Children are loving, enthusiastic, clever, and so many more things. If we want to capture them authentically, we have to give them a voice. When I enter a client’s home the first thing I do is introduce myself to their children and ask them if they want to show me around the house. The kids love taking me by the hand, showing me from room to room and bragging about all of their “stuff”. This makes the child feel like an important part of the process.
When doing a family session with a newborn I typically will photograph the baby with their siblings first. Including the siblings reassures them that they are still the apple of mom and dad’s eye.
This is a great time to add mom and dad to the photo as well. I like to encourage things like group hugs and snuggles. Tickling little ones is a sure way to break the ice and get some great giggles out of not just the kids but moms and dads too!
Now as a mom of 3 little ones I know that family photo time can be particularly stressful on the parents. Try your best not to project this emotion onto your children. They are super smart and can pick up on what you’re feeling. Talk to your children ahead of time and tell them about the shoot. Let them know where it’s going to take place and who is going to be there. This way they feel like they are part of the day and not just a subject. Next, sit back, relax and trust your photographer to take the lead. Children will often respond more positively to direction from an outsider rather than a parent. When all else fails use candy!
Most importantly let the children do all of the things that kids like to do. Some of my favorite images have come from the times when I just watched and waited for the child to pick a flower, wander, color, or grab a book and start reading.
When working with children it’s a good idea to setup an activity. Ask them to build something, turn on a sprinkler, cook, garden, go for a walk, even visit your local fire station…explore.
Lastly, take the good with the bad. During the session, they are going to have meltdowns. Maybe just try giving your little one a hug. As a photographer, I love capturing these moments. I am touched by the images of mom wiping a tear from her child’s eye, dad embracing his little one or a child being comforted by hugging their favorite stuffed animal. These moments are just as precious as the big smiles and are often overlooked. Capture real life. It will be way more rewarding than capturing the life we post on social media…but that’s a whole other topic!!
About the Author: Vanessa Guzzo, Vanessa Guzzo Photography
Vanessa Guzzo is a native New Yorker and lifestyle family and event photographer. Vanessa captures life’s ordinary and extraordinary moments organically today and turns them into works of art to be treasured for generations.
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