We live in an Instagram world, which means every photo you snap and share to social media has to be pretty close to perfect. But when the subject of your photo is a temperamental toddler, taking that "perfect" photo requires more effort than finding the right light. You want the shot to be beautiful and your child to be happy (and, ideally, avoid any temper tantrums along the way.) That's why it's important for you to have some photo taking tips for parents in your belt.
Even if you decide to pay a professional photographer to take your child's photo, these tips as good to have on hand. After all, the last thing you want is to waste your money on a meltdown in the studio. "If you tell a lot of kids, especially under the age of three, 'I want to take your picture' or 'lets go do a photoshoot', they don’t really want to do that," Laura Gehring, an on-site photographer for online retailer zulily, tells Romper. As part of her job, Gehring works with children on a daily basis. Sometimes she works with more professional kids, like Instagram stars Ava and Everleigh. (Just check out the work she did on their BoHo Chic shopping shoot.) But she mainly photographs children who don't spend their lives in front of the camera. By developing some tricks over the year, Gehring has perfected the art of photographing children, as well as making the experience enjoyable for everyone involved.
"At the end of the day, at least for me and for the studio team, really creating an incredible model experience for every day people," Gehring says. So how does she keep kids of all ages smiling through hour-long shoots? Here are some of Gehring's photo taking tips that all parents should utilize during their next photo session.
1. Play A Game
Tot not in the mood to take a photo? Try turning it into a game. "I used to do this thing on set like 'Simon Says," Gehring says. "It's like, 'touch your nose, touch your heels, touch your knees,' and you go faster and faster. They try to keep up, and they just break out laughing." Not only does a game like this get the giggles going, but Gehring adds that getting your kids to act a little goofy makes for some great photographable moments.
2. Experiment With Light
Despite my request to settle the great debate on whether the light should be behind the camera or the subjects, Gehring says the only rule when it comes to photography lighting is to avoid the harsher varieties. "If it [the light] is behind you, you’ll get this really broad frat lit situation, and that can be really amazing," she says. "If you really like that kind of airy back lit look, then the sun should be behind the subject." Ultimately, it comes down to what you prefer and what you’re trying to accomplish.
3. Limit The Number Of Poses
Unless your kid is a professional model, they'll quickly get annoyed with your demands to "strike a pose." But Gehring says you can use that to your advantage. Snap shots of them goofing off or acting silly, which Gehring says are some of the best pictures.
4. Make Them Feel Comfortable
"Anything that makes them feel comfortable and at home will make for a better shoot," Gehring says. Whether that means having their favorited stuffed animal on set or playing their favorite song in the background, do what you have to do to get them to smile.
5. Always Have Snacks On Hand
Even if you're just doing a DIY photo shoot in your backyard, Gehring stresses the importance of sustenance. "We’ve saved so many photoshoots with just snacks," she tells me.
6. Take A Break
The worst thing you could do is force your child to take photos when they aren't in the mood. "If it’s already not working, you can come back to it later," Gehring says. "Yeah you might’ve missed one moment, but if they’re not into the photoshoot or having their picture taken don’t try to force it. Because at the end of the day nobody is going to walk away happy from that one. "
7. Keep An Eye Out For Candid Moments
The beauty of having a camera phone is that you can tae a picture whenever the opportunity presents itself. Because try as you might to have the picture-perfect photo shoot, sometimes the best images are caught after the shoot. "Those are the moments — the moments that wouldn’t necessarily, that really in the moment just caught your eye," Gehring says. "Like 'oh they’re sitting there on the ground just eating peas,' and it’s something that you really want to capture. Those are the moments that you really want to capture and hold onto for the rest of your life.