My #1 tip for getting good photos of your kids is not going to be what you think, but it’s actually the most neglected step I see moms make… we need to prepare our kids for the photos.
Don’t get this confused with how to dress them- that’s important too (and you can check out that post here) but it’s not nearly as important as a child who actually enjoys having their photo taken.
The absolute *best* compliment I get is usually an hour after my clients leave their session. “My daughter keeps saying how much fun she had today taking photos!” “My son just asked when we can come back to see you take more pictures.”
From the moment I see a child, I start to prepare them mentally and emotionally for the photos I’m about to take. To be honest, I’ve mastered this as a professional and do a fantastic job… but I’ve dropped the ball many, many times when it comes to my own family.
I have failed and failed and failed at following my own advice with my sons, and it shows in the photos when I do and when I don’t prepare them for their photos. However, I have started making an effort with my own kids, and IT SHOWS. Without further ado, let’s get to My #1 Tip for Getting Good Photos of your Kids. I broke it up into 3 simple steps: explain, set expectations, and use bribery.
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You can’t explain things enough to children, I don’t believe. They are always asking us “why” because they want to know more… they want to understand. Having someone (even if it’s you) tell them to smile while looking at a weird black piece of metal in front of them is just uncomfortable, and they don’t understand. It can make them scared or uninterested. The key here is to explain exactly what is going on to your child. Let them know what a camera is, how the camera works (in your own words, of course), and why you want these photos made. Do your absolute best to respect your child and meet them where they are at when it comes to their relationship with the camera. Some might need more explaining than others.
As a certified educator, this was one of the first things I learned as a teacher. Set expectations and follow through. In this case, I don’t mean to set an expectation for good or bad behavior. Rather, set an expectation on the fun they will have! Set an expectation of how great these photos will look on the wall. Tell them how much their grandparents are going to love the photos if they have a good time with them. Before the session, maybe even on the drive there, set an expectation of a wonderful time… I promise it will make for better photos than setting an expectation on the punishment they will get if they don’t behave.
I said what I said. I’m going to ask you an honest question: how important are photos to you? Is it worth breaking a parenting code and telling your kids they will get ice cream after for following directions well? Will it ruin your children if you let them pick out a book or toy after a session you’ve been looking forward to all year? This is a question for each parent to answer, but I am going to give you mine. Having something for my kids to look forward to is cheap insurance that everyone has a good time, and I get good photos. That’s it. BONUS- if we go get ice cream or pick out a toy, that’s just extending the family time together and creating more memories they will never forget. It’s a win-win.
So there you have it! I feel that mentally and emotionally preparing a child for photos is key to ensuring success. You can do this by explaining what is going to happen, set expectations on the fun they will have, and use bribery (if your mom ego can take it) as a cheap form of insurance. Now it’s time to get photographing!
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