Last summer my daughter and I were having a lazy day and I was down right bored. I didn't have a whole lot on the "To Do" and needed to get my creative juices flowing.
I had purchased a white vintage children's dress at a local antique store that was sitting in her closet and had never been used, so I quickly grabbed it, made a simple headband out of twine and threw a fake flower on it. I had ZERO expectations on how the session would go and really didn't care if I was able to capture anything "good" to my standards... it was all about just getting out and having fun.
When it comes to photographing other people's children, it comes easily for me. The majority of children who meet someone new have a shyness about them that lasts about 5-10 minutes while they are getting to know them. For me as a photographer, I provide that space and get down on their level to show them I am their friend and we are going to have fun... But that is for another blog post... This is post is how to photograph your children in 15 minutes or less.
Believe it or not, ALL of the images taken in this post were taken in less than 15 minutes. And no, it is not because I am a professional photographer and know how to use my camera. Photographing my own vs. clients' children is completely different. So, here's a few quick tips on how to make it less stressful in photographing great photographs of your children in less than 15 minutes:
1.) CREATE A FUN IDEA: Prior to taking Brooklynn out for a quick photo shoot I know I have to create an idea for her to jump on board and participate. I also have to be enthusiastic about the idea, which in turn, makes her excited. Ideas could be as simple as:
- Dressing like a Super Hero
- Wearing a Princess Dress
- Wearing their favorite dress etc.
- OR just letting them wear what they've got on
2.) DON'T FRET OVER THE GETTING THE PERFECT PORTRAIT: As mentioned, I had ZERO expectations on how this fun photo shoot would happen. I didn't want any forced smiles or poses. In fact, I let HER choose how she wanted to pose. It was not about getting the "perfect shot" for social media to blubber over. It was about just capturing HER in her purest state of who she.
3.) NO CHEESE PLEASE: One little challenge I would like to encourage you with is to not use the word "cheese" with your children. Let them smile OR not smile in photos. One of my all time favorite images, which hangs as a 16x24 Canvas in my house is the image above of Brooklynn NOT smiling and looking at the camera. I love everything about this image... from her look to the wind blow hair. Allowing children to just BE creates stunning images. Forcing kids to smile feels in-genuine. Instead - get them to LAUGH. Their eyes will light up and sparkle!
4.) GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO DO: When Brooklynn was out in the field, I had her look for bugs, pick flowers, pull grass, twirl... I gave her suggestions on to keep her busy. Then every once in a while I'd say, "Hey Brooklynn, look at me real quick." She'd glance up and I'd take my shot. Capturing great images of our kids doesn't have to be overly thought out and drawn out for hours... It's about capturing just capturing THEM. My friend, and fellow photographer, Rachel Vos does this amazingly with her identical twin girls. Check out her Instagram feed HERE or on Instagram @rachelvos.
5.) GET ON THEIR LEVEL & SHOOT FROM A DISTANCE: While your child is playing, get down on their eye level before taking a photo. It will allow their eyes to connect directly with you when you call out their name to grab their attention. Another thing I love doing is photographing Brooklynn from about 10-15 feet away. By creating a little distance, it allows her to have space to do what she wants vs. me being up in her grill telling her what to do for a photograph. Instead, I use my lens to zoom in on her to capturing an up close portrait.
6.) NO FANCY GEAR NEEDED One more little thing... Don't let the fact that I have a "fancy camera" keep you from photographing cute pictures of your kids! Below is a shot I took of my daughter dressed up like a farm girl ready for a birthday party. She looked adorable and I love her authentic smile in this picture! :)
The most important thing is to HAVE FUN photographing your kids. I think parents' biggest frustration is that they are trying to get that "PERFECT" photograph vs. just allowing their children to have fun. We force our own preconceived expectations onto our kids for photos, which makes them anxious, upset, and frustrated because they're not "living up to what we want."
When I took Brooklynn out on that fun little photo shoot, we pretended we were finding fairies. We made it a fun experience... and out of that fun experience came some beautiful portraits that I now love and adore. So HAVE FUN! Put the "perfection expectations" away and photograph your children in creative ways! I would love the SEE those creative photos of yours too! Share them with me and I'll feature them on my blog!
Don't forget to also BE PRESENT in Portraits with your kids as well!!!