Wednesday, August 17, 2011

{Musings & insights...Genuine kid portraits?}

A big Hello to you!! Today, in an attempt to catalog, share, and grow...I thought I would begin a series of posts designed to bring helpful tips to others who love photography. I call it, "Musings and insights." Todays topic is... Genuine Kid Portraits.
Honestly, my first child Portrait session I was shaking in my Steve Madden flats. A bazzilion thoughts were streaming through my consciousness..."what should I say? Where should we sit? What poses should I use? How do I get them to smile? What if they cry?" and in a whirl wind the session was over and I realized...OMG! I loooved photographing kids! 
Over the course of my business I have picked up a few things that work well for me when wanting to capture genuine expressions, hopefully they help...I am not claiming to be an expert, these are just a few insights that hopefully help someone out there in the blogosphere:) we go!

It may take time to warm up:
 In preparation for their Session, I will email the parent to ask what their child likes, about their personality, what toys they love or colors, this way I can be prepared on all levels.  I first meet a child, they are often shy, but I get down to their level and say hello! I try not to let their shyness detour me from talking to them. I know this seems simple, but making the child feel important is a way to connect with them on a basic human level. 
I always treat them with a big smile and sometimes a treat or a toy ( if it's ok with the parents).  As we start the session we have more action shots, I will just let them run and play, then I will join in and show the child their pictures. This normally gets them excited about how great they look or what a fun time they are having and after a few minutes...whammo... they aren't worried about me, but about being in the moment. 

(Side note: not all photos have to be smiles...the mom of this cutie patootie... told me this was her daughters favorite face to make and that she loved how it showed her true personality.)

Be observant:
The little boy below was super shy. He kept hiding and did not want his photo taken, plus he wouldn't smile for anything. Except when I saw he was interested in climbing a stone wall, but his parents were busy. I asked if I could take him to the wall and he said yes. I jumped at the opportunity to find something he would smile for. This shot was taken as he happily walked across the stone wall while his parents were busy changing their daughter. I showed him this pic and from then on he was all smiles.  Sometimes, older kids get more natural when their parents aren't telling them what to do or to smile. It can be fun and a great bonding moment. 
Also, observing when to move to the next location or activity. Sometimes, we want to squeeze in the 5 locations, 3 outfit changes, and a gazzilion pre-planned shots that we forget to observe our clients and how they are reacting to it all.  If a child is super stoked on a leaf, he is smiling and laughing, then I want to interrupt that joy to get them to go climb a tree we pre selected. Um hold up wait a minute...let your client have fun! You can still get the tree shot, but be patient. This concept took me awhile because I was so eager to get all my shots in instead of capturing the moments in between. At the same token knowing when to move on is important too. 

Be ready: 
 I had to constantly remind myself don't put my camera down when I first started. This was a constant battle for me because when my client laughs I would laugh, when my client told a story I would put my camera down and listen. It is just a natural reaction, right!? But, gosh, I missed some great shots because I didn't want to be rude. Now I know I am not being rude and my camera is always ready. I still engage with the client, laughing at jokes, listening to stories and I do put my camera down slightly in different circumstances, but had to practice multi-tasking between listening to a story, laughing, and taking pictures. 

Be interested in what the child is interested in:

Don't get caught up in, "I have to get that pose or this shot mode." Part of truly capturing a genuine portrait is bringing genuine moments out in your client. So, if you are stressed and anxious that will rub off on your clients. My rule of thumb is if they like the cool rock in the field, then I like the cool rock in the field. 
I had a little girl who looooved to roar like a lion, so instead letting it hinder my shoot, we made a game out of it and we would roar together, then after she would giggle and laugh at me, which gave me the perfect opportunity to capture her true personality. 

It's ok to be silly:
Sometimes as photographers, we feel we need to be professional, dress a certain way, and maintain control, but with Kid Sessions all that goes out the window. We are there to bring out the best in our clients, no matter how old. I truly believe being silly is an advantage and brings peoples guards down even if they are 5. Plus, it is fun! 
Under 1 year  is where singing, showing them different toys, dancing silly, and making funny noises often brings a smile to their face. I also, find playing peek a boo with my camera can make a child look right at me and smile, which is awesome!
Over 2 years, giving them actions and playing games happens more often. 
Posing is not neccessary: 
In my opinion, when photographing kids, posing is not neccessary. Like I said this is my opinion. I enjoy candid, spontaneous images that bring out the child's true personality. So, instead of posing them I will give them an action, like we are playing a game of tag and I ask them to freeze or  play Simon Says and they don't even realize I am posing them. In the photo above the child was eating Mac n' cheese and having a great time, my husband went with it and I love this photo of her. The turquoise is just a plastic table cloth wrinkled on the grass and pink paper plates with mac n' cheese all over...way to work a scene Parker!

In none of these images did I ask the child to smile or do a certain pose. They did it on their own.  Taking pics of kids can be incredibly intimidating, but incredibly rewarding if you loosen up and have fun!
 I hope this helps and I wish you all the best with your Child Session adventures :)!
Happy Wednesday!

1 comment:

  1. I love photographing kids for all these reasons - they're so just have to meet them where they are!