You’re a photographer, and you’re trying to take headshots of an uncooperative child who won’t stand still in front of the camera. Another one is running wild in your studio, hanging off doors, C-Stands, throwing around equipment, playing with computers, making a mess while eating snacks (and dropping CHOCOLATE on the floor for your dog to eat), and turning up the music so it feels like you’re in a club.
And in trying to stop the bad behavior, the parents are (unintentionally) making it worse.
I had to end this particular session before we even got through less than half of the looks. We were supposed to do 3 looks for each child and a FAMILY PORTRAIT, but we ended up barely getting through 2 looks for one child and only 1 for another. This is because the chaos I described above is no exaggeration.
The kids were just not into getting their photos taken.
No matter what I did, they did not want to stand in one place, MUCH LESS look at the camera. It didn’t help matters when Mom and Dad gave the kids snacks and food, causing further disruption to the process.
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But when they commented on how their kids look shy in the pictures but aren’t in real life 🤦🏼♀️, I had to put the breaks on and call it quits.
Although I don’t work with kids that often, this scenario has happened to me one too many times not to write an article to help parents get better results during their photo session for the little ones.
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So… here’s my advice to any parent wanting to get their kids into the industry.
1. SET EXPECTATIONS
No matter how young, always ASK your child if they would like to get their pictures taken with a real photographer! If you get an enthusiastic yes, explain that during the photo session, she will have to stay in one place and look at the camera. Demonstrate this with your phone or camera. Have practice sessions.
Then, ASK AGAIN.
Now that your child understands what taking pictures means, she may not be ready for a professional session. If she’s not, it’s okay! Don’t force the process! If you do, even if you get usable headshots, your child will likely not audition well for a job interview, and you will have wasted your money. It’s best to wait for the right time and ensure your investment will pay off POSITIVELY!
2. SCHEDULE YOUR SESSION AROUND NAP TIME
NEVER disrupt nap time for a photo shoot unless you want mediocre results. Always make sure your kids are rested and not grumpy so that the outcome is worth the effort.
Otherwise, what’s the point of making such a huge investment with your time and money, right?
3. MAKE SURE YOUR KIDS ARE WELL FED BUT NOT WITH SUGAR
It may seem obvious, but another reason kids don’t do well in front of the camera is because they are hungry or wired up from sugar. You want to avoid ALL possible distractions and obstacles to a successful outcome, and this one is just as important as the nap.
4. NEVER BRIBE KIDS WITH FOOD OR TREATS
This is a surefire way to prevent us from doing our jobs effectively, because GUESS WHAT?
Bribes don’t work!
All they do is create another distraction away from the camera. Young kids simply don’t understand negotiation. 99% of the time, as soon they hear they will be getting something they like, they focus on getting that thing NOW, and without fulfilling their end of the bargain.
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5. UNDERSTAND YOUR RESPONSIBILITY DURING A SHOOT
It goes without saying that while shooting one child, if I’m distracted because I’m trying to prevent my equipment from being damaged, or my dog from getting sick because of the chaos ensued by another child, then I can’t do my job well.
It’s important that you temper the behavior distracting the adults as well. Making sure that your child is well-behaved and sitting in one place, waiting his turn, is CRUCIAL to a successful session!
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