Is it possible to survive taking pictures of an entire family? To not become a stressed-out, frenzied mess trying to capture a picture of the children you will actually like?
I’m asking for a friend.
When our first born was 1, a photographer took candid family shots in our home. With little effort, she captured an award winning photo. Our cherub beamed at the camera with one hand on me, and the other touching his daddy. That was the last easy photo shoot of our lives.
With four boys, successfully taking a family picture makes piggybacking a porcupine look breezy.
Based upon my extensive experience, I offer a few suggestions to help you create the best possible pictures of your children.
Choose a High-Speed Setting
Are your pictures slightly blurry? Of course they are. Children. Don’t. Stop. Moving. Before capturing a single image of your multi-child family, become fully acquainted with terms like ISO and freeze frames. Practice taking high-speed images at a sprinting event. Or watching a shooting star. If you can master these feats you may be able to photograph your children “sitting.”
Bribe. Beg. Threaten. Cry. These are the big leagues. Emotional blackmail is absolutely acceptable. Probably the best option, if I am honest.
When one of my children brought home a school picture that combined a cheesy smile with nauseated, pursed lips, I delayed any reaction. Pondering which package to order, I reviewed the company’s brochure featuring a photogenic darling. My son also noticed she was…well, perfect. I cautiously asked him if it would be okay if we ordered a set of her pictures instead. I think he understood.
Be Physically Present
If coaching from the sidelines is proving ineffective, you must be prepared to jump into the shot. This allows separation of children who fare better with as much distance as your lens will allow. Notice I am demonstrating the subtle death-grip-on-his-knee which has still not deterred said child from making kissy lips. This is where photoshop is a viable option (see below).
Make sure that your own face appears relaxed and happy. And practice directing children through clenched teeth without moving your lips. Ventriloquism training is highly recommended.
Think Outside the Box
When you are expecting your second child, do not register for diapers or nursery furniture. Register for Photoshop. Accept that having more than 1 child makes it virtually impossible to ever get both children photo-ready simultaneously.
Photoshop allows you to replace pained expressions with happy ones, bunny ears with normal hands and furrowed brows with delight. Breakthrough technology even allows your kids to be in different rooms for that heart-warming sibling shot.
You can learn a lot from portrait studios and their use of props. But don’t begin by purchasing a cloudy background, antique rocking horse or fabric-covered boxes. Rather, collect more practical items that will ensure you capture a forever smile.
Adjust your expectations
After trying all of the aforementioned ideas, there are times you will need to adjust your expectations. Significantly.
I analyzed the picture below and simply altered my self-talk. For example:
<<I wanted to capture the squintiness of one boy’s eyes because I can pretend it was a sunny day. In my living room. On Christmas Eve. And who wouldn’t want to remember the way that another son was clapping randomly with his eyes closed. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all clapped more often? And why would I mind that the baby’s white dress shirt is pulled up to his armpits? He has a lovely belly button that I quite simply don’t photograph nearly enough.>>
I do hope these ideas will help you preserve lifelong memories.
I would love to hear what photography tips have helped you. Solidarity, parents!
To be fair, my own quest for a picture without multiple chins adds a further complication to this process. You can read about it here:
Or to feel even about yourself, check out my epic plant fail here:
For solid advice from a real photographer, I’ll include this link. Or to truly survive taking pictures, simply don’t. Hire this amazing photographer in the Greater Toronto Area from this site – her work is stunning.
Pin this to your board of parenting tips? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.