Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Philosophy on Photographing Children

Photographing children is as much psychology and timing as it is a little luck. And, I am not just talking about child psychology either. Dealing with the parents can be just as challenging.

The final usable portrait of Tyler
I once heard a parent threaten their crying child by screeching "Do you want a spanking? If you do not sit there and smile, you will be in big trouble! Quit fidgeting and smile for the camera! Stop crying! You are going to get it when we get home".

You don't have to have a PhD to know that this is going to end poorly with either terrified looks, tears or even therapy many years later. Take a chill pill folks... Let kids be kids.

My approach with children is a bit more laid back. I play games with them. I ask them silly questions and make them forget that we are making their portrait. The thing that many adults forget is that children are creative creatures that may come up with a better pose or facial expression all by themselves without being told what to do every second. Sometimes, you just have to get rid of the "sillys" before you can take the portrait, as the photos below clearly show.

Tyler has a lot of personality. I have more silly photos than serious ones... 
I try to get the standard posed shots and then see what the kids do. You just might be surprised what wonderful characters they become. Creativity and personality should not be squashed by overbearing parental behavior. It's my opinion that sometimes the totally wild photos become our favorites many years later.

My own mother told me that her favorite photo of me as a child shows me crying because I did not like the surly Sears photographer who was trying every trick in the book to make me smile. The story only makes the photo better. Thanks Mom.

Full disclosure.... Tyler is my nephew and nobody was yelling at him except maybe his little sister, Sara. Here she is demonstrating the perfect smile. Oh man, I can't wait to embarrass them when they are teenagers.