The other day, one of the people I follow on Twitter was prepping for family portraits and asked for tips for her son who hates having his photo taken. I gave my best 140 character advice but thought I’d expand on it a bit.
Before setting up a photo session, try to figure out what it is that your child doesn’t like about having his/her photo taken. Have you had bad studio experiences? Do they hate sitting still? Dislike dressing up? Are they afraid of the flash? Bored because you’ve taken 12,000 photos of them?
Some quick tips for making your photo session a pleasant one.
1. Find a photographer who specializes in children. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers has a directory of qualified child photographers or a simple Google search like ”woodbury child photographer” should give you a variety of photographers to choose from.
2. Step away from the traditional studio. Many photographers will shoot on-location, either at your home or at a park. This allows kids to feel more comfortable and for the session to feel more like playtime and less like a chore. If you prefer a studio, look for an independent one with a fun setup.
3. Look for a photographer who shoots with natural light (the sun!) rather than flashes. Not only does it allow for more freedom in movement, but once kids realize that there’s no unpleasant flash of bright light to wait for, they tend to relax. This doesn’t mean that your shoot has to be outdoors. If you live in a home with good natural lighting (big windows or sliding doors, not lots of floor lamps), the shoot can be held there or your photographer should be able to help with finding a public indoor location with good light.
4. Wear comfy clothes. Don’t wear grubbies, obviously, but resist the urge to pull out the starchy new dress outfit and let the kiddos wear something that feels comfortable. In addition to making them feel better, you’ll have photos that actually look like them and isn’t that what you really want?
5. Bring a favorite toy. Preferably something classic that will look okay in a photo – a teddy bear, a fire truck, etc., but any true favorite is great. Your child will have something familiar to hold on to, it makes a good point of conversation between them and the photographer and if it’s something they’re generally inseparable from, it’ll be part of the picture memory.
6. Don’t bribe. This is a big one for me. Please don’t bribe your kids prior to a photo session. All it does it set up the session as something they’ll hate and not want to do and lording a “reward” over them the entire session makes it awkward for everyone. Photo sessions CAN be fun, they absolutely do not have to be a miserable experience. If that’s how you approach it with your children, it’ll help make it easier for them to feel the same way. And if the session goes great and you want to finish with an ice cream cone or lollipop, by all means, enjoy. :)
Mandy Dwyer is a photographer specializing in babies, children and families in Woodbury and the surrounding cities. Her company, Glimpses of Soul Photography, was recently nominated Best Photographer in the Woodbury Patch Readers' Choice Awards.