Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Kids

Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Kids

So you have decided that you want to learn photography, and a natural place to begin is to document your family life – but what you didn’t expect was for your kids to reject your efforts, right? Even if your minis get a kick out of your new skill and are completely supportive – keep reading, these tips can still be helpful!

Capturing memories started as an interest and is now a passion of mine. Sporadic family photos have morphed into daily camera clicks at our house – at first it was all fun and games but soon my kids tired of having the camera in their face (“constantly” according to my daughter). The last thing I wanted was for my desire to capture our daily life to create friction and result in negative energy around our home. Taking daily photos does not have to be intrusive and you can help your kids get on board with your new skill by integrating some or all of these tips into your day.

Have a specific resting place for your camera.

Mine is always perched on the kitchen counter next to my laptop when not in use. Why is this one such a big deal? Picture this: how many times have your kids been in the middle of doing something cute, and you’re frantically searching for the camera – only to get there too late? Even worse, begging/bribing ensues to convince your kids to recreate the moment, and we all know this never ends well. The whole fiasco creates unnecessary stress in the home, and your kids will eventually come to resent your new photography skills. Designate a within-your-reach and accessible location as the new home for your camera. It took about two weeks to create the habit, but we have virtually eliminated “where’s the camera!!” fiascos.

Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Your Kids
I have been waiting for Liam to sleep with his head facing the door at this end of the crib for weeks to try for this shot. I happened to walk by when he was this way the other day. I had about a 5-minute window before he changed positions so having my camera in it’s designated spot saved precious minutes. Thanks to preplanning I was able to capture the memory I have been waiting for.

Create a photo shoot, using input from your designers (aka your kids).

Have you ever considered taking fun, staged photos of your kiddos? Don’t overthink it, just allow your little people to explore their creativity with props and locations. Ask them for ideas and treat their creativity with the utmost importance. Yes, most of their ideas might be a little out there – but have fun with it! Putting their own stamp on it will keep them engaged and interactive, while giving you longer to learn and experiment with camera settings in a new environment. Get creative, include items that they love – even if it’s your least favorite toy, just remember that the most important thing is giving yourself time to practice your skills – whatever it might take. You might be surprised what memories come out of it!

Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Your Kids
This adorable little gal is the daughter of a close friend. She was over it fairly quickly, but by including props that she loves (a book and stuffed animal) she was willing to stay engaged for just long enough to allow me to practice with a few settings and experiment with the lighting in my backyard.

Be sympathetic to their feelings.

Though my kids are getting used to the camera being out all the time, they sometimes lose their patience with me. Being completely honest, capturing memories does take a substantial amount of time and work. Be real and expect a little bit of resentment from the little kiddos who used to get your undivided attention. Take the time to explain why you are taking their pictures. I used to ask my daughter to help me by being patient because I was really interested in photography and wanted to learn how to use my camera so I could create beautiful pictures of she and her brother. I compared it to her love for crafts and reading, and the look on her face told me that she made the connection.

Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Your Kids
This moment was incredibly important for me to capture because it was the last time these two played outside of our first home before we moved. We had so many first memories here, so I had a quick sit down with my oldest to share my feelings, and asked her to help me capture them. I simply instructed her to pretend I wasn’t there, and I snapped a series of photos that will tell our story for a lifetime.

Have realistic expectations.

You are not going to create the perfect shot every single day. Even the most talented and successful photographers have off days. Photographing your own children may potentially be more stressful than the job of a award-winning photographer because you have the emotional attachment of being related to your clients. Ease into it, test the waters and see how much your kids are willing to tolerate. You may have absolutely no problem and ample hours to practice because your kids totally dig the idea of your new talent – if so, then I totally envy you! I began as a total camera control freak, and my children felt my tense attempts to achieve the perfect photo. I promise you, let loose on the reigns and that is when the magic will happen. Almost every single time I get out my camera with zero expectations, I end up with a picture that epitomizes all of my effort.

Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Your Kids
I took Liam outside with the expectation of taking some pictures of him playing in the wooded area in our backyard. Regardless of my expectation, he did not want to leave my side and I was able to capture this peaceful moment as he filled my frame right next to me. It was not the shot that I sought out to get – but putting all expectations aside, I captured a sweet moment that I could never recreate.

Keep it simple, stupid.

Not my most tactful saying, but I swear by it. Keep the house clean, keep the counters cleared off, reduce clutter. This just got more involved than you expected 😉 but the less you have to think about in your already over-packed day, the more time you have to dedicate to capturing those beautiful memories for generations to enjoy.

Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Your Kids
No matter how hard I try, the surfaces in my house are not always clean. Spend 30 seconds tops clearing items off the surfaces that will be visible in your photo – it will improve your photo instantly.

BONUS TIP: If you are using a DSLR, learn back-button focusing. Learn it, and give it at least 4 weeks before deciding whether you love it or hate it. I will never go back. Two things are working against you when taking pictures of kids and trying for tack sharp pictures – camera shake and kids being in constant motion. I’m not going to go much into the specifics because I’m not exactly qualified on the subject – but you can Google it to learn more or read this excellent tutorial from Click It Up A Notch.

Lastly – it gets easier. Your skills will improve with every click, and pretty soon it won’t take you so long to set up and execute a worthy shot. And if it doesn’t get easier, be willing to put down the camera for a while. Continue your education through photography forums and blogs, and take some time for yourself when the kids are in bed or before they wake up to practice with your camera. A few of my favorite photos have been of my children sleeping. Don’t be disheartened if your kids are less than cooperative, but realize that forcing it on them will make it even worse.

I would love to hear what kind of tried and true tips you have tried to get your kids on board!

Thank you for reading and have a blessed day!

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I'm a mom that loves blogging.

4 thoughts on “Lifestyle Photography: Five Tips To Encourage Cooperation From Kids

  1. I am so glad your love for this art did not die when I accidentally destroyed your indestructible, underwater camera in highschool … This is great !!

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