Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a child meltdown during the middle of a photography session. Yep, that’s right; probably at least seventy-five percent of us have been there. It’s frustrating on so many levels because on one hand you just want the little stinker to cooperate for five more minutes to get those last few good shots and on the other hand because you probably got ONE of him facing toward the camera but not looking at you. If you’ve ever had to spend hours in Photoshop post-processing one set of eyes onto the head and body of another image, read on.
1. Plan the session for the child’s peak time of day.
Yeah sure, mom and dad might feel like they look their best in the afternoon, but if the child is most cooperative right after he wakes up in the morning and eats breakfast, make use of that morning golden hour and schedule the session then. If he is better off taking a nap and having a snack before the session, I have found that four o’clock sessions generally work wonderfully.
2. Make friends with the kids when you meet for the session.
Being a nanny as well as a photographer has taught me that often times kids need a few minutes to warm up to being themselves around strangers. If you make it a big deal that you’re excited to meet them and start talking about some kid shows (think Caillou, Dora the Explorer, or Phineas and Ferb) they are much more likely to be themselves around you.
3. Suggest a candid session.
This is probably my most favorite trend in photography right now and it creates beautiful images for a lovely wall collage of the session. Suggest the family meet you at the local park dressed and ready to go when they get there. Pose them and snap a few formal shots quickly before the kids get rowdy to play on the jungle gym. Some shots could include sitting on a park bench, the family walking toward or away from you all holding hands, or my personal favorite – in the fall, rake some leaves together and have them sit while tossing them in the air. If you give the kids something to occupy their minds, it will distract them from the fact that someone is taking their picture.
4. If all else fails, use bribery.
It may go against everything ever written about parenting, but discuss this with the parents beforehand. Tell them to bring a piece of candy (NOT COLORED!), the child’s favorite toy, or tell them you’re going to get ice cream after if they’re good. I’ve used this many times and if you get the parents on board – and they usually are since they are paying to capture the totally unrealistic moment that their entire family sat still and cheesed for the camera. Oh, ad trust me about the colored candy thing… learned that from a blue ring pop. You can Photoshop eyes, but I have yet to find an efficient way to remove blue lips and cheeks.