As a portrait photographer, it has always been important to me to “keep it real.” I want portraits that I create to tell a story or reveal something of the nature of the subject, something that is real. For children, that means going into their world, letting them be real, even if it’s in my studio. I still want them to be their unique little selves. The key here is to have plenty of things around that a child would see and be interested in, such as toys or props that they can go to and play with. If outdoors at the park or their own home, usually there is enough in the natural environment that will get their interest.
The idea is to facilitate an environment that they will be curious about, and that will result in the opportunity to photograph them interacting and being and expressing themselves in a way that will show us those magical moments. The moments that are priceless to Mom, and/or Dad.
I’m always prepared to be interacting with a child in an entertaining way, more as a playmate than a photographer. If we want to get real expressions, we kind of need to get on their level and entertain them. That means either with plenty for them to play with, or by directly interacting and truly having fun with them. Here is one example of work that you should really have your heart into if you are going to be doing it.
But photographing children has always been a lot of fun for me. I have never considered it to be difficult, even when the child is NOT in the mood to be photographed. We have to be realistic in our expectations, as well as not try to force them to cooperate and smile. That just doesn’t work at all. Trying to force a session and bribe a child to smile is a very difficult approach to photographing children. It isn’t going to happen unless it’s real. Here’s a tip for the parents. Tell them NOT to be stressing the child out before the session by telling them to “,” or ” you better be good or else!” That just makes our job harder.