“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Little Skye Boutique, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #embracechildhood http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
This time of year is often the most popular time for taking family photos or pictures of our kids. I actually ended up taking more family pictures for friends and family in the Fall than I normally do, and we had our own family pictures taken as well.
While I in no way profess to be a “professional”, I have learned a thing or two along the way when it comes to taking pictures of kids. Most of this has been discovered through trial and error – I’m afraid. I’ve struggled my way through trying to capture grumpy kids, sad kids, overly excited wiggly kids – you name it. So whether you are the picture taker or the mom trying to get her kids to cooperate – I want to share some tips on what to do before, during, and after a photo shoot with kids to achieve images you’ll love and treasure – and to make it a good experience for everyone.
I recently took my oldest daughter out for her 9 year old photo shoot, sporting her oh-so-darling dress she picked out from Little Skye Kids’ Boutique Clothing from their Blu Pony Vintage Clothing line.
I worked hard to practice the principles I am about to share with you, and it ended up being a wonderfully memorable experience for both of us – in spite of the freezing weather! (P.S. – If you are looking for holiday dresses for girls, you must see Little Skye Kids’ Boutique Clothing. They also have the most charming vintage style outfits for kids of all ages, boy or girl.)
3 Things to do BEFORE a Photo Shoot with Kids:
1. Prepare the Environment
I love to capture un-staged, candid moments of my children. However, things become vastly different when all members know there will be pictures and good behavior is hoped for. If there is a photo shoot planned, then the photo shoot needs to be prepared for. First focus on preparing the environment – hopefully something you can control (if the weather cooperates). If you have props, get them organized way before hand. If there are certain outfits planned, be sure every single piece is laid out and ready, down to the socks and hair bows. Preparing the environment is essential to avoiding stressful, rushed and chaotic moments beforehand – all things that can ruin a photo shoot before it even begins. Now – I know this is so much easier said than done. I have 4 kids. Chaos is just part of that. But do your very very best to have everything ready beforehand – so when the baby soils his diaper right before you have to leave – you can handle it with grace 😉
Before this shoot, there was a lot to prepare for. I had all the supplies I needed packed in the car, ready to go. I had a super warm blanket right next to me to wrap her in every couple of minutes. I had a thermos full of hot cocoa ready for us and a constant warm car waiting. She stayed warm in the car while I added my props and when I was ready to go – so was she.
2. Prepare Your Mind
This is when I tell you that I am fully aware that you have a 3 year old that would never cooperate for a photo shoot in the wintry forest. That is why you would never take pictures of your 3 year old in a wintry forest. It is important that long before you have a photo shoot planned, you arrange one that is realistic to the needs of your child. Each child is so different and will react different than other children. This is why as a mother, parent, photographer – you have to prepare your mind for the situation. What is the worse that can happen? What will I do, WHEN it happens? What can I realistically expect of my child? When you are sure you are not setting your child up for failure, then you need to prepare your bag of tricks. This is not a literal bag of tricks – unless you figure you need one. These are jokes to have on hand to make your child laugh. Yes – sometimes potty talk works the best. These are prompts you will give your child that you know they respond well to. If you have someone else taking your pictures, it might be wise to share these things with them. Write down, if you need to, the things you can say or should not say to your kids to get them to react in a way that you expect. I’ve witnesses all sorts of bribery being used with parents, and used them myself. However, promising a child candy for smiles or the likes is not always a recipe for success. Though – I don’t know your child so I won’t say what will work and what will not. You just might want to try the things I suggest and see if they don’t work better than bribery.
3. Prepare the Child
This goes for newborns on up. Make sure they are not hungry, tired, or had a really hard day. If they are old enough to understand you – there are many things you can do to prepare them and excite them for the photo shoot ahead. If it is family photo’s – look at old family pictures and laugh together about them. Show enthusiasm and excitement for what lies ahead. Help them to see the purpose and importance of the pictures that will be taken. My sweet girl – she knew I needed these for my blog and she knew they were to document her age. By knowing the reason behind mom asking her to stand out in the cold without a coat – she was able to enjoy the moment with me. We had set aside the day and time and I treated it like it was to be a special date for us alone.
