I had the honor of photographing my sweet little niece on a recent visit to Western Australia. Her Mom knew of a lovely spot in Jarrahdale filled with lilies. It was located on a hillside with a creek running below and basically looked like it came from a movie scene. I had never seen a field of lilies like this. We caught it just in time as well, as they were about to start dying... by the next week they were almost all brown.
We had a lovely session that morning, accompanied by Rubi's Mom and "Nina". They weren't expecting to be in any images, but I couldn't help but snap a couple shots of them with Rubi. I love showing the bond between kids and their mother and grandmothers. Those turned out to be some of my favorites from this session. The moral of the story is to always be prepared to be in a few shots when you accompany me to your kid's session. :) Hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoyed working on them! Rubi had plenty of smiles for us that day.
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Whether it's family portraits or strictly the kids, it can be stressful trying to prepare for your session. Here are a few tips to help relieve some of that stress and ensure your kiddos' personalities are accurately captured.
Clothing. It’s always a good idea to dress your kids in their outfits at least once before wearing them to the session. This gives the kids a chance to get used to them (especially if wearing a new accessory such as a hat) and also gives you an idea of how it will look in pictures. The child should be comfortable and the clothes should fit well. You don’t want them to be tugging at their clothes during the session. You may also realize that the color you chose isn’t the best to compliment their features and decide another outfit would suit them better.
Lambie. One of my favorite little girls has a small stuffed lamb that she carries with her everywhere… aka Lambie. If your child has a “Lambie” or any comfort toy that is always with them, be sure to bring it. This will help give them assurance while getting to know a strange photographer. While it doesn’t have to be used during the entire session, you may want it to be included in a few of your images. These are great for showing that special bond between them, and you’ll love having that precious memory captured as well.
Naps. Sometimes it’s hard for those kids who take naps and go to bed early to be at their best during the "golden hour” (within two hours of sunset). For these situations, I advise waking the child up earlier from their morning nap so that they can take their afternoon nap a little earlier. You don’t want to wake them up early from their afternoon nap to bring them directly to the session... their grumpiness will show up in the images. It often helps to have some down or quiet time before getting ready for their session, if possible. It’s usually hectic getting everything together, so kids often will respond better if given some time to relax beforehand.
Cheese. I rarely use “cheese” during sessions. Kids almost always respond with a very forced, unnatural smile (especially pre-school aged children). My goal is to capture their natural expressions in a range of emotions — I’ve found that asking them questions about their favorite toys, movies, etc., usually produces what I’m looking for. To move away from the ‘cheese’ expression, an idea for parents is to practice with their kids in the mirror a few days before the session. You can turn it into a game and ask them to make certain faces… funny, happy, sad, etc.. This will give them a chance to see how they look when making those faces.
Music. Do your kids have a favorite song or genre of music they enjoy? It’s helpful to let your photographer know or to even have it available on your phone. I recommend a playlist if possible. This can help loosen up a child and bring out their natural expressions. Kids always enjoy a dance break as well… and it’s fun to capture their personalities during these times.
Sick. If your child is sick, it will show in the images and greatly hamper the ability of the photographer to capture their little personalities. It’s best to follow the same guidelines as school… if they are well enough to go to school, they can attend their session. Otherwise, you’ll need to reschedule. Keep in mind that children and family photographers are meeting with other clients as well, and you don’t want to pass anything on.
Snacks. Be sure to eat beforehand so they’re not hungry, but snacks are nice to have available (especially during down times if during a family or sibling session). This will give them something to do or hold during the session if they get fussy. Make sure to think about the mess different types of snacks can create, however. It’s best to stay away from snacks that contain dye (red dye #40 for example) and other items that will quickly mess up their clothes or stain their mouths. Jelly beans, dried fruit, and cheese are a few examples of good snacks. Think small... that way it won't detract from the image if it's in their mouth or hands.
Have you found other things that work for your kids?
We would love to read about them in the comments...
Savannah. Christian. Wife. Software Engineer. Photographer.