One of the many reasons that I've heard for not getting annual portraits taken of your family is that it's too hard to accomplish with young children. Well, it may seem that way, but it's actually not that hard- you just have to work with your kids instead of against them. Here are my tips for working with your kids and preparing them for family photos:
1.) I know I said this in Wednesday's post, but schedule the start time for about an hour after your kids wake up from their usual nap, and make sure they have a snack before the session. This way, they're not cranky or hungry.
2.) I know the nice, fancy clothes are pretty and make for awesome portraits, but be sure to bring a change of clothes for the kiddos- something that THEY'RE comfy in. We will start off in the fancy clothes, and then have them change and finish up in the fun cloths. When the kiddos are comfy, they're more likely to cooperate and genuinely smile in their portraits.
3.) Give them time to warm up to your photographer. Children are all taught 'STRANGER DANGER', which isn't a bad thing- except when you actually want them to interact with that stranger. Explain that although they don't really know your photographer, that s/he is a good person, and it's okay to interact with them. Then, give them a chance to warm up.
4.) Please understand that some kiddos just don't like their smiles- especially older kids. They hate it because of missing teeth, what they presume to be a 'crooked' smile, that dimple Mom finds adorable, or any other number of reasons- and that's okay! They don't have to smile to have a great portrait created of them!
5.) Come prepared with bribes. If all else fails, most kids respond to a bribe of a new toy, a favorite treat, or an opportunity to do something they love. You don't have to use them, but bribes do come in handy when needed.
6.) RELAX. If you're relaxed and enjoying the process, your kids will too. If you're stressed and anxious, your kids will be too.
Finally, please keep this in mind:
Ages 0-2: Don't have a clue about what's going on, and don't care. Easy to get photos of.
Ages 2-6: Semi-understand what's going on, scared of stranger. Won't cooperate with posing no matter what.
Ages 6-8: Understand what's up, will pose- especially for bribes, and like to have their picture taken.
Ages 8-10: Know what's up, don't like to pose even if bribery is attempted, and get bored easily.
Ages 10-14: Know what's up, don't want to be involved at all, will do the minimum to get this over and done with ASAP.
Ages 14-17: Know what's up, understand that if they don't want to look like a dork they need to be involved, will gladly pose, and will probably hate the outcome of every photo no matter what.