How sweet are these brothers? They are two of four! I have a feeling these two have a lifetime of memories ahead. Big brother was so proud to be with his little brother. And then he just looked at me and made these images happen. I’d say, he’s a natural. Not a “normal” two-year old session, that’s for sure.
STEP 1: I laid the blanket out in an area of the yard with even light. This session was purposefully schedule towards the end of the day. I usually allow 2 hours for family sessions. In the fall it’s tricky scheduling them because the later in the fall it gets, the shorter the days get. One year I made a HUGE mistake and forgot about day light savings time and schedule all my sessions after that day at the wrong time. I won’t do that again! NOTE: I faced their chins toward the sun. I did this because I didn’t need their hair lit as much as I wanted their faces lit.
STEP 2: I put the littlest head in the middle. Well relatively in the middle, since there are four kids. Then I planned to put the “biggest” head on the outside, and well I didn’t want the boys and girls together so I staggered them. I wanted the littlest head in the middle so I could get a little bit more angle and pull them closer together by differing the hight a little big. I also didn’t want her head to fall off the side and throw off the proportion of the composition.
STEP 3: Squish them together. You can see there are a few shoulders overlapping. My goal was to get their heads together as close as possible. This will feel uncomfortable, so if your clients are not into closeness, save the squishy part until the end.
STEP 4: Stepped behind the kids heads. I know! You thought I was right over their bellies right? Tricky, tricky. I was standing behind their heads (see my toes here). Why? 1- no chance of any shadows on their faces. 2- I got them to look a bit more because they almost had to look backwards. 3- it’s more comfortable for the clients, usually, if you aren’t standing “on” them.
STEP 5: Photograph! I took quite a few pictures in this pose. Them looking right at the camera smiling. Not smiling. And finally I got them to laugh. I’m not sure how, but a fart joke usually does the trick with kids. Also, threatening to tickle can do it sometimes too. Honestly, I usually start with, “Give me your best fake laugh.” If that doesn’t work, I move to the previous suggestions.
STEP 6: Rotate in editing software and edit as needed. In this case I had to take my toes out of most of the images. I also brightened them up a little bit and applied my favorite filter, all in Lightroom.
Cheers to happy posing! -Resa
I have been playing with photography for years. My parents always had a camera around, and they now have thousands of photos. As a child I loved looking through my parents photo albums. There were some standard photos of people smiling, but there seemed to be a lot of “real life” photos. People singing, cooking, cleaning, playing, sleeping… Those are the ones that always kept my attention.
As a family photographer, I try to do this with my clients. It’s sometimes difficult in such a short time period, to capture a story of a family. This sweet family is always so much fun to photograph. They have so much love between them, and now with a new sister, even more joy.
The better you know a client, and the more comfortable they feel with you, the easier it might be to get the emotion you want out of a session. With this family, we had worked together before and were very comfortable together. I did bring along some props that I thought would engage the children.
When they arrived at the location I was all set up and ready for them. After we met in the parking lot and adjusted some clothing, we got right to it, playing! Sometimes parents are concerned the children are “messing things up” but I try to assure them it’s fine. I let them explore the toys and props and actually try to get some shots right away.
I began professionally photographing clients over five years ago. What started out as a nearly life long hobby, turned professional the day the first client paid for my service. (Or maybe the second or fifth client?) Since then I have had the privilege of quite a few return clients year after year. I am so grateful for them and the friends they have referred to me.
My tip for getting return clients?
Clients are attracted not only to the photos they receive, but also the experience they have with you when they are in front of the lens.
1: BE YOURSELF & BE RELAXED
It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of photography, because there are A LOT of them. The more familiar and practiced you are with your camera and photography in general, the less consuming this part can be. My shoots go downhill (sometimes fast) if I am having equipment or technical problems. So try to nail those out before your paying sessions start. Posing also proves challenging for may new photographers. My advice is to have a game plan. When I started I even wrote it down. I had a list of shots I wanted to get (or the client wanted) in the order I wanted to get them. Sometimes you have to get creative depending on setting or people issues, but this will really help you feel like you have a handle on the session.
Let your personality shine. If you are very reserved, this might be more challenging for you and you might need to dig deep. Sometimes I have to jump around. Sometimes just being silly with little kids will help them warm up. With all children (who can speak) I spend a lot of time asking questions. I also do my best to explain to them when we are doing so they are not so freaked out in front of the camera. For older kids this usually helps take the performance pressure off of them.
2: MAKE THE EXPERIENCE ENJOYABLE
Being prepared with a plan for your session will really help with this. Be sure you have scoped out your location in advance and have a plan on where you want to stage your photos. If it’s a public place, I always check the city website to see if there will be any events happening at the time of our session.
