Trains, Planes and Photographs
Next Weekend, the 1st and 2nd of March, we will be taking photographs at the model train show in Longview, TX, and I must admit I’m really looking forward to it. If it goes the way the last 2 we worked did, it will be a truly enjoyable experience. We worked the World’s Greatest Hobby model train show in both Houston and Fort Worth and what most impressed me about them was the interaction between the children and their parents, especially fathers and sons. I’ve rarely seen anything like it, even at other events we’ve participated in.
There was a complete absence of the ambition and pressure that color youth sporting events, another venue where parents frequently interact with their kids. No competitiveness, no drive to “measure up”. Just fathers and sons, lost together, bonding through their mutual love for all things model train. Amazing!
As a photographer it was the best of all worlds. The happy glowing faces of the children combined with the smiling, relaxed attitude of the parents made for some really great photos. Of course, our interactive train prop, large enough for the kids to climb in and on, and the cheerful sounding bell they were each allowed to ring, did nothing to diminish the smiles.
In spite of it all however, we still got the occasional “cheese smile” or sullen, rebellious frown, or deer-in-the-headlights look. The sullen frowns and cheese smiles are especially common among adolescents and teens. There are several reasons this happens, at all ages, ranging from a naturally shy personality, to an overbearing or overly protective parent. Here are a few tips to help your child have a successful photo session and get great pictures you will treasure.
1. You, the parent, RELAX! When the photographer shoots your child it won’t be with a gun. Most children, especially young ones, will take their cue from their parents. If you’re relaxed and happy, chances are they will be too.
2. Never argue with your child just before a photo shoot and don’t do photos when they’re tired. It’s lethal to the photos. An angry, frightened or tired child will not smile naturally.
3. Let the photographer do the posing. It’s part of his/her job. If she needs your help she’ll ask. Otherwise, let the photographer know what you want or don’t want before they begin, then stand within eyeshot and look happy. If your child is overly focused on pleasing you, they won’t smile naturally.
4. Don’t wait until you schedule your session or get to the location to deal with a child’s natural reticence toward the camera and the unfamiliar adult behind it. Teach them that as long as you’re there and say it’s okay, it’s OKAY. Role play with them in advance. Make it a natural part of their play routine and make it fun!
5. Stay close and keep an eye out for your child’s safety. The photographer will do their best to provide a safe environment for photo taking, but they can’t take pictures and guard your child at the same time. The guarding part is your responsibility so be ready to catch them if they start to fall. Tears of pain and fear make for poor photos.
6. Let your child be themself. Give them some say about what photos are taken and get an extra copy of their favorite print for them to keep. They’ll be much more relaxed and cooperative if they feel involved.
7. Never force a teenager. They are at that age where they’re developing their independence and if you try to force them they’ll rebel every time. If possible, convince them the session is their idea. And always give them a say in what photos are taken. If you concede gracefully and let them have the Goth shot you hate, you have a much better chance of them cooperating for that special shot you have your heart set on. Allow them to express themselves. You’ll get much better photos that are more reflective of who they are, and isn’t that what you’re after?
The ultimate goal of professional photography is to capture the true essence of who your child really is for you to treasure, even after they’re long grown. Building a healthy and loving bond with your child is a prize beyond measure and will reflect in their photos. With a little thought and advanced preparation their childhood photos can become a legacy that will be treasured for generations.
By: Patricia Hart
Southern Moon Photography, LLC
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