Family session is an exciting thing and, in our mind, has to become an amazing experience. We are so passionate about the photography and want to create a family story capturing true moments of love and happy times together. Often though, the reality is quite different from our expectations of how the photo session should go. You can prepare the family giving them tips on how to prepare, but….Kids - these sweetest and smiley angels –do not want to cooperate during a photo session making their parents upset, stressed, and tired.
No matter what is going on, you – the photographer – have to stay chill and peaceful.
Patience and understanding – is always a key for us.
Skids happen. And, sometimes, you just need to lean into it. Watch the parents of a child. Do they take a full control of the situation? Do they need help? If the answer for the last question is “yes”, then step in.
How can a photographer get involved and help to resolve the situation.
Here, I am happy to share some steps I follow when I photograph non-cooperative kids.
Be interested in them. Try to establish a connection. Go to their level
Ask them an age appropriate question. It can be a question about their favorite toy, movie, book, place, outfit, colors, etc. If the kid is small, you can sing a song/nursery rhymes or make a funny face. Talk to their parents in a friendly manner, so the kids can see that there is no danger coming from you. Don’t shove the camera in their face the very moment you meet them. Let them adjust to the surroundings.
With older kids, I try this trick: ask them to close their eyes and think about something they like. This will ease the stress and relax them. Then, on the count of three (choose any number with them), I ask them to open their eyes and look at me. That is the moment I capture.
Make it interesting to them
Some kids are energetic and very active. Some seem distracted by people or by what is going on around. In this case, I try to focus their attention on me.
I show them the back of my camera or ask them to pose their parents. Kids love to participate in the process and feel important. Also, ask them to show their favorite toys or trees/flowers. All of these will help them focus.
Make it a playtime
Coming for a photo shoot, I am always ready to run, explore, and play with kids. Move around, synchronize with them, and take some pictures in motion. They will be great!
Make a deal
Ask parents to bring appropriate snacks or a favorite toy/sticker/book for their kids. It can be used to get the smiles and good behavior during the session. I would caution you not to bring anything unless you have already spoken to the parents ahead of time and they have approved it. Parents can pass it to you right before the photo session.
Distract the crying kid. Be silly
If kids are wining, crying, and grumpy, you can distract them with some funny sounds, or with playing “coo-coo” game, or with a silly face/dance. Make them laugh. Once, when a 15-month-old baby had been crying, and all methods mentioned above did not help me, I pretended that I tripped over the rock and felt down. The baby started laughing, and it gave me a chance to take some amazing happy photos of him. Be creative and follow the moment.
Give them a small break
When a kid is not willing to cooperate and participate, give him/her a small break from the session. Focusing on the parents often helps to relieve some nerves and leads the child to walk into the frame to get a parent’s attention. When it happens, ask parents to go ahead and interact with the child.
Give them space
All of the above did not work, and a child is still upset, screaming hysterically, and uncooperative. Step back. Give them space. Remember, you are a photographer and not a parent of this child with whom he/she has a special close relationships. Let the parent hug him and walk together hand-in-hand away from you. Even staying at a distance, be a photographer. Use this opportunity to catch their intimate and touchy moments, the cuddles and love, as well as some panoramic photos with the family.
Embrace the moment
And the last thing, I also employ in my practice when the kid is emotionally out of control – taking the photography at the moment he stops to make a breath. If you take a photo during this second, the child would look peaceful with some kind of smile on the face. At the end, I will give photos that show different emotions of the child. For me, the perfect photos are the ones that show all your true feelings when pressing rewind button isn’t possible.
I hope, these tips will help you to smooth out the tantrums during the photo session and, thus give your clients the best experience. Remember, family experience during the session is what they’ll remember.
Make sure it is fun, and parents and kids enjoy themselves