Nearly every parent has been in the situation; they take their children to the portrait studio with the idea that it will be quick and painless and hey, the studio said it only takes fifteen minutes, right?! Wrong. Maybe your child is a photographer's dream and she'll run home telling all of her friends of your amazing child who posed exactly how she wanted the whole time, but that's just not realistic. In fact, even your photographer knows that's not realistic and they don't expect it.
One of the photographers from Picture People has some advice for us parents that think of photo sessions as a waking nightmare. With many years experience photographing children, she also freelances and covers weddings, corporate parties, and secondary school sessions too, although the little ones are her favorite. It's definitely not because they're the easiest but because she enjoys them as they're the most rewarding for the family receiving them.
1. Plan for the best, but expect the worst. A good motto when it comes to photography is "low expectations, high hopes." You see, if you go into a session expecting your little one to be the perfect angel, it just won't happen. In fact, it's like the kids sense your expectations and do the exact opposite out of spite.
2. Don't be afraid to turn over the reins. It's difficult to let someone else direct your children, especially when you're standing right there. The fact of the matter is, you came to your photographer because they are a professional. Just let them do their job. Generally speaking, most parents are just trying to help, but shouting "sit still," or "smile right" isn't going to help at all, and may be more harmful. Your photographer works with children because children respond well to them so let them use their bag of tricks to get the look their after.
3. Sometimes you just have to step away. Some children have detachment issues. You may experience it regularly when you drop them off at daycare. Recognise the fact that your child is tugging at your leg as a cue for you to step out of the room. Often, we are our children's security blankets in unfamiliar situations, but if we step away they will act completely differently and you will probably end up with a million smiles you never thought were even possible.
4. They don't have to smile in every shot. The image where they're being shy and looking at their fingers, or running off towards the ducks in the park, momentarily turning into the hulk, or even crying on a stool may end up to be your favorite pictures as they grow older. It's who they are and what they're into so just let them be themselves. Most photographers aren't trying to capture canned smiles in every picture so let them do their best to capture your little one's personality.
5. Get into a few pictures yourself. We're so caught up in taking pictures of our children so we have the memories, that we forget that these memories are for our children too. They're not going to remember what we looked like when they were first born or even three, so don't hesitate to take a few pictures with your children. The fact is, your child thinks you're the most beautiful mummy or daddy in the world and they're not going to notice the baby weight (or sympathy weight) that you haven't been able to drop yet. All they will care about is you holding them in your arms and how happy the whole family is in your pictures.