She was able to select her own outfit from Blu Pony Vintage Clothing, and she even had the idea to add the birds in a tree.
The pictures we made together hold so much more meaning for both of us because we were both involved in the process.
3 Things to do DURING a Photo Shoot with Kids:
1. Don’t force it!
We all know who always wins in a power struggle between parent and child, right? Trying to force your kids to sit still and smile for too long is a battle you usually cannot win. It is so much better to just let them be kids! Embrace childhood and accept that you would rather capture them as they are and not who you want them to be.
I have found that my children need a little guidance like where to stand, chin up, or where is that smile? – but my most treasured images are when they just be themselves.
Let them strike their own pose! It will be something you had never thought of, and you will love them for it.
I really learned this principle when we had my dear friend take our family pics this year. I was so worried about the fact that my 4 year old wouldn’t look up and she was enthralled in a sunflower she found.
I asked her to put it down, and Sandy told me – “don’t worry about it!” I love the image above. I love that she is more interested in a flower than smiling for a picture. I love that the 1 year old is distracted as 1 year old should be. I love that my older girls are relaxed and having fun – because mom and the photographer was. I also love that my husband is so good looking 😉 And I love that we form a heart.
So get it out of your head that a family picture has to be everyone smiling at the camera! A family picture should be allowing everyone to be who they are and not forced into something else. My absolute favorite image of my brothers family came when I let the boys loose to be boys.
It happened naturally, and without tears.
One more thing on this topic – because I feel it is so important. You may have a photo shoot that is a total flop. I’ve had them several times. Some kid might just be completely unmanageable. But you have to be so very careful to not make it so miserable for them that the next time the camera comes out, they resist right away. Don’t let them think you are upset with them, or that they failed. Just move on and you can only hope that because you stayed calm, the next time will be better. My kids don’t dread my camera in their face as much as they used to, because I’ve worked hard to make it a good experience for us both.
2. Have fun!
I already touched on that a bit – but be sure you are having fun. While my daughter and I were driving up the canyon, I got a bit giddy and told her how excited I was.
She laughed at me and said I was treating her like a real life doll I got to play with. Ha! Boy was she right!
But she felt my enthusiasm and we had a great time. We snuggled up in the car and drank hot cocoa and laughed about the driver-by’ers who were giving us really weird looks, and how crazy I must have looked placing birds in a tree in the freezing cold. We looked at the images on my camera together and talked about how cute they looked. All this really takes me to my 3rd point.
3. Make the moment about more than just pictures.
These images of my daughter will always be more than just a picture. Do what you can to make the night or moment special. Capture your family or kids involved in an actual activity. This is usually called lifestyle photography, and they can be the most moving images when kids are captured being kids.
What to do AFTER a Photo Shoot with Kids:
1. Do Something Fun.
If that means going out to dinner or for ice-cream afterwards, then do it. If you took pictures at a park, be sure to let them play afterwards. End the session with only good memories and they will look forward to the next photo shoot.
2. Show them the images!
How many times do we store the pictures on the computer and never do anything with them? The kids won’t see them and they won’t understand why the pictures were so important in the first place. My kids love their photo albums (even though I am a few years behind), and they love to see their pictures displayed at home. They get that when I take pictures, they get to see themselves so they are more willing to give me their best the next time.
3. Thank them.
No matter the behavior – no matter the images – no matter how tired you might be . . . tell them thank you! Make them feel proud for their sweet smiles and for being there. Make them feel important and lovely. Make sure they know they are far more important than any picture and you appreciate their efforts.
They will love you for it 😉
I hope this (really long) article was helpful for you in some way. If you have any questions that I did not address, I’d be happy to try to help.
Before you go, I wanted to be sure you knew about the promotion going on this month for Little Skye children’s clothing boutique.
“All Paper Wings for Little Skye and Blu Pony Vintage for Little Skye purchases through 12/15/2015 receive a Free Shipping & a $25 gift card valid on future purchases for every $100 spent when you use code BLGLS2015.”
What a great deal! You will love shopping their adorable line of vintage clothing for kids. We sure did!
Thanks for reading!
*Linking up to these parties, HERE.