Photographing children can be difficult and often takes more time that you would expect. Be sure that you ask Mum and Dad if they want any shots as it can take all day in some cases.
Here are 4 tips on how to get natural-looking smiles when photographing children.
Telling a child to “Say Cheese” often causes those awkward, forced faces that don’t truly capture who they are. You can’t expect a child to walk into a photoshoot ready to smile on demand for a stranger.
Instead, try just talking to them, find out what they like, what’s their favourite lesson at school, what food do they detest the most, what do they want to be when they’re older.
Create that bond between yourself and the child, that way you will appear less intimidating. Don’t ask the child to smile, this can lead to making them feel uncomfortable, which will show in your photos, try making them smile naturally, for those glowing, uplifting images that Mum and Dad will adore!
What do all children love? Screaming! Most kids aren’t allowed to scream, so make sure that your neighbours are out and encourage them to do this with you, they’ll love it and ease up instantly.
The best way to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere as quickly as possible is to let the child do everything they’re not allowed to. This means sticking their tongues out, pulling silly faces, making strange noises, or even getting a bit messy.
Try an alternative, the children will know that you want them to smile, instead, tell them to be as serious as possible. If you ask a child to try not to smile, they will eventually break out in laughter.
Make this into a game, tell them that they are not allowed, under any circumstances to smile – they’ll crack almost instantly.
It is often a good idea to involve children in the photoshoot. They will be in a brand new environment, where they may feel uncomfortable. Why not show them the shots too? Have your photos streaming to a computer nearby, or simply show them the back of the camera.
The more you keep them included the more relaxed they will feel. If your camera has a flip screen, you could turn it to face them, show them what you’re shooting as you are shooting.
To a small child, strange adults can appear more like giants. Get down onto the floor so that you’re shooting from their level. You can use this to your advantage, make up a game and encourage them to get involved.
This is bound to help them relax in your company. Much more importantly, your shots will be level with their height rather than appearing as if you’re looking down to them.
If the children you’re photographing aren’t too young, pass them your camera and let them take some pictures of you. It is probably best to stay pretty close to them – just in case! Be sure to pull your funniest face, this will bring out that lovely giggle, as well as make them feel relaxed around your equipment.
If you’re a photographing newborn, involve the siblings, let them see what you’re doing, ask them what they think about the shot.
Ever had a child who just wouldn’t let go of that favourite toy? There’s no reason to exclude it from the frame, what better way to show their true personality than to have keep it in the shot?
There’s no point in risking upsetting the child by taking it away, find ways to use it to keep them entertained and camera ready.
If all else fails, who doesn’t love a hilarious photo of an uncooperative child?
Warm up your singing voice, practice some practical jokes and leave the cheese at home next time you want to achieve those blushing candid shots of children.