Teach it Tuesday - Advice on photographing kids.

As you probably know a very small portion of my operation is dedicated to child photography, less than 15%. So you are probably thinking, what does ROB know about photographing children?! Well, let me try and explain.

I get more comments about my personal photography, photos of me and my kids , than everything else combined. One reason is because there is a lot of it. Nearly every day I have my kids posing for some concept or idea. They are my default models for new lenses, flashes, cameras, you name it. With that comes a ton of experience from working with miniature humans who often don't want to do what I say. Now I am sure you are thinking, but you are their father! Ya. True. But once I use the "daddy voice" I have a zero percent chance of getting a real smile. That leads us to our first tip. 

Be patient. Simple as that. Kids work on their own schedule (a lot like adults). In the long run, nothing works better than plain old simple patience. Sometimes, I just pretend like I can wait forever. I don't beg, I don't bribe, I wait... and when waiting doesn't work, I distract.

Be flexible. I can't stress this enough. I often have these very complex plans with diagrams detailing poses and where this light over here should go and the model facing this way... the truth is, your kid is beautiful. We can shoot them 100 different ways and it will be awesome. Don't get hung up on that one idea that is making them (and you) miserable, be open to the reality that there many ways to make these photos awesome.

Be sweet.  I have learned this time and time again. When I am stern with my kids during photo shoots, they may do what I want, but their heart isn't in it. You have to be sweet. "hey, would you do this for me? no, well, what about that? no? well, will you stand there on one foot?" Every single kid has a smile in them, figuring out how to unlock it is fun.

Don't try and over think it. Sometimes, asking them to do what they are already doing is a good start. "Hey, will you just stand their looking away from me? perfect, that is great. great!" "ok, now, can you SNARL at me?". I love this approach. Parents are like "What the what?!", I don't want pictures of Suzy snarling! You have to trust me people. I am not just capturing the snarl, but the transition and the expression as she tries to figure out what snarl means. I might not be able to get Suzy to do exactly what I want (and to be honest, that is ok) but let me work on breaking through that shell and exposing the beautiful individual hiding inside. That is what I want to capture.

Give mommy something to do. No need to elaborate on the why here. Kids need one source of direction, even when they look to mommy for support, you have to be the guide. 

Make it count. On average, you have about 5 good minutes with kids. You need to have your lights set, your camera dialed in and your approach nailed down. You will only have 1 chance to grab it, so be ready.

To me, it less about gear and more about capturing who they actually are. Sometimes, they give us great cheesy smiles and other times, they give us fits... we have to capture it all and make it look awesome.

So, using my own advice, here are a few of my favorite shots of my podlings over the last year.  

[edited on 8.13 @ 5:00pm to fix a few typos]