If you’re a family photographer, being able to engage with kids at a family session and coax them out of their shells to show their true personalities is one of the most important things to do during a family photo session. It takes a little bit of time but it has the greatest payoff when everyone is able to feel comfortable and enjoy the session. I’ve been a photographer for 5 years and I’ve worked with all kinds of personalities. These are my recommendations for family photographers.
1. Build a relationship with the kids
Ask them about their interests. Some of my go-to topics are books, tv shows, music, school subject, video games, holidays, and even dinosaurs. You get the picture. Listen to them talk about their interests and they’ll start to open up more in front of the camera.
2. Give space/breaks when they need it
When you’re photographing a family it’s full of gives and asks and it’s important to balance them in order to keep the energy going strong. For example, you’re asking kids to pose and smile and pay attention. In return, make sure to give them space and breaks when they’re needed.
3. Let kids push the button/be the photographer
Sometimes it helps the kids to understand what happening if they get a chance to “be the photographer” take a second to show them how it works and let them push the button and take a photo of their parents or siblings. Once they’ve taken a turn being the photographer, then they can take a turn being the person having their photo taken.
4. Ask what they want to do
Make a family session feel relatable by turning it into something the kids can understand from their everyday life. For example, one game that I play with them is – I’ll do your idea if you do my idea. So I will ask if there is a particular pose or silly face they want to do and snap some pictures and then I’ll ask them to do my pose.
5. Bring music
Nothing helps kids relax more than music. I’m telling you, it’s my secret weapon for all of my family sessions whether it’s a young family or a family with teenagers. I have a couple of playlists with classic songs that everyone will love and it makes for a really fun mood during the family session.
6. Play games
All of the games! I’m taking races, Follow the Leader, biggest laugh, piggyback jousting, upside down, paint mom’s face with your fingers, tell mom what you love about her, attack dad, jumping up and down, clapping games, exploring, peek a boo, etc. Making it a game takes the focus away from you and your camera and turns it back on the family members. It also gets you the most genuine smiles and reactions between family members.
A lot of the time if you turn your photography session into something that feels familiar and comfortable, it makes a big difference in having kids be comfortable. Taking turns, playing music, and sharing information about what they’re doing and why can really help kids open up and feel more comfortable. Remember when working with families, always ask before you touch. For example, can I help you or would you like a dad to help? This is another way to make sure that kids feel comfortable.
Always remember that the energy you bring to your session has a large influence on the energy that you receive. Some other helpful resources would be my 10 tips to help a nervous photographer or if you need to prep for a newborn session here are some items that I bring to all my newborn sessions that help with the newborn and older siblings.