Photo sessions and children are unpredictable (to say the least) and I'm the type of person that loves being prepared. Not counting on things going my way means I can produce a good result for my clients every single time. It means I'm not frustrated when kids would rather run around like crazy instead of sitting nicely on their parents' laps. And I keep my cool in any situation. So what 5 things do I NOT rely on going into a family session? Read on!
I don’t need good behavior from your children
If kids want to sit for a photo, they will, but asking/begging/pleading/bribing them will always back-fire. So I don't even bother. In fact, I always tell parents to let their kids behave as badly as they like. Mischief and playfulness will get us better images than a grumpy toddler struggling to get away from a well-intentioned parent. So I set up scenes. I work with the parents and we make it a game. We focus on the family doing things together and move so quickly that kids don't have time to get bored. And if something doesn't work, we move on. The truth is, I don't need kids to be obedient because I follow their lead, and it's amazing how much easier things are as a result.
I don’t need you to feel comfortable in front of the camera
I, myself, hate being in front of the camera. I get self-conscious and become convinced that I look awful whenever someone takes my picture... so why would I expect anything different from my clients? I don't. Going into each session, I assume that the people I'll be photographing hate the process as much as I do. A lot of the time, they don't.. but I still work really hard to put everyone at ease. The same goes for little kids. If they're unsure of this whole photoshoot thing, I put down my camera until everyone gets a bit more used to the idea. I make sure parents focus on playing with their children instead of worrying about the photographer, and somehow everyone survives the ordeal in the end.
I don’t need you to know how to pose for photos
Looking good in pictures is something we can all influence with knowing how to pose well. There are angles that make us look slimmer, micro-expressions that affect our face in a split second, and all sorts of tricks one can use to look amazing in pictures. The problem is, it takes a lot of time and practice to master this skill.. and I'm pretty sure nobody is standing there in front of the mirror practicing their looks every day (unless you're a model and it's your job). As a photographer, I spent countless hours learning about posing. Why? Because my clients shouldn't have to. It's MY job to make them look good.
I don’t need to have good light
A lot of my clients are a little surprised when I pull out my Speedlight and attach the flash unit to my camera. Yes, I use on-camera Flash for almost all of my indoor photos. "Natural light" photography is hugely popular right now and it's easy to assume that it's what everyone does. Personally, I like having the clean, editorial look for my indoor photos, and my flash helps tremendously with creating flattering lighting anywhere I need it. The trick, of course, is making sure the resulting images do look natural and pretty and not like a harsh beam of light hit the subjects in the face.. so if you can't tell that a flash was used in my images, then I did my job right.
I don’t need your kids to like me
Ok, the thing is, most kids really do love my company. I have yet to meet a little child that wanted nothing to do with me. But hey, anything can happen right? But because my sessions are structured around the family, the kids don't actually need to interact with me all that much. They play with their parents (who they already know and like), so who cares what they think of the person taking their photo? Those times that I do end up one-on-one with a child, my calm personality usually puts them at ease. I always welcome parents to stay close too, which helps some children feel safe and relaxed. Most of all, raising two boys taught me how to be gentle and patient with children... and how to give them space when they need it. :)
And there you have it! 5 things that you'd think a photographer would need to get good images but I can totally manage without.