Momtography - Tips and tricks for capturing your own kids on camera!
Do you often feel like getting candid pictures of your own kids is a massive struggle that is too frustrating to even fully attempt?! I always like to reassure clients during sessions that my worst clients are my own kids! It is true what they say - kids will listen to a stranger better than they will to you! Just because I'm a photographer doesn't mean it is easy to capture pictures of my own kids, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you score your own photos when you are in between professional sessions!
For babies, not yet walking:
My number 1 tip for babies is to pay attention to their routine! Are they tired? Hungry? Try to aim for pictures when they are at their happiest. If you attempt those cute monthly photos right before naptime, you may find a different result than if you had waited until right after nap!
This isn't always possible, but if you can, have a helper! Have Dad be there to position baby and jump out of the way! Once they are rolling over or crawling, it can be tricky to keep them still. Having a helper to position them is so helpful!
Keep distractions at a minimum. Turn off the tv, and depending on the age of siblings, maybe ask them to go play somewhere else for a minute. Babies can get overstimulated pretty easily and the less distractions the better.
Make all the sounds! Once you have distractions cleared out, now you can make all the noises and keep the focus towards you! Try fake coughing, sneezing, barking, raspberries, singing... nothing is off-limits! Once you find THE thing that makes your baby laugh, do it over and over! Babies loves repetition!
Bribe, bribe, bribe! Snacks can be extremely helpful but avoid ones with lots of color or crumbs. White marshmallows, animal crackers and apple slices are great ones in between shots! Use things they love and explain in terms they understand! "Sit, say cheese, and you get a marshmallow!" Also make sure you follow through on the bribe right away. Also try not to use TV or apps as a bribe, as that will serve more as a distraction.
Again, like with babies, have a helper if possible! Just having someone to position your toddler or give them a quick swoop through the air before setting them down can be so helpful!
Contain them if possible - box, couch, swing, crib, or somewhere they can't easily escape! Even if it just buys you a few extra seconds, sometimes that's all you need!
Get them to interact - animal sounds, "how do you...", how big are you, can you clap, sing a song, etc. Anything that will make them freeze and give you a cute expression! Often, they will be proud of themselves and will smile immediately afterwards too!
Negotiation! "If you let me take a few pictures, you can play a game afterwards!" "If you smile nicely for a few pictures, you can have a piece of chocolate when we're done!" "Only 5 minutes of pictures and then you can play with playdoh!" - use terms they understand and find their bribe. Make sure to follow through on the bribe and make sure to offer them plenty of praise when they do a good job listening!
Know when to take a break. If your kiddo is not feeling it, don't force it. Come back to it after an hour or after a snack. Sometimes they aren't in the mood, and that won't lead to good pictures.
Ask them to be a helper if you have little kids. They like to help and feel important! Ask them to go first and show the little kids how it's done!
Position big kids first and then babies - toddlers always last! Big kids can generally sit still the longest.
Let them see the back of your phone/camera AFTER all the pictures have been taken - or you'll waste a lot of time!
Say and do age-appropriate things. Fall down, make silly faces, say "potty" words, "don't you laugh/smile", let's surprise Daddy with these.
Hopefully some of these tips will give you a new idea for your next Momtography session! When you are ready for your next professional session, I'm here to help!