Over the years I've photographed 10,000s of babies, toddlers and kids in the studio, client’s homes and nurseries. We used to do over 60 private nurseries per year, that’s a lot of children!!
I've certainly experienced it all, from the little smilers to the crying tantrums. Yes, kids can be very unpredictable at times, so if you haven’t had a great deal of experience with photographing children then here’s a few little tricks I’ve learnt over the years.
One of the biggest mistakes photographers make is to try and push the child who doesn't want to sit for a photograph, this is never going to work.
The first thing you need to realise is, yes, the child will most probably sit for a photograph but it will often be on their terms!!!
Here are a few ideas that will make the shoot a whole lot easier.
1/ Firstly put the camera away
Let the child get used to you and tell the parents NOT to intervene, it only makes things worse if you have a mam and dad trying to bribe or give the child an ultimatum.
2/ Get down to their level
Sit on the floor next to the child and get a conversation going, ask about their favorite toy or TV show - anything that strikes up a bit of chat going between you both.
3/ Add a bit humor
Once you find something the child is happy to talk about start adding a bit of humor to the conversation, this is great for breaking down barriers. And, yes talking about breaking wind is essential!!
4/ Photograph someone else and ask them to help
If the child is still unsure you can always start by photographing mam or dad or better still a brother or sister, involve the child and ask them to help you. Show them the results on the back of the camera and ask them if they'd like to see their own photograph on the camera too.
5/ Don’t rush, take your time
If the child still won't sit then don't push them. Encourage them to play with a few toys carefully placed in an ideal spot for a photograph. As the child starts to play take a few photographs and show them the results.
Sometimes you may only get the natural photographs of the child at play, but then sometimes these are the perfect photographs that the parents totally love. If this works then bring the family to the child and create a natural family portrait around the child's play.
One great secret weapon is a bubble machine, you can pick them up on eBay for £10 and they've turned many screaming crying kids into little smiles for me.
If you do have any tips to add I love to hear them, we all have our own little tricks maybe you have a great one that I’m missing out on too.
Thank you, Jeff