Whether you are a professional photographer or a mama on a mission to create a legacy for your children; we all strive for one thing: We want to capture our children in the most raw and authentic way! We want our images to be a true reflection of their personalities so we can keep these moments forever! We want them to be 100 % real so that we can share these precious times with our children later on down the road!
One question I am asked all the time is HOW do you move beyond the posed portraits with the “cheese” smile and start connecting in a way that shows off these true emotions! I have found 6 easy “secrets” that help me not only connect with my own little one when I have the camera out; but also help me to connect with my very important little clients!
1. Play & Laughter:
Whenever I am working with children, I always make sure our time together is full of play, activities and laughter! It never fails that during a session (or whenever I want to shoot Linc) the camera becomes a source of objection! Not everyone wants to take a picture at the time you need them too! Usually when this happens (especially with Linc) I get that forced “ugh just take the picture already cheese smile”. He thinks he’s pleasing me but instead I get that forced grin that makes me cringe! So what do you do when this happens? You make them laugh, a great big open mouth laugh! Laughing will always produce the most wonderful images because that big wonderful belly laugh is absolutely infectious! It’s important to keep your camera ready though because those few moments right after the big belly laugh will produce those sweet moments of authenticity! Creating that big belly laugh for most children is as simple as dropping your guard and acting silly! Crazy animal noises, silly songs, references to anything that smells or has to do with the bathroom, and plain old peek a boo are some of my favorite ways to elicit that laugh out loud response! Don’t forget: keep on shooting after that big old laugh because that’s when we are always at our most relaxed!
I know I mentioned this above with the laughter trick, but making sure you have other things to do other than just sitting and staring at the camera is equally important for success! Play is the child’s work and if we truly pay attention to how children play, we can open up a whole new world of magic and wonder! Often the most authentic images I produce are when I am actively engaged in play with a child or when a little one is engrossed in something other than me! This takes a little time and patience because you become an observer rather than an active shooter and you need to wait for just the right moment! Action will almost always help anyone to feel more confident and secure and children are especially good at creating movement and magic! Some of the best captured moments are during twirling sessions, tickle monsters and waiting to pop bubbles!
3. Allow your child to “feel all the feels”:
So often we seek out those beautiful smiling images because they are full of joy; but we forget that our children are experiencing raw emotions all the time and those are also a reflection of their true selves! There’s nothing more beautiful to me than when you can let go of that “perfectly pretty” image and capture the other emotions and feelings! Linc often is very studious or intense when he is truly concentrating and focused. That’s something I always want to remember. I try to sit back and remember to grab my camera during those moments when his body expresses his emotions just so perfectly! This requires some inactive participation and an understanding that the camera should always be near by! This also allows you to accept imperfection: real is better than perfect! Our children don’t react to things the way they think they should or where they should, they just feel! Your house might not be perfect, there might be popsicle all over their face or heck boogers in their nose BUT aren’t these truly the moments you will want to remember when your children are adults?! We might not have had a shower and our hair might be completely out of control but they choose to snuggle with us right then and want us in the picture! Embracing that beautiful mess of imperfection will give you a freedom that will create an authentic legacy and picture of your lives!
4. Shooting positions:
You can break the rules when you shoot children, or at least I do! There are so many ways in which you can capture childhood and using different shooting positions and lenses is a great way to capture their special quirks or “magic”! I love to break out my 35 mm lens because it just perfectly captures the way their bodies are growing! Getting down on a child’s level and seeing things right at their point of view is also a fun way to capture how they see the world! I always find that when I’m squatting down or laying on my belly, the camera becomes less intimidating for little ones.
5. Allow them the freedom to GET MESSY!
Sometimes just the hint of being able to do something that is usually unexpected or not in the norm will bring out a special kind of shine! Children love to explore their world and allowing them to do something that aren’t usually allowed to do all the time (like get messy) will bring about a whole new side to their personality! You can capture hints of sassiness or a little mischievous grin that will make your heart sing!
6. Using the Light:
Ok, I’m not going to lie this was something that actually took me a while to learn (and I”m still learning!) Light can produce the most beautiful images and the way that you use the light can truly tell a story! Most often, bright light conveys a sense of joy and happiness, while dramatic lighting and shadows can help produce a soft intensity! I love bright and happy images that are filled with sunlight, but sometimes when we are at home by ourselves, I can really reveal Linc’s sweet side by using dramatic lighting! Finding light is easy if you remember to look for it and put it first! This takes a bit of pre-planning and also some good old trial and error! Just remember: nothing is “wrong” when you are shooting children! They move so fast and their emotions come and go so as long as you are capturing the moment, you have found success!
Thanks ya’ll for stopping by today!!
Keep up to date with our crazy life as a family of three on instagram (@kbrooketucker): living a magical life in Disney and trying to keep up with a crazy wild little boy while capturing real over perfect moments in motherhood!