So, at the moment I’m writing my BlogOn presentation on how to shoot your children – or rather, how we can learn a few things and be photographing our children better. I’m so caught up over what to actually say in my 45 minute session, and so I decided to try some experiments of my own to see if I could prove the methods that I use myself to photograph our boys. In our family, Beans is only just three and he’ll do anything I need for a photo as he doesn’t yet have PCS [Photographer’s Child Syndrome]. The other two though….ahhh. Sometimes it’s hard, hard work – for everyone.
I used to think that the photos I wanted were of big, smiling faces of my boys, all stood together, facing the camera, eyes piercing through the canvas on the wall. In truth, sometimes I’d still like that – like a birthday portrait perhaps so that I can see every teeny detail of their faces as they grow, but mainly, it won’t work – for them or me. I’ve painfully discovered that this is because when I take these kind of photos, they tell me nothing and show me nothing about my child and who they are right in that moment. .
So I tried a little experiment. I shot a series of photos, 1-4 below. We were out at the beach in Brighton visiting their Aunty Ginny and Uncle Garth, and we’d been filling our bellies to bursting point at The Woods Burger Bar [this place is A-mazing, I had the biggest milkshake and most outrageously indulgent chicken waffle burger that I couldn’t eat all of there]. On the way back I decided to get a photo of them that I needed for a campaign I was working on. If you saw our Instagram here, they gave me a sweet photo that I could use for that purpose, but it wasn’t anything that would invoke a memory in a few years – or even months. The kind of photos which make me smile are those that I give little to no direction for.
Photographing our Boys:
Photo 1: Boys, can you stand here and here, mommy needs a photo of you. I want you to stand here, and you to stand here. You don’t have to look at me.
Photo 2: Yotie, can you think of something funny? Wait, who farted? Was it you? [sorry people, farts are very funny to all three of my boys – and their dad too, sadly…and, well, their Granny and Grandad too. I’m the only one who finds them disgusting.]
Photo 3: Gav tells Jensen he loves his collection of beach treasure and asks where he found the mermaid purse. On his face I can see a little twinkle in his eye and a sense of pride that daddy loves what he’s done.
Photo 4: I tell Yotie that he can leap into the sea, but it’s his choice – and he’ll be super soggy [again] walking home. He’s trying to work out whether I mean it, and whether he probably can get away with riding in Hero’s pushchair back to Uncle Garth’s house…then he leaps anyway, shoes and all *sob*.
If I’d asked Jens to leap into the water, or asked Yotie about a mermaid purse, the photos would have been pretty different, haha. But that’s what’s so fantastic about being able to take photographs of your own children – they’re yours; you know them inside and out, what makes them tick, what makes them laugh, the best times to avoid meltdowns – and when to call it a day. Use your insider knowledge to your advantage – it’s no good keeping your little one up all day because you’re desperate for golden hour photos in a field 45 minutes away if they’re going to fall asleep on the car journey, be woken up and get cranky.
Here’s the photo after I asked Yotie to look my way and try a little happiness [read: think of farting]…
…and here’s the photo of Jensen, who’s engaged with looking at the mermaid’s purse he spotted on the shore – and below that, Yotie when I’ve said that he can jump into the sea if he truly wants to [he always wants to]. See the difference? THOSE are my boys. The boys in the photos above here are empty, and so are the photos.
Think about what’s going to bring a smile to your little ones’ faces – and use it to your advantage.