will be moving around and playing a LOT), and is weather appropriate. I’ve tried a million times but I can’t control the weather – if your child is freezing and doesn’t want to behave, I don’t blame them! Also – multiple outfit changes for kids is almost always a recipe for stress. My best suggestion is to have one or two outfit changes, with the second being something you can easily change into. Certain ages do better with this than others so if you know your child will get ticked about having their clothes changed maybe best to leave it at one outfit.
6.) Take a break from parenting and let me be the boss – For whatever reason kids usually listen better to adults who are NOT their parents . . . I can’t get my own kid to listen but I CAN get yours! Haha! I have a TON of experience photographing children of all ages and temperaments and needs – YOUR KID DOESN’T STRESS ME OUT, I promise, but a parent getting worked up over their kid IS stressful. There is nothing worse than when I’m giving directions to a child to “not smile” or “jump up and down” and then mom/dad behind me doesn’t hear and yells at their kid to smile or stand still . . . I’m sure you can guess how that ends up! And once a kiddo is upset it can take the entire rest of the session to get them back on track. So take a mini-vacation from parenting and let me help you out! I’ve got a bunch of tricks up my sleeve for getting the little ones to do exactly what I want, and if they don’t? Oh well! I know how to follow their lead and still get the photos I need.
7.) Keep it simple and have FUN – The only thing you need to do is get the little homies ready and show up on time! During the session you have nothing else to worry about because I GOTCHU. Just go with the flow, follow my lead, let go of anything you’re worried about and you will get the absolute best results. Children can totally sense tension (I can too, hehe), and that tension can damper the enormous amount of fun we are about to have. This really can be a super fun experience for you and the family – we will likely be in a beautiful location, you’ll be lookin’ fresh, we’ll play games and laugh and crack jokes and eat snacks and I’ll probably have you make-out with your spouse (when was the last time you did THAT?!) and at the end your little ones will be my new best friends. It happens, just wait.
*Is there something you’re stressed about that I didn’t cover here? Or do you have a tip that worked really well for you on a past session? TELL ME!! I’d love to hear your ideas or offer my advice on whatever it is that’s worrying you. Now that you’ve read my “tips for success,” take a peek at Miss Charlotte’s successful session below (minus the balloon fiasco – wait for it).
Make sure to push “play” while you’re viewing! Song by Angus & Julia Stone