Getting Kids (and Grown-Ups) to Cooperate for Photos


Hello, friends!
I’m coming to you from sunny California, where my crew and I just completed our cross country move.  I’d love to say I took lots of photos of our journey but, alas, only my phone camera made its appearance.  Sometimes the craziness of life keeps us from focusing on photos, and that’s OK.
Now that we’re getting settled, I’m back to give you some ideas for making your photos better. (Whether you use a DSLR or camera phone!)
It's summer, and I'm sure you’d love to get some amazing photos of your time.  But, maybe the young people in your life couldn't care less about getting photos.  And even worse, they are bothered and uncooperative when you grab the camera.

I wish I could say this never happens to me.  I wish I could say my kids are completely cooperative and happy when I grab my camera.  But it's just not true.  See above for just a small sample of what I experience.

But fortunately, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to share with you.  Hopefully, they can help you to capture some great moments with your crew this summer.

1.  First, DON’T get them to cooperate.  Let’s take a few steps in their sweet little shoes.  How would you feel if you were engaged in your favorite activity (maybe building a Lego castle) and someone interrupted you, told you to stop everything you were doing and look at the camera????  I bet you'd be annoyed. That’s how our kids feel, too.
So for my first tip, rather than ask them to smile for a photo, just take the photo. Don't interrupt.  Capture the moment as it is, trying not to attract any attention from the kid if you can help it.
Some of my favorite photos are of my kids engaged in their activities.  I'm able to capture them and life as is, not posed for the camera. Sometimes that might involve some creative positioning on your part.  You might have to lay on your belly or stand on a chair to get the correct perspective.  But that can add to the interest of the shot, too.


2.  Remember to keep being the mom (or dad).  With your camera in hand, act the same as if you didn’t have it.  Keep talking, listen to stories, and pour the milk if they need it.  I totally understand that it takes concentration to think through everything you know about photography to get a great shot.  But, if your kids know you’ll ignore them once a photo session starts, they won’t like the camera.
3.  Hold the cheese.  You know your “say cheese” smile isn’t your best smile, right?  The same holds true for our offspring.  Telling them to “say cheese” produces, well, cheesy smiles. 

True, in tip one, I suggested you DON'T make your kids look at the camera and smile.  But there are times we want the shot with great eye contact and a genuine smile.  In these moments, I get the genuine smile through the genuine laugh.
So make them laugh.  This is the time to pull out all the stops.  Feel free to use potty humor or ask about stinky feet.  I’ll often have my husband help me out on this one.  He’ll make a super silly face with his head right next to mine.  My kids will crack up, and I’ll get some great expressions in my photos. 

The photo on the left was taken while my kids were looking at the face on the right.  


4.  Be ready.  If you want to take some photos and get some cooperation, have everything ready before your subjects show up.  Remember, patience won’t last long.  Get your settings ready ahead of time.  Sometimes you can find a cooperative “helper” who might be willing to pose while you get the settings correct.  (And if so, praise that person profusely!)  You DON’T want to have to “redo” the shoot or ask your kids to wait around while you adjust aperture. 

Do you have any other tips?  How do you get kids (and grown-ups) to cooperate when you take the photo???