I love, love, love working with kids. Maybe it is because I am a big kid at heart. I love the way they view the world. I love that they still see magic all around them.
However, as any parent will tell you toddler's have a very short attention span! I mean really short! I am sure you have noticed this when you have tried to photograph your own kids.
It is actually much easier to photograph other people's children, because they haven't figured you out yet! My own child has already sized me up and knows exactly how to game the system! I may be a little bit of a push over wanting to be a child myself still!
Here are some tips for getting better shots:
1. Have everything ready to go ahead of time. If you want a picture in front of the Christmas tree make sure you have you scene set as you want it and your camera settings where you want them before you call your kids in. For a posed shot like this you have one shot so make it count. I get about 10 minutes before the goofiness comes out!
2. Try for candid shots. Catching your children at play or asking them to do something fun like running, hopping, skipping, twirling, dancing just makes a game out of things. If you can make anything a game, you have a much better chance of getting the images you want. When the kids are happy everyone is happy especially mama!
3. Take the pressure off. Use fun words to set the stage. I always keep small tokens from the dollar store or a little candy on hand for both other people's kids and my own when I want some thing to happen rather than offering ultimatums. With my own child it works well, and with other people's children it takes so much pressure off the parents to have to control the session. They can just sit back and have fun! Also use lots of praise. When kids know you are happy with how they are doing they tend to live up to your expectations!
4. Timing is everything. Pick a time of day that is best for your toddler and leave some wiggle room for if things are not working out. If you can be flexible it is always best to meet them in their happy place!
Even with everything lined up with your own kids, you will probably get a lot of outtakes. I certainly do but then you get the ones you want!
Even for an award winning photograph you have to work up to it!