I would like to start this post by saying that I believe that where custom photography is concerned, every family session should be different. Sometimes I think we (both the photographer and the subject) wrestle with creating art that shows who the family is versus how the family would like to be seen. I don’t think that the two are often the same, but I think the closer together they are, the more peace, contentment and joy we allow ourselves to experience. That being said, some kids are cuddly, some are messy, some are serious and some are giggly. Sometimes the differences are in the age and stage the child or children are in and sometimes its up bringing, anxiety, or personality that play a part. My biggest goal when photographing a family together is that I do what I can to bring the stress and feelings of pressure down on everyone involved. This often takes time, songs, dances, funny stories, running, jumping and just playing.
I just couldn’t help it. I mean how many of you have an animated disco family photo anyway? I sure don’t!
Having said that, Jennifer and I have known each other a long time. My hubby used to work with her at a magazine in Louisiana and Jennifer has seen my work pretty much since it began. Jennifer even did the proof reading of my photography workbook for moms! Even though we are not super close (we have never hung out on the weekends or anything), I know that Jennifer knows my work, what to expect and trusts me. This is an awesome relationship to start a shoot with!
Jennifer’s two younger kids are in such a fun stage! They know what they like and how to act silly. Unfortunately they are also products of school photography and many years of conditioning to the phrase “say cheese.” I want to address this issue here because many of the children I have been photographing for a while now are growing into this stage. So what do you do when you have a child that “cheeses”? Well for one thing you stop telling them to say cheese at your camera. Next you start shooting. Shoot in bursts taking multiple images at one time (this is easier with a DSLR). Shoot just past when it feels comfortable to keep holding down the shutter. Let kids photograph you, and do not be concerned with what angle or side they are shooting you at! And when you see the picture, don’t gasp at your double chin or point out the new wrinkle beside you eyes. Doing so teaches kids to be nervous and worry during photos. Most of go out and do something fun with your kids, take lots of pictures and then put your camera down and enjoy the TIME with your kids. This helps your child understand that while you value capturing memories, the thing you are most concerned with is MAKING them.
Okay that is all for now. I enjoyed every minutes of these kids and this family. Jennifer was great and went inside after their family photo and let me run through the woods with the kids for quite some time and just do our thing. Her son, who didn’t want to take pictures at all said when we were going in: “Are you going to do this with other kids or just us?” I said “This? Just you!” To which he replied: “Can you take another picture of me?”
So remember the best remedy to a cheesy smile is fun.
And one last GIF