You love your kids! That doesn't mean they don't drive you crazy, give you grey hairs or less hair, but you wouldn't trade it for anything - most days... just kidding. I used to think I wanted twins so that I could be done and over, but having 2 kids just short of 19 months apart makes me realize I probably would be totally bald if God had given me twins. He definitely knows what we can handle.
It makes you sad to think how fast they are growing and how much they are changing (by the days, weeks, months). So you set up an appointment to have their pictures taken so you can remember them as they are, but in reality we want the nice smiley pictures too. If the following scenario sounds like you, then you are not alone...
"Pictures are scheduled for the next day and you've forgotten to plan outfits so like a mad woman you are running around the house looking for coordinated outfits (let's face it, you are looking for non-wrinkly, non-stained, sort of matching outfits). If you do not succeed a light bulb goes off and you realize you could get yourself a non-kid shopping experience at target out of the predicament you're in. The husband is more than happy to get his frantic wife out of the house."
"The next morning you are preparing the kids for the session or bribing, black mailing, practicing your evil eye (whatever you want to call it). As the session time is getting closer everyone gets dressed and threats about messed up hair, spilling on clothes, bad attitudes are reiterated. Little Jonny refuses to wear the shoes you bought and Sally wants bows that don't even match her dress. You can feel the tension in the air. Have I forgotten to mention dad yet? Hmmm... Ever heard the saying, "If Momma aint happy, then nobody's happy." Well, the real truth is "If Daddy aint happy, then Momma's not happy, therefore nobody's happy." Ask any photographer and they will tell you."
"By the time you get to the session, the family that normally loves each other (or at least gets along most of the time) is now ready to pull each other's hair out. This sounds like a great time to take pictures of each other showing the tight bond they all share, right? Not!"
Here are some tips for preparing for a session with kids:
1. Kids can feel the tension in the air and most of the time it causes them to stress. They don't know how to handle stress well (does anyone?) so they tend to act out. Try to relax as much as you can which in turn will help the kids relax. Don't put so much pressure on them to perform, remember you are trying to capture who they are not a hallmark card. Also remember that children have short attention spans, so breaks to wiggle a little in the session are helpful and not always necessarily an act of defiance.
1a. Don't forget teens are a whole different ball game. They are struggling with self image, figuring out who they are (or want to be), and how to feel good about themselves. Give them a little freedom in choice of clothes (to an extent - we remember the pictures of ourselves where we thought we were cool too) and allow them to have some input on the session. Teens are less likely to fake what's not there, so spend quality time with them being silly and getting to know them (don't embarrass though).
2. An incredible children's photographer named Tamara Lackey had some great tips for helping kids and preparing parents. She warns her parents that the kids will probably misbehave and she is totally fine with that. She says they are testing their boundaries and seeing how much they can trust this stranger. She pushes parents to let loose for the session time and allow them a little wiggle room. The biggest thing she wants parents to know is that she has seen it before so no need to get embarrassed or go full-on drill sergeant on the kid. The harder you push the more they will push back. ** Did you know that most of the time if a parent is not in the room the child does better. (Doesn't always work with toddler/stranger danger stage)
3. Prepare daddy. Bribery may work for him, but really, make it about being fun. Get him involved. If he's not interested, ask him what is the least painful thing he wouldn't mind doing for a picture with his family. Remind him that these will be passed down for his grandchildren to see and does he really want the grandkids to ask, "Why does Grandpa look like he's constipated?"
4. Make it FUN! Gone are the days of the statue poses. Pick a fun location, create a theme, fly a kite, bring balloons, read a book, pretend to be the "Incredibles." Just remember that these are memories too and you want to look back and laugh or at least smile.
5. Now Momma go and reward yourself for a job well done or at least done!
** Stay tuned for upcoming classes on how to take better 'day to day' pictures of your children **