Those little ones who live with you….they know you…..I mean, they really know you. They know how to make you smile, how to annoy you, what your pet peeves are and how to get under your skin so they can accomplish their goals. This doesn’t always make for the best photography experience, especially when your kids dislike being in front of the camera.
So as it goes…“Look at the camera. Smile at the camera. No, your real smile. That ’s not your real smile. Come on! One good one and we can be done. Please…..” Does this sound at all like you. Trust me I’ve been there.
The Set Up
First things first, put that camera on a tripod. The tripod is the best way to improve your photography and it is also the best way of getting your child more comfortable in front of the camera. Now, that your hands are free; you are free to interact without a lens for a face. This makes a huge difference in the receptiveness of child.
Once your camera is set up and on a tripod you could use a remote trigger. This further removes the camera from your hands. Remote triggers are so small they can be tucked in the palm of your hand easily.
The lens that is best is the one that you have, right?
Yet, for those who have some to choose from I find that being closer to younger children is easier; they move a lot. I will use a 50mm or a 24-70mm. I can make small adjustments to their pose and be back to the camera before they move again in only a few steps.
Now you are set up to be stealthy even for the most disagreeable child. I like to talk about them. Get them to converse with me. Get eye contact with them. Surprise them. Flatter them. Make them feel on top of the world.
I try to change my dialogue from “look at the camera” to “Hey, is your favorite color puke green?” Instead of asking for their real smile, I try to create it. “I have a joke for you.” They look at you inquisitively. “Knock, knock…..” Really, I only have one joke memorized and they know it, but they still smile at my stupidity.
Your children have ideas. Great ideas for posing. Things you haven't thought of. Let them be themselves in front of the camera. This will promote confidence and expression. I promise later you will love that goof ball smile, the I'm so cool look and even the silly fake smile your pre-teen pulls.
One other person's expression you need to watch is your own; like I said, they can read you. Keep it positive, be happy and when that toddler just won't cooperate and cries they whole time. Pack it up and try again later or a pocket full of smarties works too. I have fun images of my little guy with his hat on and smarties in his hand. If a hat, stuffed animal, whatever makes them comfortable to be in front of the camera, I say let it happen. It's a memory that you'll love.
In the YouTube video below, you can see some of the tries it takes to get one good image when you are working with your own children. The image of all of them smiling will be the one that goes up on my wall, but the rest are beautiful reminders of their fun personalities and the carefree beauty of youth. Each one a story of their age etched in my heart and their story written in the stars....It's a Beautiful Life!!!!
Photographing your Own Children
Good luck when you’re out with your brood trying to capture that perfect picture! By the way, bribery is not off my list. You do what you have to, right?