A prescription for photographer's child syndrome...
April 4, 2016 , FAMILY
As a photographer and a mom, I know how difficult it is to get your children to stay in the frame for a snap or two. When I pull out the camera, the peasants revolt. I must admit that it’s not just the kids who make it difficult, I’m guilty, too. There are times when the mere idea of documenting my family makes me cringe. They run away, make obnoxious faces when I go to press the shutter, or flat out attack one another. Not exactly the ingredients for a stunning image. It’s much tougher photographing your own offspring than it is photographing someone else’s child who has already been bribed and threatened, *cough* I mean, properly prepared, for a photo session. Since I’m responsible for all threats and bribes directed at my own children (and clearly not very good at it), I must resort to something else to treat photographer’s child syndrome. And the best prescription for little boogies that run from the camera is games. That’s right, games (save the bribes and threats for cajoling the young into bed at bedtime).
When the camera comes out, children immediately fall into the photo session schema and embrace all the cheesy, unauthentic smiles that come with it. Playing games takes kiddos by surprise, gives them something else to focus on, and basically makes the photo session schema irrelevant to what we’re doing. This is a great strategy if you’re after authentic grins and honest images. One of the “games” that works remarkably well for me is suggesting that one child whisper something really silly about me to the other child. I then proceed to guess the secret (the crazier the guess, the better the reaction). If you want to capitalize on the sibling rivalry (hear me out) and turn what can be an absolute bummer into a photographic opportunity, you can hold a contest. Who can jump the highest? Who can laugh the loudest?…Finally, try having someone behind you make an expression or a silly gesture and have the kids play monkey see, monkey do and mimic it. You’ll get some goofy stuff, but they’ll have fun and those moments in between the goofiness are pure gold. Last but not least, be flexible. If something isn’t working, a certain game or task doesn’t appeal to them, or hyperactivity sets in, abandon what you’re doing and try something new. Better yet, learn from them. That is, be open to their cues and rhythm. Be playful. Let them make the rules so you can stop enforcing them.
The following images were taken under less than ideal circumstances. It had been raining for what seemed like forever (seriously…I was looking for that dove with the olive branch every.day.). The sun didn’t really come out, but the rain did stop. That was enough to get us outside for some quick photos and just plain goofing around. The kids weren’t keen on getting their photos taken, but with the help of a sizable glass of wine (for myself. isn’t that why autofocus was invented?), a lot of flexibility, and a dash of patience (did I mention the wine); I managed to get a set of images of my children that I really love (and not just because I love my children =) ).