Not a day goes by that I don't hear something profound from the mouths of babes. Photographing children for as long as I have, has given me a good bit of expertise. But I still learn something new everyday. My tiny subjects add laughter and joy to my life - not to mention a big portion of my income.
My last article was about observing your subject to capture the personality that you see before you - the mood that you see upon his arrival. (See my blog titled Photographing Children - Go With the Flow.
) This time I would like for you to imagine the photo session from the child's point of view.
the thoughts of a small child on picture day
"Mommy is very nervous today. She has fixed my hair three times! First she pinned it up. Then she combed it down. Now it is up again. Something really important must be happening today. My best outfit has been cleaned and pressed. The buttons are buttoned and my sash is tied. Mommy said that I mustn't get my dress dirty"
"Mommy has packed our car with some of my favorite toys and more outfits 'Just in case' she said. Just in case of what? What could she mean by that? What horror awaits me at this place called The Photography Studio?"
"I think I heard Daddy say that the photographer is going to shoot me." (long pause) "I'm sure I must have misunderstood. Maybe he means with a needle like at the doctor's office! That will hurt!"
"It's my turn now. Uh-oh! I knew it! Look at those bright lights and scary equipment. The photographer person is all in white just like the doctor! Here comes the shot!"
A young child is almost always suspicious and anxious about new experiences. Even an infant can sense tension from his parents. So it is your job as the photographer to keep a cool head. Make the photography session a positive experience. A soothing and patient demeanor is your best approach. After you get those great first expressions, get down on the child's level. Yes, I do mean mentally and physically. Let her know that you are not a threat - just a silly person that wants to play!
Oh yes, a few more suggestions - you had better watch your terminology. There is no shooting in children's photography. And make sure you don't wear your white linen suit on picture day!