Designating time to photograph your child(ren) should not feel like something you should/need/have to do, there are plenty of tasks that fall into that category. When you take the time to photograph a person, you are sending a message to them that they are valued. Kids love and need that message. Seeing your kids through your camera lens can be an opportunity to really study your child and relate to them. A photo session can be a meaningful time spent with your kid creating memories. Here are some tips on how to make that work better for you and hopefully help you capture beautiful and important photos of your children.
1. Ask questions. Engage your kiddo by asking questions about things that excite him or her. This is a great way to bring out emotion and facial expressions. The images that you capture will be way more interesting than saying cheese for the camera. Try to evoke curiosity, surprise and wonder. Capturing expressions will be a walk down memory lane someday when they are older.
2. Create a memory. Make your picture time special “me and you” time by taking your child on a hike or walk at sunset. Talk about your favorite family memories and try not to put a limit on your time together. By doing this you will notice a typically camera shy kid become comfortable and excited in front your camera. This is also an opportunity to connect and make them feel special. You will by happy to have the pictures to go along with the shared memory.
3. Invite someone special. Have a special play date with a best friend or invite a grandparent along. Step back and take notice what their relationship is like. Are they silly? Affectionate? Ask them to have a staring contest or a thumb war and capture them laughing. Or, if it an affectionate relationship, document a hug between them or forehead to forehead. Bonus points for capturing the way they look at each other.
4. Commemorate a birthday. Talk about what it’s like to be 6, 7, 8… How is it different from last year? What will they get to do as a seven year old that they couldn’t do before? This is also a good time to use props or clothing to tell the story of what is special about that age. Is she really into soccer and always have a ball in hand? (Cassidy, Age 9) Does she refuse to leave the house without her pearls? (Sierra, Age 4).
5. Go to a favorite place. One of our favorite family activities is to walk through the arboretum by our house. One evening I took my camera along. Our 20 minute walk went out for an hour, with many stops for photos that my girls directed. It was great family time and I got the most wonderful silhouette of them holding hands as the sunsets. The photos feel familiar and true to who we are and what we like to do as a family.
6. Let them call the shots. A family shoot can sometimes turn into a fun activity. When I ask my girls what they want to wear and where there want to go, they are way more invested than when I tell them what we are doing. Empowering them to call the shots makes them feel trusted and capable. Sometimes I’ll even hand the camera over to them.
7. Make them laugh. There is nothing better than a photo of your kid with head thrown back, face scrunched up and mouth open in a wild squeal. Do what it takes to create this. They may not always be in the mood, and that’s okay, but when you see the opportunity, get silly. Tell farts jokes. Make a fool of yourself… and be ready! These are the photos that will be your favorites and will show up at weddings someday. Most importantly, laugh along with them!