I’m a boy mama so I live and breathe all things boy every day of my life! I also have learned over the past 5 years (gosh I can’t believe my little guy is 5 now) that there are certain little tricks and certain elements that you just need to embrace if you want to capture little boys in camera in their raw, natural element have them still be endearing, joyful and full of that boyhood magic! I don’t even want to waste time by mincing words here, I just want to get straight down to business because guess what: that how boys are right?!
You can’t just show up and take your time with boys! You have to be ready to go! So after all my years of working with children and families and after my 5 years of being a boy mom and having my own little stinker be my subject, here are 5 of my very best tips and little important things to remember to help you have the BEST TIME when little boys step on your scene:
- Embrace the Movement! Most boys are wild! Ok, that’s probably not true, I am sure there are many many boys that aren’t crazy like my little man is 100% percent of the time, but the truth of the matter is that all boys are usually in constant motion and like to be active. Embrace that movement and give them something to do! Task them, give them an activity or engage them in something requires them to put their body in a stop-go motion! This will immediately gain their attention and bring out their personality! My little man is often times best photographed during that crazy before witching hour time when he is HYPER! It’s his natural energy and it’s real, it’s raw and there are no forced poses or faces there! I’m capturing his true, uninhibited personality in those moments! These moments are when the best candid moments happen and I can let my guard down and forget about directing him. I can catch him in his best little boy silly moments when he is completely acting up and his own special magic is running wild!
- Crash and Burn! Talking about letting them go wild, most boys I know will run that energy hard and then crash and burn! This is why it’s always great to keep your camera out and at the ready! I keep my camera usually somewhere near my kitchen since that’s the hub of our house. This way when my little man has one of his rare, quiet moments I am already prepared to capture it. These moments can be where they are totally immersed in playing alone quietly or whether they just happen to fall asleep right where they are sitting! It’s totally up to you but here at my house, those are what we like to call winning moments! Sometimes, when I am out shooting a family with little boys, these rare moments might be sitting with a parent and snuggling or day dreaming off in a field! Any moment where there isn’t a ton of energy and movement is a moment where I want to make sure I snap a quick shot! Usually with boys, you have to be quite stealthy too because once they see you coming, oh boy that quiet moment is over!
- Talk the Talk (and usually it’s bathroom talk!): Whenever I’m shooting ANY child, I”m always having a conversation with them! I’m always asking them questions about their favorite TV shows, their favorite toys, what they love, what they don’t love, etc! With boys however, the conversation is a bit different! Boys I have learned over the years (sadly because I am a proper girl) LOVE bathroom talk! If you want a laugh or a natural smile, start talking about potty words and bam, I’m telling you it works every time. Beyond that, my wish is that you embrace all the different emotions and having a genuine conversation whether a child is 2 or 22 is a great way to capture those! Just make sure you are ready to click and that you have already established a good relationship and the camera isn’t an issue! Conversation happens when you have that relationship first!
- Play A Game! This has worked for me a million times over and when Linc was 1-2 years old, it was THE ONLY WAY, I was able to take any photos of him! Playing a game with them and it can be a simple game (like slap this spot on the wall faster than mommy, which is how I got Linc to pose for his clark kent shoot when he was 18 months old) to the games we play now which are more elaborate that he creates ( mommy you be the dragon and I will darth vadar ninja)! Being a part of their fantasy world allows you not only capture their magic and their personalities of play but also allows you to gain their trust so you can capture those beautiful candids, those personal portraits and their real, raw emotions!
- If you build it they will come! This last tip is something that I have been “coerced” into learn in the past few years and I say that with all of the love! I am all about the natural, candid moments but sometimes you just have to create the moments in order for them to fall into place, especially when your boys get a bit older or your little ones aren’t a fan of the camera. I’m talking about PLANNING! Sometimes I will see a moment happen and dang it, if I’m just not quick enough to catch it, or maybe it’s in the wrong lighting, or maybe I see it but I can quite convince my subject to finagle it in just the right way. This is where planning comes in handy and re-creation can really make “the magic happen!” I had a moment where Linc was on main street in Disney one day watching a parade and he was enthralled, but the lighting was harsh and we were rushed for time! I knew I couldn’t make it happen and it wouldn’t be the best image. The following evening I knew we would back and I knew it would be a much better parade. I grabbed Linc a giant lollipop, sat front and center on main street and let that magic happen! To date, it’s one of my most favorite images I have ever taken! Sometimes a little planning can go a long a way.
- Always be willing to get a little dirty! There is nothing more fun than getting dirty, wet or both! Whenever I go on a session I tell ALL of my clients, especially if they are boy mom’s to pack an extra change of clothes in the car (pajamas are the best!) I even pack a pair myself because I know that at one point or another in the session, we are all going to get a bit dirty and that is perfectly fine by me! There is nothing more that my son loves than to dig in the dirt, jump in puddles (the muddier the better) dig in the sand or run wild through the grass barefoot! If he can do all of that and more, he will have the time of his life! I can’t tell you how often I have to clean my gear because my poor camera see’s the dirt too! I am known for playing leaf monster, straw monster, swamp thing and more! If it’s raining outside… GREAT! Let’s go grab our rain jackets and rain boots and go jump in the puddles! Rainy days should be captured too! Boys will be boys and they love to get dirty. They love to go on adventure hunts and search out worms and bugs and all the creatures, so hand in hand thats where I go too! I always put on my hunter’s and go off on sessions ready to get down and dirty and usually it’s in those moments where you can grab the best candid action shots!
I love being a boy mom and I love that it has opened me up to not only a ton of adventures but an adventurous style of shooting photography! There are no boring days in our house thanks to my little man over here and you won’t find me just standing behind my camera anymore. Nope, shooting my little boy has left me rolling around, jumping, dodging and even underwater!
I hope that you can find at least one of these tips helpful when you are out there shooting your own boys! I hope that you find yourself shooting many of their adventures and that while you are shooting it opens you up to your own adventures in shooting just like it has done for me!
Great article! I shared it with my daughter in law who is a photographer and raising my two grandsons, who are 2 and 4. Missing you every Flow class I take!
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