There are many reasons you would put off booking a professional photographer to capture your family. From cost (which I spoke about in my last post in this series) through to worrying about how YOU look (which I will address in a later post because that’s a biggie!). Today though I am going to talk about probably what many parents get most stressed about.
My kids will be a total nightmare!!
I’m a parent. I totally get it and as a professional photographer of over 10 years I have seen and heard it all. All of the fear and apologies from parents that their children will probably be a handful. Mums and Dads often apologise in anticipation of the shoot in preparation of what they fear will come.
Let’s get this out of the way from the very beginning. Kids are kids. Kids rarely do what you want them to do especially if they know it’s a big deal. They like to keep us on our toes. No kid is a total angel all of the time. These are the facts. That’s what makes them kids and however we might deny it, it is why we love them. It’s what makes them unique.
Lots and lots of people ask me if the images I take are of either my own kids, people I know or professional models. The answer to all of these assumptions is a big fat nope. Yes I do photograph people I know, that’s inevitable but I have rarely ever met their children. The kids you see on my website are ‘real’ kids like yours and I have often only met them for about 1 – 2 hours. Good photographers will know what to do to get THAT expression, capture THAT moment and I want to share some of those tips with you in this post.
There are plenty of things you can do to minimise this ‘stress’ and get the results you are dreaming of. So here are my top 10 tips.
- Pick the right photographer. I talked about this a bit in my last post and yet again I am not going to tell you I am the right photographer for you. But you should always pick a photographer who has LOTS of experience of working with children. A good children’s photographer will have a natural way of making little ones feel comfortable and have fun. It is as important as knowing how to use your camera. Before you book ask them lots of questions and have a really good look at their portfolio.
- Your photographer should ask you plenty of questions before the session about your children and your family. They’ll ask about their personalities (are they shy, extroverted etc.), their likes and dislikes and their interests. This is usually enough to prepare but if you feel you’d benefit by letting the kids meet the photographer first then just ask. This shouldn’t be a problem for them.
- Does your child have any special needs? Do they have trigger points or any phobias? I have photographed many children with special requirements from Autism to Downs Syndrome and hearing and speech difficulties etc. It’s really important to spend the time so your photographer knows as much about this as possible before the day.
- Plan the time of your shoot carefully. When are your kids at their best? Do they still nap? When do they usually eat? Get this right and you are on to a winner.
- Don’t make the shoot a big deal. You need to be pretty relaxed about it in front of the kids (however you feel). Most kids will end up playing you up more when they know its a HUGE deal. Bless their cottons. Depending on the age of the children you might want to say that you are meeting a friend who is going to take some pictures or if you think it’d help arrange to meet your photographer before hand so they can get to know them first.
- Chill out, relax and breathe. If you are tense your kids will be tense. This even works for newborn babies. I don’t know how but I think they can sense stress and mirror it.
- During the shoot resist the temptation to get shouty. You know what I’m talking about here. If they are being a handful don’t get cross. I’ve heard many, many times parents say things like. “Now do what the lady says, stop being a nightmare and SMILE!!!!” or “Say cheese!!!”. Kids wont perform if you tell them too (usually quite the opposite). A good children’s photographer will know exactly what to do and how to get the results you want. So sit back, relax and let them do what you’ve paid them to do as a professional.
- Make sure you take breaks during the shoot. Most photographers will be able to spot when this needs to happen (this comes back to being good with kids). Have some juice and snacks ready and have a play for a bit. This really makes a difference. Children generally have short attention spans and this needs to be taken into account.
- If your kid goes into meltdown don’t get embarrassed. I don’t mind in fact I expect it at some time or another. It’s totally fine if it happens. I’m a parent and I know the embarrassment of your child rolling around on the floor in the supermarket having a paddy over cereal choices. I get it. I have seen it all. Trust me.
- If they melt down it doesn’t mean you won’t get good photos. I did a shoot some years ago and I wont lie to you, the kids were hard work. At the end of the shoot the Dad apologised to me and thanked me for my time. When I showed him his gallery a week later he was surprised to say the least and thought I’d shown him someone else kids!! It’s all about knowing when to press that magic shutter. I’ll never forget his face.
The moral of this post should perhaps be LET THE KIDS BE THEMSELVES. Pick a professional you trust and watch the magic take shape and remember to …. breathe!!
Until next time,