We had planned a fun outdoor spring shoot for these three, but of course, the weather didn't cooperate, so we decided to do an indoor studio shoot in their home. They still turned out adorable!
I photographed this little doll as as a newborn last year, but she and her family have since moved out of state. I was excited to hear that they were going to be in town for her first birthday and wanted to get her 1 year photos taken while they were here! Isn't she adorable?
My girls' grandmother bought them all cowgirl outfits for Christmas and wanted photos of them. I have also been meaning to get Kayla out to take her 5 year photos, which I am way behind on. So, a few weeks ago, we took the girls out to Fossil Creek Reservoir Open Space for a session. Here is proof you can get cute photos of kids outside in Colorado during the winter!
Getting small children to cooperate for family photos can feel like a daunting task. Many families and photographers have experienced the frustration of a little one who just isn't excited about the prospect of having photos taken. The approach you take to getting them to cooperate can make all the difference between so-so photos and personal portraits you'll cherish. Here are a few tips I have learned to help children feel relaxed and comfortable during a photo session.
1. Have a vision. Avoid walking into a session with little forethought around the final images you are hoping for. Take time to look at a variety of images from different photographers before you book your session. Figure out what types of images speak to you. Do you like studio images or outdoor shots? Soft and hazy? Crisp and bright? Whimsical? Serious? Do you prefer images with eye contact or without? I could go on and on. You don’t need to know every detail of the images you want, in fact you should be willing to be flexible, but know what general style or feel you are going for.
2. Find the right photographer for you. Don’t assume that the chain studio in town is the right studio for you and your family. These studios are high volume and tend to produce very similar photos for each family that walks in the door. If those images match your vision (see #1), then by all means, schedule with them, but if they don’t, find a local custom photographer that does. When my oldest two were babies, we took them to a chain studio several times a year. I remember one particular photo of my oldest looking into a very large fake flower. I thought it was a great photo at the time and to be honest, it wasn’t bad by any means, but I have since seen countless very similar photos of friends’ kids on their walls. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the more I saw them, the less special that photo seemed. There isn’t really anything about it that speaks to who my daughter was at that age, it was just a cute photo of her. I have since become a photographer myself and have been lucky enough to take all the photos of my youngest since she was born and my older two since they were 3 and 4.5 myself. This recent photo of my middle daughter is such a good representation of her at this age. We would have never gotten this at that chain studio we used to go to!
Before booking with anyone, take some time to research some local custom photographers as well as the chain studios in the area, take a look at their work and decide which one is most in line with your vision. Many photographers do one style really well, some may even do a few very well, but none do everything well. Don’t choose a photographer whose portfolio contains no or very few images that match your vision and then expect him or her to produce it. Instead, find a photographer who has several images that match your vision in his or her portfolio. You should be able to point to images in the photographer’s portfolio to show what you are looking for.
3. Give your child/children some say. This may mean letting them choose their outfit (or choose from a selection of outfits that fit your chosen color scheme) or having them bring a favorite item to be photographed with. Not only will this help them feel some control in the process, you may end up capturing something special about this stage of their life you may treasure forever. Even if you don’t, they will be more cooperative and happy throughout the session if they feel they have had some input. This is my 6 year old. She picked the outfit, every bit of it, from the headband to the shoes. I know I am lucky that she did an awesome job, but more importantly, she was so excited to show off her birthday outfit and it showed in the photos. She even did her own posing (see #4).
4. Let them be themselves. Kids have their own little personalities and most aren’t afraid to show them off, so let them! I often encourage my girls to pick a few poses themselves and have gotten some of my best shots this way. They just seem more happy and comfortable when they are showing off their own personality rather than posing for me. During a shoot last year with my two oldest girls in their ballet costumes, I let them each choose their pose for a few shots. Those turned out to be my favorite shots of each of them. Not only did they do a decent job, but their expressions are so much more natural than when they were feeling forced into a pose by me…
I then let them pose themselves for the shot of them together. When they did this, my first instinct was to move them into a pose that was more ballet and less hip hop, but I refrained and shot them anyway. I think this may be my favorite photo of the two of them ever. It’s just so THEM.
5. Relax! Not only will it be harder for you to look relaxed and happy in the photos if you are stressed out, your children can feel your stress. The more you worry about getting the perfect shot, the less likely you will be to get it. My 4 year old is a great example of this. I am always complaining that she hates the camera and won’t look at me when I have it in my hand, which has been true on many occasions. However, I think it may be my fault. Maybe it wasn’t at first, but because of her history with the camera, I tense up as soon as it is her turn to take photos…and so does she, even when she was just begging me to take photos of her. Recently, I have stopped worrying so much and just let whatever happens happen. Guess what? She isn’t so camera shy after all! Take this photo for instance; in a group shot like this, I could almost never get her to look at me, let alone smile. This time, I decided not to stress about getting her to cooperate and look what I got (she is on the left)...eye contact and a smile!
Stand back, let go and let your photographer and child/children find their groove. Enjoy yourself, have fun with your family. The images will be much more meaningful when everyone in them is happy and enjoying themselves!
I took my three daughters and nephew to a new studio space I am planning on using for studio sessions to try out the new background for my upcoming holiday mini sessions. The kids wore themselves out running around while I set up and then were not in the mood for photos, so I only got a few. Oh well, at least they can give you an idea of what the background will look like!
When they found out we would be going to California for the holidays, the girls were so excited about seeing their cousins. Of course, Mommy was excited about getting to take pictures of all of them together! Of course, the entire week prior to the shoot, it was sunny and 70 degrees. The day we had planned for the shoot was foggy and cool. Thankfully we still got some good shots in before the kids were over it. It took me a while to edit them, but here are a few if my favorites!
The four big kids: My two oldest on the left and my niece and nephew on the right
All 6 cousins. The two babies are my youngest on the right and my nephew on the left. Can you believe there is an 8 month difference, with her being the older of the two??
My adorable niece and nephew, each within a few months of my oldest two...
And, the baby of the family, 6 months old. Don't you just want to squeeze him?
Can't wait until they all move to Colorado to I can take pictures of them whenever I want to!