» Utah Photographer – Working with Children
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Utah Photographer – Working with Children

Utah Photographer – Working with Children

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One thing Utah is known for is lots of children. As a Utah photographer, working to get a priceless image of a child can be very rewarding. When a child is uncooperative, it can bring frustration. Some of the most rewarding moments are when you have awkward, hyper, cranky or otherwise difficult children and you end up with a precious image that amazes the parents of the children. I am often asked how to get a good image of a challenging child (or group of children). Here are a dozen thoughts to keep in mind for the photographer working with kids, especially challenging toddlers:

 

  1. Help the child feel comfortable.Utah has such a wide range of temperatures from 100+ temperatures in the summer to below freezing winters. Keep temperatures appropriate. Cool in the summer. Warm in the winter, even warmer when working with infants.
  2. Avoid telling the child no. Giving the children freedom to roam around, touch things in the studio, climb on chairs or hold their toy, keeps them in a good mood and prolongs the window of opportunity. Parents often get nervous when their toddler is curious and less than cooperative. Help the parents know you are comfortable with children who are less than ideal.
  3. Remember there are a wide range of emotions and a smile is just one. Although most parents want the traditional smile and say “cheese” portrait, often it is the candid image that best captures the child’s personality or that connects with those viewing the portrait.
  4. Bribe them with candy or other appropriate snacks that the parents approve of. Talk to the Mom before to make sure she is ok with candy. Have other snacks for those who don’t allow sugar. Don’t give them the candy until they are done with the shot. At times you may use a small candy to create a focus point by placing it in a location you want all of the children to look, like in a book, flower pot, or on the camera.
  5. Get down on the kids level. Kneel, and be eye to eye with them.
  6. Use stickers. I often place the sticker on the lens hood, out of the way of the lens, this gets the kids looking where you want them. Try to only give them the sticker once they have finished their session.
  7. Do your best to keep parents out of the way. Parents in Utah want to help. They will stand to the side and call their child’s name out, yelling to them to “smile”. This usually only makes the child look toward the parent. If the parent insists on helping, ask them to be directly behind the camera. Sometimes it is good to have the parent leave the line of site of the child altogether.
  8. Engage with the child. Tell stories, and use silliness appropriately. Ask them questions. Many photographers think they need to have dozens of gimmicks to get the child to smile. Often, if you can connect with the child, your own eye contact and smile work better than the most creative gimmicks.
  9. When photographing groups of children, get the older ones set first, bring in the restless movers and the infants last.
  10. Don’t push it. If you got the shot-move on. With digital cameras these days, people often overshoot because it is so easy to just delete the image. There is usually only a limited window of time that the child will focus. Usually this is 2 minutes on the short side and 20 minutes at the most. Know when to say when.
  11. Focus on the eyes. If the child squints when you make them smile then get their attention and shoot the shot either right before or right after the smile’s peak. This usually allows the eyes to open up more. Portraits with peaceful smiles (or no smiles at all) often have the most engaging eyes.
  12. Remember: Patience, Patience, Patience
© 2016 KEVIN LUNT PHOTOGRAPHY Up