Just in time for Halloween tomorrow! I wanted to share with you a few tips for photographing your own brood.
We all want photos of our own children and since we are photographers, it’s second nature for us to grab our camera on a whim and snap away capturing all of their little moments. Sometimes, this can go really well. Sometimes, not so much…
I can vividly recall a moment I had with Jensen. It was February or March of 2014 and it was the first nice day we had in months! I had decided that year that I was going to do and COMPLETE a 365…..by March I had exhausted all the little pockets of light in our small home and living in Canada brings harsh, often seemingly endless, winters so as soon as this day arrived, we decided to go for a big walk outside to take advantage of a fresh outlook and warm-ish weather. Outside we went for a big walk and of course in tow was my sweet little 4 year old, Jensen. I started taking his photo and began asking him to stand still so I could get the shots I was craving to create. At one point he was cold, upset and just starting crying saying, ‘Mom, I don’t want any more photos” and refused to move his face from behind his blanket. It was that moment I realized I need to pick and choose and not be selfish when it comes to photographing my kids. Realizing more so than ever, that there is a time and a place and if they aren’t up for it, it’s okay. Quality time spent with my children is something I make sure to put before anything else.
I mean….look how stoked he was….lol (side note: my image organization was HORRIBLE back in 2014 and this took me FOREVER to find lol)
This also brings to my mind one of the best little photo sessions I had with Jensen and Hudson. It was the first time… I bribed them….like, really good, not yogurt that definitely used to pass as a bribe lol. I bribed them with Lego and let me tell you, it is AMAZING how that simple bribe changed my kid’s demeanor. Jensen was posing like crazy and listening to everything I said. He even encouraged Hudson, telling him that if he wanted lego, they both needed to be sure they were really good! The bribing was fun, but I also made the session fun by bringing along their skateboards and gave them a chance to have a lot of fun.
Here are my top 3 tips for photographing your kids, based on the experiences I’ve had photographing my own.
1 – Don’t Force It
You can’t force ANYTHING with kids. As soon as they aren’t feeling it, you’ll know. They’ll get upset, which makes me upset, which then makes them upset, and it’s just an endless cycle of disappointment. The best thing you can do is realize when the moment is over, accept it, and move on. Your kids will love you more for understanding when they just aren’t that into it. If your kids are getting upset, sit with them and spend some time with them. They may surprise you and be ready for more photos.
2 – Make It Fun
Making the time you spend together taking photos FUN is the BEST WAY to be sure they have a fun time and don’t end up hating being in front of the camera in the years to come. The biggest thing that works for me is if I give my kids a chance to explore and have fun FIRST before we start taking photos. If we are at a corn maze, exploring a new path on a mountain, or just in a new place, I let me boys run wild and be kids. I let them have fun and explore and take some photos from afar. After they’ve explored and had fun they are often a little more willing to have their photo taken.
3 – Get Them Involved
I bought these wooden digital cameras for my sons from Father’s Factory and I bring them out on shoots. I encourage them to take photographs, too! These wooden digital cameras were one of the best purchases for them because they get to ‘feel like mom’ and get to pretend to be like me while we are out! I also have a Polaroid Land Camera that I call my ‘Magic Camera’. It takes our ‘teamwork’ to see the photograph come to life; I’ll take the photo and let the kids peel it back!
Then, if all else fails, bring out the bribes. I reserve bribes for special occasions like when I have a trade deal with a client where they need photos, only because eventually you’ll just end up with too much Lego!
I’ve already thought about when my sons are 15 and give me a hard no when I ask to take their photograph. I know I’ll have to get more creative and tap into a more documentary style of photographing them in their natural habitats as teenage boys. It’ll be more lifestyle and less posed, and I’ll also always be sure to ask their consent first.
Photographing your kids can be one of your greatest joys or greatest struggles if you don’t approach it correctly. Try out my tips and see if photographing your kids turns into a wonderful way to connect with them and have fun… all while creating photos you’ll cherish for a lifetime.