Little ones are always busy, always moving. Staying relaxed and pretending there is not an agenda on hand is easier said than done, but the mood rubs off on kids in the best way possible. It’s as if a camera is an instant signal for a child to amp up their level of crazy (especially my own children). Gone are the days of telling them to say, “Cheese”. This hardly ever works for natural authentic smiles, and the moment a kid hears it, they obediently put on their cheesy “picture face”. The best thing to do is engage them if they’re holding still in front of the camera long enough. I ask them questions to engage in conversation and make the experience more interesting to them:
What is your favorite color?
How old are you? Can you show me how many fingers?
What’s your favorite toy to play with?
They don’t have to be ground-breaking or thought out, but it’s helpful to spark their interest with something that is exciting to them so their expressions match their excitement in talking to you.
Some of my all-time favorite images captured of children were moments they didn’t realize I was taking their photo. Give them breaks if it’s a portrait session to explore, climb on things, look for bugs, etc. Remember, your subject doesn’t have to be looking directly at the camera (or even facing the camera at all for that matter) in order for your image to tell a powerfully authentic story. When photographing my own children, I love to sneak up on them. Peering in from a doorway or calling them to come out of a room as I’m hiding around the corner has led to some of my favorite photos of them.
3. Be You
Children are intuitive and perceptive: the more authentic you are, the more they’ll respond in kind. When you are relaxed and genuine in connecting with them, the more relaxed and comfortable they become following your direction.
Happy Shooting! Be sure to check out the style guide for tips and ideas for selecting what to wear for family photos?
Jill Simonds is a Fort Collins Photographer who loves capturing families, babies, weddings, and seniors.