YORK, Pennsylvania —
Kids portraits are perhaps the most fun, incredibly rewarding genre of photography out there. I know that may not be true for every photography, but for my money, there’s nothing better.
Between their innocence, their audacity, and their free-spirit attitude towards life, I love spending time with kids and documenting their joys and milestones.
Children, especially young children, don’t often conform to strict posing cues or stay in one place for a long period of time. To some photographers that may be the stuff of nightmares. For me, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about taking kids’ portraits over the last 14 years it is: let the little ones take the lead.
Yes, have your camera settings on the ready. Yes, position your subjects in an area which lends itself to a nice background and lighting. And yes, make sure they are mostly booger- and slobber-free for the camera. But don’t force them to be anything other than what they are.
If they like to roam around, let them roam. If they like to make silly faces, let them make silly faces. If they aren’t interested in smiling for the camera, don’t make them smile. If they want to be shy, LET THEM BE SHY! And if they want to eat grass, let them eat grass, especially when it enables you to capture gems like this:
I know it can be stressful for a parent who has paid a professional photographer hard-earned money for the “perfect” family portrait when Junior isn’t cooperating, but just know that stress begets stress. The more you worry, the more they worry and act up, and that comes through loud and clear in every portrait.
If you want relaxed smiles and genuine interaction for the camera, then you’ve got to be relaxed yourself. Let the perfectionist in you take a nap and let the professional photographer do their job. After all, why pay that professional hard-earned dollars if you can’t trust that they know what they’re doing?
And if there is nothing else you take away from this blog then take away this: GET IN THE PHOTO WITH YOUR KIDS, PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS!!!!!! I hate using multiple exclamation points to end any sentence, but I simply must hit this point home.
Grown-ups are so reluctant to get in front of the camera, and that’s such a shame for your kids as they grow up. Not seeing mom, or dad, or grandma in any of the pictures, as if they didn’t exist at all, just because of a little insecurity.
Once again, take your cue from the kids, parents and grandparents. Get in those family portraits again and again and again.
Trust me when I say, kids won’t pick apart your flaws when they look at their family portraits. Instead, they’ll see mom, the only person who can comfort them when they don’t feel well. Or they’ll see grandma, who made sure they had a crisp $5 bill in every holiday card.
Don’t do it for you. Do it for the generations that follow you. Do it for your kids.