Seeking advice from pro's

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by athomasimage, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. athomasimage

    athomasimage TPF Noob!

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    Occassionly I have young families in the studio for family portraits. Today a family has just left the studio. Mom and Dad brought a 7 yr old daughter and a 2-1/2 yr old son. Can you see where I'm going??

    The 2-1/2 year old boy was being a typical 2 year old. All he was interested in was running around the studio and see what he could get into. I have three 10 inch cube A-B-C letter blocks and some kids chairs. The blocks caught his attention for a little bit - then he was off again.

    We tried to use the "blocks" as props to get him interested and settled down. You probably already know it didn't work. Any attempt to get him settled and seated with Mom & Dad for pics brought out the squirming and crying.

    Finally, I suggested we call it quits. I suggested we reschedule a time more suited to his schedule (naps, eating and the like). I won't charge the couple for a 2nd sitting. I'm more interested in them telling their friends and family to come to my studio.

    So, my question(s) is what techniques are successfull for you when you work with kids like this? Do you use any special props for kids? I'd like to have more in my arsenal on their next visit. Any suggs??
     
  2. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Cherry Nyquil :D

    On a serious note, I'm not a pro photographer but I am a father of 3 and can say that if it's not working - don't force it, it will only get worse.

    If you tried the stuffed animals, funny faces, ball on the head stuff then you did exactly what you were supposed to - reschedule.
     
  3. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, as we all know, the kid is in control. Kids have bad days too, so the reschedule was the way to go.

    Now there is one "go to" trick that I save. It's based on the premise that kids absolutely love to see grown-ups screw up. So I take anything handy... a stuffed animal... heck.. I've even used a film box. Just anything really. I pretend to attempt to balance it on the edge of a chair, a pew, whatever, and as soon as I turn to go back to the camera, the darn thing falls! (Imagine that.) So.... I again make an attempt, and as soon as I turn, well... you see where this is going.

    The following series is from a recent wedding. You can see how quickly this trick can turn things around.

    -Pete

    [​IMG]
     
  4. athomasimage

    athomasimage TPF Noob!

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    How much Nyquil so the kid remains standing??
     
  5. athomasimage

    athomasimage TPF Noob!

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    Thanks - I like it!
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    With younger kids (babies & todlers) it can help to have a quiet, relaxing space for them to sit before it's photo time. There is one photographer (can't think of their name) who has a few special rooms just for this. They are very warm and cozy, helping the babies to fall asleep so they can be shot while sleeping like little angles.

    When a client calls about shooting portraits with kids...one of my first questions is 'When would be the best time for the kid(s)?'
    Now, of course...that's not always a possibility when you are trying to run a studio...but if the parents know that the kid is cranky right before nap time, or before lunch time...don't schedule the shoot for those times.

    Also, kids who are a little older, get a kick out of seeing some results. I can sometimes hold their attention better after showing them some shots on the camera's LCD screen.
    If I had a studio...I might even think about tethering the camera so that the shots come up on a screen for them to see. Let the kids make a few faces to see how funny they look...then get some good ones. Just an idea, anyway.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Two and a half year old kids love toy hammers, footballs, miniature basketballs, stuffed animals, peacock feathers, ostrich feathers, squeaky toys, clown noses, slinkies, and a whole host of other interesting-looking things.

    Youhavr to be interesting and tell the parents how to hep pose the kid while acting like a goofball on a kid like that. Position the little sister, then Dad, and then mom who has been holding the little boy. Before the session you did instruct the parents to to look at YOU, and not pay attention to the kids and their expressions, right? Once you have got the adults and the 7 year old in position, the 2.5 year old will follow your lead and watch you, so you need to keep the attention focused on you, who happens to be standing right near the lens.

    Big Mike has the right idea--the session needs to be tailored to the littlest child's nap time. One can shoot a family group like this very rapidly,and a small boy playing with ABC blocks can be shot in 5 to 10 minutes with the right approach. You need to have the camera framed and mounted on the tripod,framing the pose you are going to do, and then you "work" the kids a bit and shoot with a remote release in your hand,not looking through the camera.
     
  8. jess28

    jess28 TPF Noob!

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    I act like a five year old. I try to keep engaging with them and being silly enough to keep their attention, while not looking completely insane to everyone else. Another thing I have found helps a lot is one of those battery powered bubble machines. I set it up right behind me and they can't help but look in my direction to see the bubbles.
    Kid friendly music can also help, I've captured some really cute shots thanks to the world's most annoying Raffi CD.
    For a kid that is a little bit older (usually 4-6) I have them "help" me, telling the parents to sit closer together, making funny faces at them to get them to smile and things like that and get a few pictures of just the parents. Usually after that they are a little more willing to go sit still.
    Balloons are another big hit. I id an entire outdoor shoot with a helium balloon tied to my wrist that was promised to what soon became the world;s most cooperative 3yo boy at the end of the session. It was annoying, but really worked.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nyquil has nothing on 2 shots of tequila... lol

    Seriously, I would reschedule... BUT... I would tell the parents to not come from home to the studio. Take the kids to the park for a few hours, let them run and play... yeah, even get dirty, and THEN come back and do a 15 minute shoot after they are tuckered out and in a great mood after a few hours of family fun!

    Another thing is... BE READY. Know the lighting setups you want to use and set them up in advance (maybe even set up 2 separate lighting setups in 2 locations of the studio and skip them from one to the other quickly).

    You have to have the mentality of shooting a corporate giant when shooting kids... that mentality being to get the client in, get the shot and get them out faster than it takes to order a hamburger at McDonald's. Doing it fast, the energy is high, attention span short but there and the shots come out looking great.
     
  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    That has always been a problem for me, because I primarily shoot families in their homes. It's one of my selling points...I come to you. The problem is that it takes me 20 minutes to set up my 'studio' in their living room.
    I do try to use that to my advantage, getting to know the kids a little bit...but it can also go awry. I've had a couple shoots where the kids constantly bombard me with 'What's that?" every 10 seconds....and there are only so many clever/funny replies you can give them.
     
  11. jazzodin

    jazzodin TPF Noob!

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    I had the same problem before but was able to find something that works just about every time.I bought a dog toy at a dollar store ...you know the ones that squeak.Then I tore open the toy and grabbed the squeaker inside.Hide this squeaker in your hand and go around touching things and make it look like when ever you touch something it squeaks.Get the parents permission and then touch his or her tummy and you should see the look on there face when there tummy squeaks.The kids I've dealt with love it and I'm sure you'll get a few smiles.
    I also agree you did the right thing to reschedule.There is no point in trying to force it....you wont win
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Send them outside to tire themselves a bit, and then walk them into the room that is setup, and totally grabs their attention... start the 15 minute countdown. ;)
     

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