If you’ve ever tried to get professional child photos done with your young children, you know the struggles. They don’t want to sit still. They’re making faces. They whine or cry. They look to the left when you want them to look forward. The list is endless! Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks or secret formulas to ensure your kids will be on their best behavior and picture-perfect when portrait time comes along. However, there are a few things as a parent you can do to help out the photographer and put your kids’ best face forward!
Choose the right time of day. If you have a 12-month old and your portrait time is in the middle of their nap schedule, you’re probably asking for trouble. When is your child the most alert, the most attentive, most likely to listen? Just like you, your child is probably either a morning or an afternoon (or evening) person and figuring out which they are may help you with their portraits!
Give them a focal point. If your kids are really young, they probably have no concept of why they should look at the camera (or the photographer, for that matter). What do they want to see? They either want to see Mom and Dad or they want to see something colorful and exciting. Give them this by standing behind the photographer with their favorite toy, a colorful book or anything else that will hold their attention.
Offer a bribe. Okay, it may not be the best parenting trick, but it often works. If your kids are old enough to understand, tell there is a treat waiting for them if they behave during the photo shoot. It could be as little as taking them out for ice cream afterward or it could be a new toy or book they’ve been wanting. The point is, they get something if they behave and make your and the photographer’s life easier. While it may not be a tactic you want to use regularly, deploying it once a year or so for portrait time might just get the job done.
Don’t give them candy or sugar before the shoot. You know the story…you’re on your way somewhere and your child is begging for a treat, so you slip him a sucker or a drink of your soda. Not usually a big deal, but this can be a deal killer if you’re on your way to the photography studio! Kids react to sugar with anything from slight jitters to explosive amounts of raw energy—neither of which are conducive to portraits! Feed your child a meal or snack low in sugar before the shoot and save the candy as a reward!
If you’re using a child or family photographer who has lots of experience with kids, you’ll probably find that they have tons of other tricks up their sleeves to help your kids look their best. However, as much help as you the parent can give them will be much appreciated and will result in better quality portraits.