Never work with children or animals is something you often hear banded around and although I’ve not had the pleasure of trying to photograph animals just yet – Children so far have worked out ok!! Since becoming a father you do tend to lose a few more of your marbles from your brain and go a bit more crazy than you have ever been – well I certainly speak myself anyway!
Making Kids smile has always come quite naturally to me, I even do tend to have children and kids gravitate to me for some reason – perhaps they know they are safe and on my level in my presence or I just look like a funny clown, who knows but my wife always says to me – “you do just have a knack with kids, they love you”
So putting kids into a studio setting with lots of strange lights and a man pointing a Nikon D800 camera at them – how easy does that work? Well in truth it can still be hit and miss as it’s a new environment and potentially scary environment but there’s a few things we can always do to comfort and reassure children.
1. Make sure Mummy and Daddy, although off camera, are in sight of the kids and talking to them – this gives the children a visual reassurance that mum and dad aren’t far away.
2. Get down on the floor with the kids and to their level, looming over them can be quite scary for children who have never met you, get low down, on the floor and smile lots, you’ll be far less forbidding with a smile on your face.
3. Have those toys ready, rattles, teddy bears, comfort blankets whatever it takes to make the situation seem normal for the kids will help them and district them from the new environment
4. Try and get your lighting setup before they arrive – I take a young child size bunny rabbit with me to test and meter the light with and try to get it all in place before the customer arrives at the studio
5. This may seem daft but show the kids some of the shots – I know my daughter loves to see herself on the back of the screen and you’ll be surprised how many other kids react to seeing themselves on your camera display!
Sometimes you’ll have no joy and all of the above won’t quite work or you just won’t get the reaction you are looking for – don’t forget this happens to the actual parents also where the child may just have a particularly bad day and there’s just no explanation why!
Have fun most of all – the rewards of a smiling child are priceless as we all know 🙂
Many thanks to Steve and Dawn Chilvers and their beautiful daughters for our recent studio session.