Schools out for summer!

The six weeks summer holidays can be a great chance to get some nice portraits of your kids. I’m thinking its a good way to utilise all the time you get together. And a chance to catch them when they are relaxed at at their best!! ;)

However it can be tricky getting them to play ball. Especially if you are wanting a traditional shot of them sitting down, side by side, smiling.  As far as I can see there are two main challenges: firstly getting everyone to sit down and look at the camera and secondly to try and get everyone to give a genuine smile. Here are some ideas I have used in the past to help:

Getting kids to sit still and look at the camera

I find the best way to achieve this is to cheat. Rather than asking children to sit still for a photo, it is generally better if you can think of some reason that the kiddos need to sit down and look at you.  While you hold a camera. For example:

  1. Delivering instructions. Let’s say you are about to play a new game, children need to sit and listen to the instructions. Children need to listen carefully while they are looking at you!  
  2. Use incentives. I deliver some instructions that, if followed, will result in the children receiving a small treat. For example, children listen to a set of instructions to follow, like ‘When I say go. If you can jump up and down, spin around and then shout ‘cheese’ you will receive a chocolate”.  I find it is better that children have to do something for their treat, if you say “Smile and I’ll give you a chocolate’ this might not result in genuine smiles! 
  3. Make it a game! For example, how long can you stand together, and hold each other while standing on one leg. When the music stops can you get together and look at me. It could be the start of a race.
  4. Watching telly or, better yet, get someone to put on a show! While the kids are engaged you can snap away. To get them to look at you you might shout something or threaten to turn the telly off!
  5. Mix it up! Don't have them all in a row. Just photograph the children where they are. Throw in a tree or a wall and I bet they start climbing all over them. Get them to stop where they have climbed. This can often produce a better, more interesting arrangement than in a row.

Getting children to smile at the camera

I try not to say 'Smile!" As this almost never results in a smile. My aim is to tease a smile from the child by getting them to forget I am trying to take a picture. Here are some ideas

  1. Say something. It’s a classic, but asking children to say cheese is a good start. It makes their mouths form a ‘sort of’ smile. I then might ask them to say something else, usually food related like ‘pizza’ or ‘ice cream.’ One mum, whose son I photographed, got him to say ‘poo’. This worked a treat, he thought it was hilarious.  I like: ‘smelly socks,’ or ‘stinky feet’.   Something that they might find funny is a bonus.
  2. Ask questions and get them chatting. I often ask what food they like, ‘Do you like ice cream?’ ‘What kind of ice cream?’  You could then even ask silly questions, "Do you like smelly sock ice cream?" Anything to raise a laugh.
  3. Tickles. You tickle them, they tickle each other, they tickle you.  I have a little cheeky rabbit who likes to do some tickling. Also other grown ups who are around can usually be roped in for tickles too.
  4. Do something surprising! You might have a puppet behind the camera. Or a confetti canon. Or someone standing nearby with a hose pipe! Anything that will surprise the kids. Once you have surprised them you can do it again. This time you might get some shots of kids waiting with anticipation!

Of course you could always hire a photographer! We are offering mid-week minis in the holidays. Short snappy (pun intended) sessions, with just the kids, to get some nice portrait shots of them. Follow the link for more details.