People always ask me how I do it. How do I get children to cooperate and do the things they do in my photography sessions? It is really all about connecting with and understanding the needs of my littlest subjects and preparing for a successful session. In this blog post, I will share some tips to get you on your way to creating magical moments to capture in your sessions with babies and children.
Give Them Something To Do
Giving children something to do while you photograph them will help keep them engaged, in position, and happy. Be sure to make it fun!
Ask mom and dad what the little ones’ favourite songs are, and play them during the session. You will get genuine smiles, laughter, and some great storytelling photos.
Let Them Be Little.
Babies and children are the easiest subjects in the world to photograph because everything they do is adorable. So, let them be. Chewing on a leaf, eating an apple, exploring their surroundings…. It all makes for an adorable shot, and real, palpable memories for mom and dad.
Act As An Observer
Set up a scene, position the children where you need them, and then sit back and see what unfolds. Often, children and babies give us exactly what we are looking for and more with little to no direction. You may be surprised what beautiful portraits you can take allowing children to take the lead. Some of my favourite images are the most spontaneous and unplanned moments.
Make Sure They are Appropriately Dressed
Little ones that are too hot or too cold are far less likely to cooperate than little ones that are comfortable. I always have extra sweaters and shawls on hand for my sessions and you will never see me photograph a young girl in a light dress outside in the middle of winter.
Make Sure They Have a Healthy Meal
Instruct the parents to try not to feed the children a sugary, simple carb meal prior to the shoot.
Little ones that have a tummy full of wholesome, healthy food are less likely to crash and burn during a session. I always ask parents not to feed their children sugar prior to our session and not to pack candies, sugary snacks, or soft drinks.
Bring an Assistant
This is a big one! I bring an assistant to every shoot I do for a multitude of reasons. One, children are more likely to cooperate with a complete stranger than their own parents (it’s true). If you are a parent, you know this is true!
Two, my assistant knows exactly what I need to get the perfect shot and can reposition little ones in the perfect light, fix wardrobe, fix hair, and do anything else I ask her to very quickly because she does it every day and knows what I look for. Children have a very short attention span and young children and toddlers have a prime cooperation window of about 20 minutes. I need to be able to move through the shots very quickly.
Three, I want mom and dad to be able to relax, not stress. Mom and dad are more at ease (and therefore the children are also more at ease) when I have my assistant there to step in and help.
Give the Children Choices to Involve Them in the Session.
They will feel more important and invested if you allow them to make decisions. Try not to overwhelm them with tons of choices. Keep it simple. Allowing them to choose between three different props or toys that you could use in the session is a good start. When I want a child to hold a leaf or flower, I ask them which one they would like. Many of the actions I would like to incorporate in my photos to tell more stories can be turned into a choice. Make conversation with the little ones and be sure to remember their answers.
Do Not Ask Them to Join Your World, Join Theirs Instead
This is one of the most important things you can do when photographing children. Ask them what they enjoy doing and tailor the session specifically to them.
I hope this helps. Remember to keep it light and have fun!
Much love, Cass
Cassandra Jones is an internationally recognized, award-winning baby and child photographer based in Grande Prairie, Alberta.