I will be the first to say I ain’t the greatest with kids. I don’t know if it is because I am short so they assume that I am one of them or what. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids and I want to have them one day. I just don’t have any maternal instincts. My mother says that it will kick in when I need it to, and I am going to believe her not just because she’s my momma but because that’s a nice thought. So I just have to muck my way through this phase until it does.
Of course, kids are a huge part of the photography business. Parents want their children’s lives documented. I think that’s great. It means more work for me and because I think it’s awesome. I love looking at pictures of myself when I was little. It doesn’t matter if it’s my mom’s slightly out of focus shots of me on every first day of school or my dad’s pictures of me with his thumb perpetually in the corner. Everyone likes to see moments that they were too young to remember or to help them hold onto the great moments of their childhood—holidays, summer vacations, birthdays.
Now, in my quest to become a professional, I really have to get in there and get comfortable with kids. Luckily, my older brothers and sister have a few and don’t mind me giving them free photo shoots. I do holiday cards and birthday photoshootsfor all their little offspring—they’re up to six kids now, ranging from a little bitty to eight years old. It boggles my mind that my older brother has an eight-year-old. I still need help paying my rent sometimes, and he’s responsible for a second grader.
Newborn shoots I am awesome at, because I don’t have to entertain a newborn. They eat, need to be changed, and sleep. The parents do all of that while I stand there. My job is to make the baby look cute (so not hard) with stuff the parents already have laying around. Then I point the camera at him or her and poof. My job is done. That’s why I think newborn shoots are my favorite. Then they get older, and they want toys, or they hate the lights, or the camera, or the outfit their parents put them in. Or they need a nap and parents aren’t paying (or not paying, depending) me to take pictures of their 4-year-old sleeping. I’m getting there, though. I’ve started recommending less posed shots and more “letting kids be kids” shots with the elementary school aged group and so far it has been paying off. Also, I bring balloons. Kids have a hard time staying grumpy when you give them balloons. As an added bonus, balloons add visual interest to the photos.
Do you have any advice on working with kids? I’d love to hear it!