We’ve been watching a lot of Peter Pan over here lately and one of my favorite phrases in the movie is when Peter is teaching Wendy and the boys how to fly. “All you need is Faith and Trust… oh and Pixie Dust!”
For anyone working as a children’s portrait photographer or a family photographer, this is exactly what you need!
Some people (like me) adore shooting children and families. I think it’s wonderful and magical and they are my absolute favorite sessions to shoot. It’s why I specialize in children and families! Other photographers are not so fond of them and I can understand why. It takes a certain finesse.. it takes Faith, Love and Pixie Dust!
There are so many factors that play in to having a session go smoothly; and trust me they don’t run smoothly every second of the session! You need to be flexible and willing to meet each member of the family where they are in that moment. Here are a few tips based on Peter Pan’s philosophy that I have found most helpful during my sessions!
1. You have to believe that the session will be wonderful! You have to know that young children are going to want to explore and do their own thing (this is where the best candids come in.)
2. You have to realize that melt downs might happen and it’s OK! Allow time for them and have faith that they will pass and you will help them create the environment you need again. You might have to be silly for them, or play for them until they feel like engaging themselves; but they will follow your lead!
3. Trust in yourself! You were chosen to be their photographer because they liked your style and they like you! Believe that you can create the images they are looking for! Believe that you can create an environment of fun! Don’t be afraid to be yourself! Don’t be afraid to act stilly or play! If I am working with younger children, I spend the first 10 to 15 minutes just playing with them first so they can get used to me and how silly I am!
1. Praise the family! Shower them and let them know when they are doing something that you like and be specific! “Oh I love how you are holding your mommy’s hand, you are such a sweet girl!” “You can make the BEST duck noises!”
2. Before my sessions even start, I put my parents at ease! I tell them that I don’t expect them to be perfect. I don’t expect the children to pose and to be on their best behavior. In fact I actually encourage them to play and act silly! I tell my parents I want them to act like this is just a normal outing! And I constantly reassure my parents that everyone is doing a beautiful job and I am specific!
3. Spend time with each member of the family, especially the smallest ones. I love to let them sit in my lap or play airplane or twirl around with them! I find the more interaction I have with each family member, the more comfortable they are in front of my camera!
4. Be kind! Allow for extra time and have as much patience as you can. If you are calm and full of love and patience, your clients will feel that!
1. Always come prepared!!! I keep extra snacks in my bags provided the parents don’t mind! Animal crackers, healthy gummies, fruit roll ups, etc. Snacks absolutely make a difference!
2. I always bring the tools I used to use in my bag of tricks I kept when I worked at the hospital. I keep bubbles, squishy balls, funny faces and glasses, mustaches, googles, capes and other items in my car and with me at all times! Sometimes you just need something silly to break things up! There is nothing better than a family full of mustache faces or everyone with googles on!
3. Don’t be afraid to get down in the dirt and PLAY! Children relate to you better if you aren’t afraid to be silly! I roll around in the dirt and leaves, I play hide and seek or chase. One time I was covered in pine straw and leaves that I pretended to be the leaf monster and ran around for 10 minutes growling and chasing my clients that I forgot I was wearing my camera! I have the best picture of the two of them hugging one another and laughing!
4. Tell a story or have the parents tell a story! Lay a blanket on the ground and have the children sit with the parents and have them tell a story about when they were little. Children love to hear about themselves and if you whisper they have to use all their attention to hear… it’s a great trick for getting those special close family moments on the blankets!
These are just a few tricks I use to help me when I’m out shooting! If you have any that work for you let me know, leave a comment below!
Until then… Faith, Love and Pixie Dust!
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