Over the summer I went into a little bit of detail about this, focusing on the session as a whole and how when the parents relax the kids relax. I gave a bunch of tips on making the session stress free so that everyone is relaxed and children don’t feed off of the parents stress. If you missed that post you can find it HERE. I wanted to take a little more time to talk about this since I know it is a huge thing that parents stress about before their family or children’s photo session.
I spoke in the other post a little bit about bribes but I want to talk a little more about this. Some of you were a little shocked when I said don’t bribe your children. I wanted to clarify this, bribes can work, if used properly, but in most cases this is what I see.
Why bribes fail….
Here is the issue I see over and over. Parents have chosen a bribe for the session, for example “if you are good we will get ice cream after the session” and they start talking about this bride before the session. As they are getting ready for the session they repeat this over and over, sometimes they start to talk about this the night before.
What happens in the case of small children is that by the time the session starts two thing have happened. #1 The child has decided that whatever it is they are about to do must be TERRIBLE and no fun, otherwise why would their parents bribe them to do it? #2 The child has already started to loose interest in whatever you say you are going to give them, this is just too long to wait for the reward and they have give up on waiting. The younger the children, the quicker this happens, but I see it in older children as well.
The result? 5 minutes into our 1-2 hour photo session parents have turned from the positive of you are going to get this for being good to the negative of if you don’t stop that and behave I you will NOT get this. Next thing I know I have a crying child. Not so good for portraits.
So if bribery does not work than what should we do?
When I photograph my own kids I rarely use bribery and when I do its as a last resort. The first thing I do is design a photo shoot that will be fun for them. This is something I love to do with my clients as well. When you contact me for your session tell me what your child LOVES to do. Do they love to sing or dance? Do they have a favorite stuffed animal or a favorite character? If we are planning a a children’s photo shoot these things are very easy to incorporate into their session. Some of my favorite photo shoots of my kids have incorporated their current interests. They have dressed up as their favorite characters, done photo shoots with their favorite stuffed animals, had tea parties, played circus, and gone flower picking and all of those sessions capture just a bit of who they are at that age that a traditional head shot or school portrait never would.
What if you are planning a family session?
You can apply some of these same techniques to this as well. Fun family shoot could include a family tea party or picnic, wildflower picking, searching for bugs or just cuddling together on a blanket and singing their favorite song together. Once your child is relaxed and having fun it is much easier for me to say “ok now I need everyone to look here and smile” and to get that perfect posed, smiling at the camera shot for you to hang on your wall.
Suddenly the conversation on the car ride over has gone from ” you better behave if you want to go get ice cream” to “We are going to have so much fun at the park getting out photos taken” and now your only job once you arrive is to have fun and let me direct your children into the poses I need them in to get great portraits. and if you still feel like you need a bribe hide their favorite teddy bear in your purse and pull it out when they start to get wiggly. Then you can bride them with “If you smile for this picture we can take a picture of you and teddy together next”.
I promise using this technique will make your session fun, relaxed and memorable!
Want more information on a session with me? Visit my website http://www.truth-photography.com
Check out some of the other fun sessions with my kids below: