Pinterest and Facebook would have us believe this world is full of smiling, cooperative kiddos just waiting for you to grab your camera and capture those perfect moments. Unfortunately my momma friends, you're more likely to stumble across Nessy, Big Foot, and Jimmy Hoffa playing cards than you are to find "that" kid.
In reality, kids are fast, they're temperamental, and they have non-existent attention spans. Thankfully, there are ways to "cheat the system" and start getting better photos of your kids. So let's hop to it!
Capture them in their "Natural Habitat"
Kids feel most comfortable in a familiar environment. If they're happy and secure in their surroundings, they'll look comfortable and content in your photos. So where are they most likely to flash those precious smiles? Running through the sprinkler in Grandma's backyard? Swinging at the playground down the street? Splashing in the neighborhood pool? Grab your camera and head on out there! Good times await your photographing :)
Find their "Currency"
Candy? Sleep overs? Parents, don't bother with bribes. Really. Most kids I work with aren't at an age where they can truly appreciate the "smile for the camera now, get something you want later" agreement. At best, bribes lead to lots of forced, fake, cheesy grins. Threats are even worse, and introduce fear into what should be a fun and light-hearted photo taking experience
Instead, find what will keep your kids smiling in the moment. REAL smiles! I've played action figures with a 3 year old, snapped plenty of genuine grins on swing sets, seen kids go crazy for glitter, and captured HUNDREDS of bubble-beaming babes. Photos should be FUN, so find your kids' "currency" and plan accordingly.
Lay on the charm!
Flattery is one of those things that people of ALL ages appreciate - ESPECIALLY children! I dare even the most stubborn child not to crack a smile when you compliment the outfit THEY picked out all on their own, or how impressed you are by their latest Lego or crafting creation.
Timing is EVERYTHING!
In our lighting segment, we talked about the importance of taking outdoor photos during the day's "Golden Hours." Fact is, if this means skipping nap time, you're asking for a bunch of photos like these...
Schedule your photos wisely! Whether your children are morning-people, or at their best after their afternoon naps, capitalize on THEIR "golden hour".
Uh oh. Keep calm, mama! Kids smell the fear/anxiety/frustration on us adults. It's important to stay collected, positive, even downright silly! Remember, photos should be FUN - for you both.
When a meltdown arises, you need to consider "why"?
- Are they tired? Crankiness gets worse, not better. Pack up your camera and your kiddo and try again tomorrow.
- Are they bored? Give them something to do! "Who can jump the highest??" "Can you blow a bubble as big as my head??"
- Are they frustrated? Whatever their complaint, the solution is the same: distract, distract, distract! Animal sounds, favorite toys, a tickle "fight" - get creative! Everything you try to keep the peace at the grocery store or out at dinner, applies here too.
Be willing to recognize limits - theirs AND yours - and know you'll have much better photos as a result if you just try again another time.
New to our "Mentor Monday" segment? Get caught up on my top tips for taking better photos TODAY with ANY CAMERA! Check out the full series here.