The words “children” and “stress-free” are rarely put in the same sentence together, unless you put the words “are not” in the middle. Cutting down on stress when it comes to kids also tends to stop other things from happening – such as enjoying the pursuits of child photography. However, you can help manage your stress levels by doing the things you enjoy. First, though, check out a few tips for stress-free child photography:
Tip One: Start out in reality
You’re not going to get perfectly posed, smiling and cooperative kids for a five-hour photo shoot with 15 costume changes. Don’t set yourself up to fail – everyone involved will find it frustrating. Instead, aim for small victories. Are your kids dressed? Can they pose once for the camera before you let them go? Are you able to get some “ninja” photos of them playing with a telephoto lens? Great! Now you’ve succeeded.
Tip Two: Set expectations
If your kids know what you want, before you want it, you can help to resolve any issues that might come up on the day of your photo shoot. Keep it casual, but let them know what you’re doing and what you’d like them to do too.
Tip Three: Make a plan
Spending time figuring out clothing and a setting or location can eat into your child’s “patient” time – leaving very little left for actual child photography. You need a plan; one that includes a location (or two or three to choose from, depending on weather), wardrobes, props, equipment, etc. Make sure you are ready before you hit “go time” so you can just jump right in and maximize your time.
Tip Four: Make it different, make it new
If you’re conducting a photo shoot at home, it can help if you make an effort to switch things up so your kids find it interesting. You can try converting a room (or backyard) into something new by draping blankets, hanging lights, or adding some new props. For outdoor photo sessions, bring some toys or plan a picnic to help keep them busy for a bit while you take photos.
Tip Five: Find the light
When you’re setting up, you want to keep an eye on where the light is and position your child (or children) so the light is on their faces or one-half of their face. Choose a smaller aperture and ensure that focus is on your child’s face – the rest will fall into place.
If you have to photograph your child in a situation where the light is behind them, use a reflector. This will provide you more even light and a better exposure.
Tip Six: Interact
Rather than setting up, giving instructions, and asking for a smile, try engaging your child instead. Ask them questions, tell a story (or have them tell one), sing a song, etc. If they don’t like having a camera pointed at them, you might try setting the camera up on a tripod and use a remote shutter. Here you might need a slightly larger aperture since you’re likely not going to be able to adjust your camera to focus perfectly.
Tip Seven: Keep it light and easy
The best way to not stress about child photography is to not put too much pressure on yourself or your child. Keep it easy, go with the flow, and if you sense that today’s not the best day for photography, let it go and try another day. Also, remember that it’s not all about portrait photography – you can take a ton of great photos of your child without them staring directly at the lens. In fact, lifestyle photography creates images that are like a window into your child’s life and create long-lasting memories.
Stress-free photography can be a breeze, just let go and embrace it! If you need some help, consider a one-on-one photography workshop so you can learn some new skills to take your kid’s photography to the next level.