Photographing little ones can be a challenge - I totally get it! Whether you're in the backyard with your own kids or working at a family session, having eye contact with the lens can feel like a game of cat and mouse.
"Just look for ONE second!"
"Over here!" *frantically pointing at the camera*
Been there, done that. And can I say, sometimes it just doesn't cut it. Depending on the disposition, patience, mood and sugar level (ha!) of a child, they might just not want to look at the camera. And most of the time, this is totally fine. I do always aim to get a close-up portrait of each child during a session. Some willingly stick their nose in my camera, but others take some coaxing. If I've done my job of connecting with them early in the session, it does go smoother.
Here are three tried and true tips for getting those little ones to look at the lens. Try one at your next photo session! :)
"Peek-a-Boo!" This is a classic move and one that usually works with babies. Even toddlers and school age kids love to play this way. I will hold the camera in my face and pop up over it with a funny noise or expression. Really play too - kids know when you're faking it! Dart behind a tree, a sand dune, whatever is available so that when you pop up they burst into laughter. Even a smirk will do. Then, snap the shot!
"What's Inside my camera?" This is my go-to for very shy kids. I will tell them a fish (or another small object) is inside my camera. If they look closely, they'll see it. This creates beautiful, soul-filled images of kids looking right into the lens. Smiles are optional for this, but if I gasp suddenly "OH, there goes the fish! Did you see it!!?" it coaxes out a grin or a curious expression.
"Lady, there's something on your head..." I like to use this one with older, more resistant kids. There's no shame in my game! I will place something ridiculous (a twig, a leaf, a rock, a kid's lovey or small toy) on my head and balance it in place. I ask them crazy questions and as they look at the object, I get close with my camera. Then, if I knock it suddenly off my head (usually acting like a lunatic lol) they will giggle and I snap away.
That's it! A few, helpful tips to try out on your littlest subjects next time. Let me know how it goes!
Are you wanting more guidance and session tips while photographing families? Check out the Art of Imperfect: A Guide for Family Photographers and be ready for Spring and Summer sessions!