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Don’t worry, it happens to most people!
In this blog I am going to offer up some tried and true tricks of the trade as an experienced Lehigh Valley Family and Children’s Photographer for over a decade. You will leave here feeling confident that you’ve done all you can to ensure your little baby (or big kid) is ready to give you the smiles that you want!
Pssst… I also have some tips for you grown ups, too! Stick around, it’ll be worth it!
“Never work with children or animals.”W.C. Fields
In the heat of a two year old tantrum, 20 minutes into their one hour photoshoot… I’ve often thought of this quote! But I love kids too much to let a little meltdown stop me!
Teenagers and pre-teens: These guys are FBI level negotiators. Bribes work REALLLLLY well on middle school kids and, I mean- let’s be honest… what high schooler isn’t negotiating everything at home from chores to later bedtimes, screen time allowances and more! When I photograph teens, I like to start with a pre-warning before we kick things off. I’ll tell them if they listen and play along, we will be done before they know it. You can help reiterate this by being proactive before the shoot. On your way to your photoshoot, give your teens a pep talk. It might sound something like this: “Alright guys, listen up! We are all dressed and we are going to be on time so we’re already winning!! This family photoshoot means so much to me! I can’t wait to hang a new canvas above the mantle and update your headshots in the frames by the stairs. Miss Lori’s time is limited and honestly, it’s hot outside so none of us want to be out here longer than we need to be, right? (a resounding YES will assuredly come from the back seat) We are going to listen to what she tells us to do, we’re going to hug if she says hug and we’re going to have FUN, I promise! When we’re all done, we can make a pit stop for ice cream at that amazing creamery you’ve been wanting to try! We really want to do our best so we will always smile when we see these photos on our wall!”
Older Elementary School Aged: This group of kids still really love having fun and being silly so they’re always some of my favorite ages. Bribes still work really well for this age but are not really as necessary. The girls usually LOVE having their photos made and will pose like perfectly, or even show off some of their dance pose stances! Boys at this age will often like to pretend they don’t want to be photographed or roll their eyes and stick out their tongue if I ask them to hug their sibling but deep down, I KNOW, they actually love the attention!
Again, preparation is key! Let them know how important this is to you, how you can’t wait to gift Auntie/Grandma/Pop Pop a print for their wall! When you arrive, remember that all the prep work is done and let me work my magic… if you’ve worked with me in the past, you know there are some supernatural happenings that get smiles at times- that or the lifelong experience of working with children! If some joke I say doesn’t land, I change it up.
Preschool to Early Elementary Aged:
So we made it out of those tough ages and entered the blessed years for family photographers… the “take my picture” stage! Once a kiddo of this age is comfy in front of my camera for 5 minutes, they let their big personality out! They come up with pose ideas, they want to make silly faces, they think I’m like… REALLY freakin’ cool… you know- that cool aunt who would always send us money in cards on our birthdays and let us swim in her pool without taking that dumb 15 minute break after eating a quarter of a PB&J… THAT kinda cool! This is the age that runs back to give me one last hug or feels comfortable asking 394 questions about everything from my choice of clothes, to why there’s a bed in the studio if I don’t sleep there and why their photo isn’t featured on my wall like all the other kids-even when it’s our first time meeting 😉
Food is the way to smiles for this age! Here’s a typical conversation with a kindergartner for their 5th birthday photoshoot:
“What’s your favorite animal? Do you like skunks? Would you ever eat a skunk? How bout skunk pizza? Skunk ice cream?” They realize that I’m so silly even the most shy can’t help but laugh out loud!
Two year olds:
I’m going to go out on a limb and say, I know two year olds better than most. First, I have one living in my house right now and I survived two other ones. Two year old photoshoots are most definitely my toughest and my challenging age! For so many reasons but they all boil down to one common thing- toddlers are unpredictable! What works for one makes the next one cry. They don’t know what reason is yet so bribing them doesn’t work til next year… believe me, I’ve tried! I’m just going to get right into it here with this one, hang on tight and God bless the parents and guardians of toddlers! Also, lets get the daycare teachers a raise while we’re at it!
One Year Olds:
Ahh, probably my favorite age! One is so easy… even the one year old runners are easy in comparison to two year old photos! Here are some of my favorite tricks for getting smiles from your first birthday babe!
Infant to Sitter:
Once baby outgrows that brand new sleepy stage, they will begin to give you massive smiles that you will imprint into your brain and be able to imagine for the rest of your life! Here are some simple but tried and true ways to guarantee smiles at your infant/sitter milestone session:
Experts say that newborn’s smiles are a reflex from an internal stimulant like gas and not at all from pleausure! I’m not saying a seven day old baby is going to give you a social smile like, “Heyyyy, LG!! It’s so nice to see you” kinda grin but I have photographed nearly one thousand newborn portrait sessions in my career and I’ve capture hundreds of smiles. There are some definite things you can watch for to try to capture that fleeting newborn smile while they’re sleeping whether at my studio or at home on your couch with your phone!
I would much rather believe that newborns smile based on sweet dreams and familiar voices than from painful gas bubbles… that sounds like a crotchety old man came up with that thought- I mean, gas is generally not pleasant or smile generating… am I right? I get what the experts are saying and I’m not saying they’re wrong just that I feel strongly about my theory as well 😉
That sums it up. I hope this helps you feel confident you’ve done everything in your power to have a smiling and successful photoshoot with your kiddos! If you found this blog helpful, please subscribe to my newsletter HERE and follow me on all the socials and drop a comment below!
I look forward to the opportunity to work with you and if I can ever help you in any way, please reach out!
Here’s to happy kids and fast cameras!
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