Feb 28, 2011

Photographing Your Own Kids!

::sigh::  . . . photographing our own kids . . .

. . . it can be a frustrating, make you wanna scream, pull your hair kind of endeavor.  There are some ways you can plan in advance and be smarter than the little, tiny human.

Here’s a list of our 5 favorite tricks for outsmarting little ones:

1. Simple Props: take a bag (or 3) of props that you can provide choices from. They must all be choices that you are ok with being in the picture. Food is generally not a great one because they get so involved. Or in the case above, stuff their face full of marshmallows & therefore have really chubby cheeks!

2. Choice of Two: Instead of saying, “Sit here.” “Hold this.” ” Wear this hat. “Don’t move.” “Look here!” Say, “Here are 5 hats, can you help me out and choose your favorite?!”

“Do you want to stand on the box/chair/bench OR sit on the box/chair/bench??” or “what do you think will look better?” (for 3-4 yrs and up) 

“Do you want to put the marshmallows in hot chocolate OR do you want mommy to?” “let’s see how high we can count!” (Then only offer 1 at a time OR 1 treat per clickity click, and  just keep them in your pocket). Sounds oddly like dog treats you say? Well yes it does. Sooo?

3. Don’t Ask Yes or No Questions (i.e., Mommy’s so silly – she needs my help!)

You’re going down a dead-end road when you ask little ones questions like, “what color is your shirt? is it pink?” All they can say is “yea” and their done. So are you! I hear this a lot too, “what are you playing with? is that your frog?” “yea.”  Done. Don’t ask a yes/no question and don’t answer the question you’ve asked for them!

Instead, say, “Awww. That’s so silly {speaking of the frog} that must be your favorite dinosaur!”

Then they get to be all smarter than you. And, let the weird questions begin . . .  just play dumb! They love feeling like they are teaching you something. Then they are doing all the talking (and laughing hopefully).

4. Random/Totally Weird OR Age Appropriate Surprises:

“Oh my word, I think I just heard a lady bug fly by!? Did you hear her?” “You have to sit really nicely and smile pretty and maybe she’ll fly by again.”

This one always has to be novel to get their attention, and obviously child appropriate. I’m pretty sure a little boy will not be impressed by the lady bug. And, you have to be so into whatever your story is. They are just sooooo immune to hearing “look, look”. The element of surprise makes for more authentic and organic facial expressions where you really see their personality. You can also keep them engaged longer by not yelling at them and acting crazy and standing on your head. Or bribing them with candy or legos. They get overstimulated with all of those “grandma” antics. (our grandmother does this – maybe yours doesn’t! lucky you.)

I’ve captured some pretty awesome giggles by whispering weird “secrets.” ( i.e., “Don’t tell, it’s a secret . . . daddy has on pink polka dot underwear!!!)

5. Stay Calm and Follow Their Lead:

As hard as this one is for us adults to do when we are seeking the perfect picture, you have to follow the little humans’ lead. These are always my best pictures. Believe it or not, the above pictures were not what I went to capture on this day. These two (or the 4 year old at least) had her own ideas. And, even though it took every ounce of restraint I had, I followed her lead & it was better; much, much, better. So you just have to train your brain to do it. Otherwise, your pictures might be flat and emotionless.

Finally, hire a pro (at least once a year): Professional child photographers specialize in creatively capturing your kiddo and YOU. Photos are how we document the relationships and bonds in our lives. You don’t want to miss out on that by being behind the camera all the time. So many of our memories would not be imprinted in our minds without that concrete visual we get in a photograph. So make sure and do it! It’s important. Custom photography is an investment, so see who is in your area. Then choose someone you think you will feel comfortable being you with and someone who has the kinds of images you imagine having on their blog/website. You can begin searching right here at NAPCP.

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Jennifer Allison, this is such a clever article and can even work the tips into every day "compromises!" I will try them all. Many thanks!

Karena Dixon What a great article for photographing our own kids and our clients. I sometimes get "writer's block" when I've had back to back shoots. Very helpful...and beautiful images! Thank you!

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