We’ve all been there, especially if you are a mom, you get the camera out and everyone whines, frowns, or runs to another room. You have to resort to threats just to get everyone on board, and then they are not exactly happy in the photo. Resorting to things like, Smile or I'll take away your video games, isn't going to get that sweet face you know and love. It’s really hard to capture those special moments when your subjects turn into Sean Penn dealing with the paparazzi. As a matter of fact, I have been dubbed “the momarazzi” in our house, on occasion.
I know, you long for those photos of your family that look like magazine ads, photos that you can put on Christmas cards that leave that snobby girl you went to high school with completely green with envy! But how do you get them?
There are a few tricks to getting those Kodak moments, when your family isn’t a perfect group of fake actors hired as fillers for frame packaging.
1. Don’t Fake It
First of all, fake smiles aren’t special. Real laughter and real interaction is priceless! As a photographer, I have to figure out what makes people laugh. As a mom, friend, or family member, you already know, so you are one step ahead of the game!
Think of a story or something that always makes your family laugh when you talk about it and use it. Toss it out there a few seconds before you hit the shutter button and get everyone in a real laugh. I always love photos of my kids really laughing and sharing a moment. One day they can look back at this image and tell their kids what was so funny. There’s no story, if the smile is fake.
2. Be Quick About It
I was scarred as a child by a mother, who would get out the camera and insist that I say cheese, then a couple of minutes of fiddling with the camera later, would make my picture, well after the “cheese” had spoiled and my smile devolved into some sort of painful grimace.
|My cheese smile had a short shelf-life.|
The moral of that story is: be quick on the draw, especially with younger children. Attention spans are typically even less than they used to be a few years ago, and that goes double for little ones.
3. Approach It as Wildlife Photography
My favorite way to photograph young children is to just let them play. Parents forcing little Jimmy to stand still and smile DOES NOT WORK, unless you want photos of little Jimmy with red eyes from crying because getting his picture made is not what he had in mind for today.
Turn them loose, let them be kids, and instead approach it as wildlife photography. Let them forget that you have the camera and grab those real expressions.
4. Keep It Moving
For family portraits with little ones, I’ve discovered that having parents walk while holding them is an easy way to get group family photos. Young children do not like standing still, so having mom and/or dad carry them creates much less stress for everyone.
5. Find the Light
Good lighting is also essential in getting that family you’ve always dreamed of in the photo. Make sure you aren’t in bright sunlight or weird shadows. Open shade works great for this, or try to make sure you have a nice background that isn’t too busy. You don’t want everyone looking into the sun or your family will look like they are all struggling with an eye exam. If you don’t have open shade, shooting the photo in morning or evening light works great, too!
Use these tips to get those photos you dream of, lose that “momarazzi” title, and get the family in on creating meaningful and beautiful family photos you can rub people’s noses in….I mean cherish.