I have a feeling that when people think of Studio photography, they think that kids need to sit still and be perfectly behaved in order for us to capture any images worth keeping. Well, I am here to tell you that when kids run around, don't listen, and generally act a little crazypants, we get some of the best photographs. It's true. And it's also 100% accurate to say that expecting kids to sit still at this very young age is both unrealistic and a little crazy to begin with, which is why I certainly don't do it.
So in my Studio, kids are allowed to run around. They can be silly. And they don't have to listen. The only thing I insist on is that everyone is safe (having my lovely assistant around helps with that as well). And that's kind of how I parent as well.
I have two very strong-willed and independent boys (they are currently almost 7 and 3). I have no interest in having a power struggle with them every time they want to do something. I encourage them to explore the world on their own terms and learn from their mistakes. And I realized very early on that their will is always stronger than mine. Now, that doesn't mean I let them do whatever they want, but it does mean that I try to look at everything from their point of view. A straw that's a specific color might seem like a frivolous request from a parental stand point, but from a child's point of view it's a world of a difference.
And it's the same during a photoshoot. If a child wants to wear a specific outfit that isn't necessarily what I selected for her to wear, I let her make that decision. Because for her, that is the most important thing right now. It's not about me asserting my dominance or being the person in charge. It's about working together to create an environment of mutual respect and trust. Most of all, I want kids to feel happy. To feel safe. To be able to be themselves, even if it drives the parents a little nuts, because that will honestly give us the best photos in the end.
So if you have a child that never sits in one spot, doesn't listen, and doesn't look at the camera and smile on command.. bring him to me! Tell your little girl that she can wear what she wants and can dance around if that's how she's feeling. Let your spouse know that no matter what, we will get beautiful family photographs in the end, even if it seems like utter chaos during the process. And most of all, cut yourself some slack. Parenting is really hard! Like, seriously the hardest thing I've had to do in my life.. and because of that, I understand.