Sometimes portrait photography has its difficult moments. Not everyone wants to be photographed and, at times like these, I have to dig deep in to my resources to get those terrific shots. Of course it’s child portrait photography I am referring to.
They didn’t book the session, they don’t really care if the resulting shots are a present for grandma. They’d rather be playing with their favourite toy. The parents are desperate for their children to behave which the children can sense (or maybe smell the fear?) and will often play up all the more.
I try to calm parents down rather than the children. Let the little ones burn off some steam if they want to. The shots will still be terrific, so long as it is the personality of that child coming through.
“how high can you jump?”
Sometimes they just won’t sit in front of the camera at all – which is harder and I use some serious psychology to persuade them (or, rather, I ask them to show off – “how high can you jump?”). Most children are more than happy to impress a little if gently pushed in the right direction. It’s all about engaging with them and finding some common ground (talk about a favourite toy or film).
Sometimes just sitting back and ignoring them for 10 minutes can be enough time for the children to calm down and decide they want some attention.
A lot of patience
Of course, if none of these things work then I always offer to reschedule the shoot at no extra cost. Sessions with children are best kept short and you have to make it fun and interesting. If they really don’t want to do the shoot, it’s better to plan another shoot than to keep pushing them and upsetting the children even more.
All these lovely little ones had their moments – not wanting to be photographed or wanting to play instead. A lot of patience, and a little child psychology, can work wonders with the majority of children – and for those it doesn’t work with? Well, if that’s their personality – surely that’s what we should be capturing anyway!