Part one: Without the Tears
Photographing our little one’s can be very hard work – they like to walk off set, they don’t want to look at the camera, and don’t even think about getting them to smile.
Initially, this is how I thought when I first started photographing Sienna. Hence the reason my feed fell into a deep sleep, after all a napping baby is a lot more cooperative than a loud mobile one, right? You’d be forgiven for thinking this, however in an effort to wake my feed up, I challenged myself to photograph her awake, and following some simple steps, it hasn’t been too challenging (well not all the time).
I’m always asked for tips on photographing children, both asleep and awake , so I’ve put together a few blog posts, so hopefully I’ll cover all areas. So whether you just want a beautiful keepsake for yourself, or you’re looking to improve your Instagram, there should be something for you. This first post covers top tips for taking the stress out of photographing your little one.
1. Snacks are a girls best friend
If you’re in the business of photographing your baby/toddler/threenager, you’ll know its snacks you need, not diamonds. I figure bribery is fine, as long as its healthy, right? This is how I get Sienna to stay in one place, by placing a pile of snacks (usually hidden from the camera’s view, by strategically placing them behind a book or teddy. Opt for small snacks like cereal or dried fruit. Top tip: If you want your child to hold a prop, just fill it with snacks (If you can).
2. Make it fun
No one wants to make their child feel like they’re working, so make the shoot fun. Sing songs, play music, play their favourite games – heads, shoulders, knees and toes, peek-a-boo or whatever entertains them. You’ll also find they’re a lot more relaxed when you’re ‘goofing’ around with them, which always makes for a good photo. This still doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a smile, especially if your child is like Sienna, who’s go to face is ‘blue steel’.
3. Make it short
Don’t expect your child to partake in an hour long photoshoot, even as an adult I’d find that far too long. Fifteen minute intervals max, you could set a timer on your phone to keep an eye on how long you’ve been shooting. But generally just reading your child’s temperment should give you an indication of when to stop.
4. Use props
You’ll find in almost all of my photos (of Sienna awake) she is holding a prop. It is my favourite hack for getting a good photo. As she becomes so intrigued by the prop that she doesn’t notice i’m snapping away. Use Instagram friendly props (sorry Sienna your pink plastic toys won’t cut it), cups, books, teddies, flowers etc.
5. Shoot away
If your camera has a continuous mode, use it every time. Most of your photos will be blurry, but its the best way to catch the perfect shot. However it will mean you’ll have a hard job sifting through all the photos, but you’ll be almost guaranteed one brilliant one.
My favourite moments are always captured in continuous mode, and they’re always surprising. We seem to miss to much with just our eyes, so scrolling through the photos afterwards is always fun.
6. Hire a mini assistant
My advice is to prep everything before they get on ‘set’. Once they arrive, ready to strut their stuff like Beyoncé, allow them to add some finishing touches, like placing the odd prop. I think allowing them to help create the set makes it more fun for them, again its all like a game to them.
6. Don’t stress
If you’ve tried all of the above and its not working, that’s fine. Have a break. Working with our little ones can be hard work, so go with the flow. Its a much nicer experience if you’re both having fun, as soon as it stops being fun for one of you, give up for a short while. Go have some playtime together or grab a cup of tea.
You may also like to read How to spark your child’s imagination.