Now that we've explored how to best photograph newborns and photographing toddlers, let's move onto key tips for photographing children. I love photographing siblings. I enjoy the way they all play off of each other, and when everyone is in a good mood you can often end up with amazing natural, candid portraits. Of course, if they are in a bad mood-- watch out, because they outnumber you!
Here are a few tips to keep young kids entertained while you take beautiful photos.
1. Use bribes.
Most parents already know to bring things for their kids as rewards, but it's always good to remind them. Don't ever bring your own food rewards since you don't know what a child can or can't have, due to allergies or rules- which can be different for every family. Don't be afraid to tell the parents that rewards help. They will make all of your lives a little easier when siblings have to sit a little too close together or start getting ancy.
2. Let them be themselves.
The days of standard posed portraits, with a fake woods or laser background and everyone standing very static, smiling, are basically over. These days a lot of families want more natural photos that capture the personalities of their children. When you see a funny moment, take a photo. No one was expecting it, but it may turn out to be a fun memory the family wants. You just never know, digital photography has made it so easy to take as many photos as you want with no extra cost. It always lightens the mood to ask them to be very serious. When you tell them "OK you can stop", the kids usually burst out laughing, which makes for great photos. Even when photographing adult siblings, you can usually get something that captures their personalities and they ways they all interact with each other by asking them to do silly things.
3. Have fun props.
At one photo shoot with three young kids, we had a bunch of plastic balls and at the end of the shoot we just let them play with them and took photos. It's important to remember if you are going to introduce something like that to have permission from the parents and do it at the end. When you get kids really excited it's hard to calm them down again. Fun photography props are my way of rewarding my clients for doing a great job during the "boring" part. I had one sister duo show me their swing set, so at the end of the shoot we played and took photos on that. When the siblings are playing well together it makes the shoot go by much faster and smoother. It also keeps the parents happy when they receive smiling photos of their big family.
4. Photoshop is your friend.
No matter how much fun you try to make your photo shoot, sometimes it's impossible to get every child looking happy or even normal in one photo. This is why you edit afterwards. If you think there is going to be a lot of editing time, make sure to adjust your pricing. Usually, I include two hours of editing time for one hour of shooting. If you think it is going to take longer than that, adjust your price a little higher. In the photo below I took two heads from different photos and used Photoshop to make it all look like one photo. This took a lot of time, I should have charged more. Now I always ask how many children and their ages before quoting a price for a family photo shoot. Digital photography has made the editing process easier-- so take advantage of it.
Photographing a lot of children at once can be challenging but so much fun. Instead of trying to make everything perfect just have fun and let the little imperfections enhance your photos in ways you never thought possible. The more fun the siblings are having, the better your photos will be.