A few weeks ago I revealed a pretty big piece of my style as a photographer – I REVEALED HOW I START MY SESSIONS:
“I never like to assume that the people I’m photographing (even if they’re repeat clients!) are comfortable in front of the camera. As the photographer, I’m the director – it’s my job to make sure the client looks their best in front of my lens, and in their final prints. I don’t get as specific as talking about body types, but when I go over posing tips for women, men, and children at the beginning of the session I’m coming from a point of explaining that the subjects are 3D and my camera is going to capture them as 2D, so there are certain best-practices they can follow during the shoot to flatter themselves!”
A week later I posted part two of this series and focused on posing men. Today, I want to round out this series and focus on my style of posing kids. Ready!?
I blogged a while back about my approach in working with kids. Of course, this is my individual style, and yours might be different, but spending 95% of my life working with kids in some capacity – from babysitting to coaching, teaching to mentoring – this is my approach. I alwaysalwaysALWAYS start off a session by saying hello and giving them a compliment. I usually have a few minutes to chat as we’re walking to location or getting set up and I make a point to include the kiddos in these conversations and let them know I see them.
So when I say get on their level I mean this both literally (don’t forget to shoot them at their eye-level during your shoot) and figuratively. I run much of my session on a level that the kids can understand – I give simple instructions (hold hands, look at mom, etc.) and break it up with dancing, singing, and hugging.
I’m an adult and I have a hard time holding still and focusing on one thing for too long (makes me a great photographer and artist, though!) so I can only imagine what it’s like for kids. Candid photography is my thing – I adore the real emotion and connection you can get through NOT posing. So let them run around, play tag, splash in the water, and throw rocks to their hearts’ content. Just don’t stop photographing during this time.
With adults it’s a bit easier to back up and give verbal instructions on how to stand, lean, look, etc. With kids, they need a more personal interaction to get ‘set up’. I often drop my camera, come closer, and help position shots that I want to seem more posed than candid. I will help the child figure out where and how to position their limbs, hand placement, and even eye direction. I use touch more often when posing younger kids – guiding their hands to where they look best, tapping mom’s arm to show where to place their hand, pointing to where I want them to look with their eyes, etc. I take my camera away from my face more often when shooting kids, too, in order to keep the eye contact (or lens contact) and keep them focused on the shot for posed set ups.
If I were to only give you one piece of advice for posing and photographing kids it would be to simply let them be little. Don’t approach a shoot with littles with the expectation of achieving all the shots you envisioned. You can’t control (and often can’t change) the mood the kids will be in when they arrive. Being in front of the camera is hard for adults and being in front of the camera as a kid can be even harder as there isn’t the same level of understanding of what the end-goal is.
Learn to go with the flow, engage them, get on their level, and let them be. You can still get the shots, they just may not be as controlled as you were imagining. Follow them around, get to know them, and be flexible and your session will be a success.
Again, as part of my style preference for shooting folks, I prefer (as do my clients) candid, unposed, active, engaged shots that produce emotions both during the session and in the photograph. No session with kids goes without groups hugs, tackling parents, singing or dancing (or both!), and more. Who doesn’t love a little chicken dance time with mom and dad!?
No matter your age or your situation, photos should be fun. As a photographer, it’s my job to help take the pressure off, to make it an adventure, and to produce images that leave my clients in awe that I was even shooting when the moment was happening. It’s my job to deliver memories…. and this is how I do it.
casey and her camera is an Indianapolis Family Photographer specializing in family, couple, lifestyle, senior, and wedding photography for Indianapolis, Indiana and the surrounding areas.
Apr 20, 2015
Great post! You offered some valuable tips that I can’t wait to use myself. I can see from your tips and your samples that you are a a gem of a family photographer in Indianapolis.
Your posts are so helpful! Indianapolis is lucky to have you as a family photographer!!!! You truly put so much thought into a session from start to finish.
Casey, not only is your work phenemonal you offer so many great tips for both photographers and the families you capture. I wish I was closer to Indianapolis, you would be my family photographer!
What a great post!! As a mom and a photographer, this is awesome advice!
Perfect advice! And all sooo true!
Love your work. I love your tips because kids are hard to pose even when they are your own like mine.