I’ve talked with many people about how to work with children in photography, and I keep coming back to the same basic principles.
1. Remove the parent from the situation (unless the photographer and the parent are the same person). Parents desperately want the pictures of their kids to be perfect. I get it. Often, though, the immediate presence of a parent makes a child less likely to be themselves and to relax. The results will be horrible. Parents, make yourselves scarce and resist the urge to be involved.
2. If you let the child do some pictures that they want, they’ll do some that you want.
3. Know when the child has had enough. Actually, this is true for adults as well. Know when to stop. When children get bored, tired, or are just plain tired of the camera, the results start to lag and will only get worse.
Case-in-point: Patrick. It was right after school, and he really needed to be doing his homework, but the light coming through the dining room windows were perfect. I knew I could get away with maybe 5 minutes. So, what you see below is the progression of shots I took in that 5 minutes. Top row, from left to right: Pics 1 & 2, he did exactly what I wanted. Pic 3 was what he wanted. Row 2: Pic 1 – what I wanted. Pic 2: I told him he was cute. Pic 3: I made him laugh. Bottom Row: Right – We attempted to work with Grace, but she wasn’t having it. Left – the pic that will go in the permanent portfolio.
Ba-da-bing! 5 minutes! Then he did his homework & the light changed and was no longer useful in that particular part of the house.