This session was one of those times where the youngest, a handsome toddler, was not so sure about having to get dressed up and be outside while a strange lady pointed a big black hunk of metal at him. But I have seen this before, and I was not deterred. Here are some of the things I do to capture great family photos even when there is a little who is a little wary of the situation:
The first thing is that I ease them into it. I let mom the little one stay in the parent’s arms where they are comfortable and I do not ask them to look at the camera. I also use this opportunity to be soft and warm while keeping my distance. I don’t want to spook him or her, and I give them time to warm up.
Another thing I do is give them lots of breaks. If the little one wants to take off and pick up sticks, then that is what is going to happen. I either follow the little one around and capture he or she doing their thing or I take this time to photograph other combinations of the family. For example, I worked with mom and daughter for some super cute shots while baby brother took a break.
Once we’ve had some time together and the little one has warmed up to the situation even a little, I switch my tactic. Now we make a game out of ever photo opportunity. We play one-two-three swing, dad throws the little guy into the air, mom spins him around in circles, he and sis skip down the path together. I keep him or her busy with fun. These are always my favorite shots and at this point I usually get smiles and laughs that are truly genuine.
And the last thing I do once the little one has had some fun and isn’t so wary is family cuddles and tickles. In mom and dad’s laps smothered with love and attention is always a comfortable place for the little one, and makes it easy to capture some sweet together moments of the family.
Whenever parents start to get frustrated or worried that a little one might not cooperate fully, I let them know not to worry. Look, the kids run the show. I never force anything. I follow their leads and let them be who they are going to be, and do what they want to do. And frankly, it almost always works. We get fun playful images highlighting connection and family dynamic. The only caveat is that if we have a little one who truly does not want to be there, mom and dad may have to let go of the everyone smiling at the camera image. But the truth is, those are my least favorite anyway! Let’s get together for some authentic and genuine photos.