The other day, Eric met with another photographer to buy a new camera bag for us. (In my ever so humble opinion, we didn’t need one, but it is nice!) As they were chatting back and forth about the type of photography they do, the other photographer commented that he finds working with kids really difficult, which is why he focuses on weddings. When Eric told me this, I had a little chuckle to myself, as this is what I LOVE the most about being a photographer! My favourite subjects are definitely kids and I’ve learned a few tricks over the years on how best to work with them. Here’s how to get the most out of a session 🙂
1 – Approach kids with an open and playful heart. Be willing to be silly and play with them. We did a session last weekend, and our client’s little girl loved saying “Baboo”. No one had any idea what it meant, but saying it made her smile, especially if we repeated the word to her. Capturing a child’s personality in an image, is the most important part working with kids. Being silly is the easiest way to do this. I’ve done everything from pretending to sneeze to making animal noises to making silly faces. I will do almost anything to get a laugh, and I’ve worked hard to teach this skill to Eric as well!
This image is from a couple of years ago now, but it really shows how we help kids warm up to a location that we want them in.
2 – Let kids be kids. Most little ones that I know, don’t like to stand still, smile and “behave”. They want to be silly and play, especially when the camera comes out. This is likely the hardest thing for us to try and tell our clients. Most of the parents that we work with, want their kids to cooperate with us and as a parent, I know where this tendency comes from. I get that no one wants their kids to be thought of as a challenge, but here’s what we’ve learned, the more you try and convince your kids to cooperate with you, the less cooperative they become. Also, the instant someone gets upset with their kids and tells them to “smarten up”, we may as well pack up our gear and head home, as it’s going to be really hard to get the expressions that we need from that point forward. If you think about it, who wants to smile after they’ve just gotten in trouble? It’s not always easy to tell parents to leave their kids in our hands and let them be silly, but it’s what we need in order to create incredible images.
Over the summer, Eric took the girls out for a walk at Pitt Lake and captured this photo of Ella.
As Ella’s gets older, she’s more and more “camera shy”, so we have to make less of a big deal about being in front of the camera. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding great light and just letting the kids hang out.
3 – Talk to kids like people. I’m not from a school of thought where I think kids should be “seen and not heard”. Every kid I’ve ever met has opinions. They have things that they love to do. The sooner I find out what that is, the easier it’s going to be for me to connect with them and get the images I need.
4 – Don’t be afraid to let them touch your gear. Kids are innately curious and I’ve always found that the quickest ways for kids to warm up to me, is to let them touch my camera. Sometimes I’ll even go so far as to let them take photographs of their parents in exchange for a few photographs of them. It all depends on the kid. The moment something becomes “off limits” is the moment that this object, and investigating it, becomes their sole focus!
5 – Relax and have fun. The more relaxed and happy you are, the better the session will be!