“So let them be little, cause they’re only that way for a while.
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day.
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle.
Oh just let them be little.”
This is the third post in my series addressing your concerns about having a lifestyle or documentary session for your family. One of the big things I hear a lot is “What if my kids won’t cooperate?” or “My kids never sit still for photos” and even more often, “my husband hates being in photos.”
I totally get it. You may had a photo session at Walmart or Sears and getting your kids to sit still was, let’s just say difficult. Or it took you months to convince your husband to even book a session, and picking out perfect coordinating outfits was a whole other challenge. Or maybe you just struggle to take photos of your own family. I’m sure the kids run in the opposite direction whenever they see the camera come out. Hey, I’ve been there. It’s not fun and I’m sure you are worried about spending the money for something that might not even work out.
Well, not only have I been there but I have had lots of opportunities to deal with all of those things. Keep reading, and I’m going to explain how I do that and show you some photos from sessions that prove I can handle it all.
Dealing with uncooperative kids
Sometimes, especially with toddlers, they are out of their comfort zone. They don’t know me, they don’t understand what we are doing. Maybe they are hungry or tired or just plain cranky. Whatever the reason, it may take some time for them to get comfortable with what’s happening.
That’s perfectly ok by me.
When this happens I get down at their level, try to find something that interests them to talk about. If that doesn’t work I give them space. If we have to wait until they get comfortable and calm down, that’s ok. Mom or dad might have to step in to comfort or try snacks or whatever they need to be ok.
Throughout it all, I never put my camera down. I capture the emotion because it’s all part of the session and the child’s personality. Some of my favourite images are ones of mom or dad comforting their child.
My advice is don’t let it overwhelm you, don’t get discouraged or frustrated because that could make it worse. Just trust in the process, let me do my thing and let your child get through it on their own time.
Sessions with small children can sometimes get a bit crazy. For parents that can cause stress, but for me it’s all part of the fun.
Lifestyle sessions are meant to be real. You don’t have to worry about forcing your kids to sit still or pose or smile at the camera. So if they are all over the place, so be it. I will just chase them and capture who they are in that moment.
I don’t want you to expect me to be able to create those kinds of perfect posed shots amid the chaos. But I can give you real moments that show your child’s personality. Don’t worry about the mess and the craziness. Later, you’ll look at those photos and laugh. And hopefully be really happy that you have them.
When older kids don’t cooperate
Up until this point, we’ve been talking mainly about toddlers and small children who may not understand what’s happening at a photo session. But what about the kids who do understand and just don’t want to do it?
I’ve been lucky, I haven’t had many children who flat out don’t want to cooperate. Most often, it just takes a bit of time for them to warm up to the idea. Until then, I just give them space and let their parents interact with them. I’ll be sneaky and snap photos when they aren’t looking or wait until mom or dad gets them into a situation that they are more comfortable with. When I feel like they’re ready, I’ll strike up a conversation, asking what interests them. When I find something that gets them excited I’ll use that to get them talking and snap photos throughout it all.
Then I get them doing something. Depending on where we are, it could be throwing rocks in the water, exploring a trail, throwing leaves or snow, chasing their siblings. Anything that will get them having fun or that they like to do. Often, I ask them what they want to do and we go from there. If they feel like they are in control, they often start to relax.
Sometimes, they are fine throughout the session but near the end start to have enough of it. I won’t push it. I’ll give them their space and I know when to quit.
It’s all about their comfort level and finding ways to make them feel at ease.
When dads don’t like being in photos
It’s a fact, most men don’t like having their photo taken. I have no idea why that is, but it’s true. Sometimes dads can be more apprehensive than kids. I can honestly say that in most cases, the feedback I get after a session is that the husband/dad said it wasn’t as bad as they expected. And sometimes they say they even had fun!
You have to remember, lifestyle sessions are meant to be relaxed. I know how much they hate having to pose and smile at the camera. That’s why I don’t make them do that! I want real moments, and most of the time that means they don’t have to acknowledge that I’m even there.
If a dad doesn’t like getting in photos, I can guarantee they do like hanging out with their kids. Again, it’s all about getting everyone doing something together and having fun. Once I get them interacting, the rest is easy.
The hardest part about getting dads in photos is probably convincing them to book the session. I suggest showing them some of my sessions to see that they are relaxed and fun. Tell them that I promise I won’t make them pose. Even let them suggest a location or activity to do. In the end, it’s all about spending time together, connecting with each other and making memories.
I can’t promise that your kids will be perfect angels, or that your husband will suddenly love having his picture taken. But I can promise to create an experience for your whole family to be together. I can give your children permission to have fun and be themselves. Don’t miss out on having these memories documented just because you’re worried about how your kids will act. Kids will be themselves and that’s all we can really ask.