When I look at photos of my own family, I don’t just see what’s printed on the paper, I remember the experience. I remember the mood, the weather, the smells, the laughter (and the sometimes fighting). So what I’m really seeing is the whole experience. Your clients do the same thing when they look at the photos you deliver. If they had a good time, felt cared for, had fun, etc.. those feels come back when they see their images. I’m always reminded of this when a client falls in love with an image that didn’t stand out to me. Instantly I realize they are having an emotional connection to that image. A connection I may or may not even understand.
This was the third year in a row I have photographed this family (others here and here). The first year a few of the boys were not so interested in having their photo taken. They were skeptical of me and what was going to happen. This year I am excited to share, even the most unwilling participant smiled and even talked to me! Yay! Patience and time are the best methods for clients like that I think. I anticipate next year’s photo experience being even better.
How adorable are these three sisters. Since my house is full of boys, it was such a joy to spend time with a troop of girls. We met at one of my favorite St. Louis parks and even had a visit from a deer who must have wanted her picture taken too. More photo images, and tips on posing sisters coming soon.
We had so much fun at our recent School Photo sessions in St. Louis. How cute are these kiddos?
What a fun time I had photographing this St. Louis area family a few months ago. When photographing newborns it’s always a good idea to give yourself a lot of time and arrive prepared. We had our share of “accidents”, feedings, and diaper changes, so I was glad I had slotted a few hours for this shoot.
I always send an email to the parents letting them know what to expect. Parents have said this really helps and puts them at ease when they hand off their fresh newborn to a “stranger”.
Of all my clients, new parents require the most sensitivity. They are tired, sometimes hormonal, and almost always nervous about either the shoot, you, or how their baby will behave. (Or sometimes all three). It’s your job as a photographer to make them feel as comfortable as possible, as well as get the best photos you can. This takes patience and experience.
I try to start off by just hanging out with the family. I explore the house for the best light, while they get used to the idea that I have arrived to photograph their newborn. Then I talk to them for a bit about the baby, how it’s going, etc. This gives me sometime to gauge their personality and the normal expressions of their faces (assuming you are taking some photos with the parents). There is nothing like seeing a photo that doesn’t represent your personality at all, is there? Then I start shooting.
Newborns can’t really pose, so sometimes it’s waiting for them to make the cutest face, yawn, or open their eyes. Other times, I actually pose the child by setting them how I want, and holding them there for a few seconds until you feel them relax. For example, if you want a hand on a cheek, place the sleeping child’s hand there. Then keep you fingers on it for a few seconds until the baby relaxes. Let go, and shoot.
In my bag of tricks for newborn photo shoots:
- heating pad (and extension cord)
- extra blankets
- a waterproof crib mattress pad (This is great for folding under any blanket or material you are putting the baby on.)
- a burp cloth (I usually ask the parent to led me one.)
- trimmed nails (I don’t want to scratch the baby I am trying to photograph.)
- quiet accessories (Not the time to wear the bangle bracelets or noisy earrings.)
- warm hands (I try to warm up my hands before I hold the babies when they are undressed. This helps them stay asleep, or at least feel less uncomfortable if they are awake.)
- a list of poses (Sometimes I actually write out a list, sometimes I have a list in my head. Sometimes mom or dad has provided some sort of a list, or ideas of what they want. And sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and what the parents are comfortable with.)
Tired of taking sub-par photos of your kids? These 3 simple adjustments will have you taking the photographs you like in no time.
1- Get close! Don’t be afraid. Get right up in their space. They really don’t have a sense of personal space anyway.
2- Eliminate distractions. Push aside extra toys, blankets, etc. These things clutter your photo and keep your eye from the main event, your cute kid!
3- Aim for center. Frame your shot so you are getting their nose right in the middle of your camera view. If you were playing tic-tac-toe in/on your camera viewer, this would be the center space, or just above it on the line.
How I got the shot above. The sun was close to setting. We took a quick walk to a grassy area near our house. I asked him to lay in the grass but he was getting itchy and didn’t want to lay his head down. He had his hands behind his head like he was relaxing. I stood over him (with one foot basically on either side of his head). I said something funny like, “Watch out, I’m going to sit on you!” And then I took a few shots. This one is my favorite.
In Photoshop I brightened his teeth, adjusted the lighting a little bit, changed it to black and white, and took off a few specks of “boy dust” as I call it off his face (aka DIRT).
This was such a fun shoot of a set of three brothers right here in St.Louis, MO. These are some of my favorite little guys. Check out the eyes on the oldest boy. Aren’t they amazing?!
Sometimes you just can’t get every kid in their best moment. (Did you notice the little one wasn’t quite so thrilled to be getting his photo taken.) The best thing you can do is just work with it. We tried a few breaks, but he was just tired. I actually gave the parents with a few crying shots. Why not? Kids do spend a lot of time crying. I am so glad I got some shots (one one shown here) of the mom soothing the little guy, which was not in the original plans.