You guys ever run into this problem: You are getting ready for a family shoot, everyone is all dressed up, looking nice and there is the one little boy who doesn’t want his picture taken? I think it has happened to just about every photographer I have met, and there are a number of strategies you can employ to get them to co-operate. The hardest age to photograph is from about 2-4. Once they turn 4 or 5, they can be reasoned with or at least they understand enough about photography to realize whats going on. Babies and very young children can be a little difficult simply because their movements are unpredictable, but as long as they haven’t figured out how to run away you can keep them in the same general location and get lucky.

But the 2-4 year olds are the toughest IF and only IF you do not know how to work with them. I have decided to include a lesson on this specifically for the Advanced Photography DVD because there are many different strategies and what may work for one child will not work for another. In the case of Clark here, I simply told him he could stand there if he liked and took a family picture anyway. I then showed the image to all the family members and told them how good looking they were and what pretty smiles they had. He eventually figured it out all on his own. Another really great strategy for family pictures is to play Hide-And-Seek. Even most very young children understand this game. You make the parents the “base” and as the photographer you start counting. The kids go hide and when you are done counting to 20-25, you go look for them- but its important to build the tension, let them escape, but be right on their heels telling them you are gonna get them. The kids run to their parents, jump in their laps, you grab a few shots, and do it again if necessary.

The most important things you can do to get young children to cooperate are:

1. Do not ask them to hold a pose for more than 30-40 seconds. Take just a few images at a time, and then change it up.
2. Play games with them they like and understand. Their parents will know. Children tend to be much more natural when playing vs using a forced smile. They will also like you more if you play with them, and this makes it easier for them if they like you.
3. Show them their pictures and tell them how good they look.
4. Most important- neither you or their parents should try to force them. It creates tension and makes it harder.

These last 2 images are of their cousins a little earlier in the day and were taken while we were “playing” not while we were “taking pictures”. Children are almost always in a more relaxed, natural state when they are playing. There are several other little tools I use, I will show on the DVD, but the main thing is to have fun! If you do, you don’t even need to ask for them to smile. 🙂