Archive for Children
You know all of those leaves and flower petals that fall off your stems as you use them? What do you do with them?
I don’t usually take the time to reset them or glue them back on. I toss loose pieces in a small bucket. They make great bits to scatter on the floor of a set for children.
These loose leaves add texture and interest to a normally flat backdrop floor.
This week a client brought in a bubble machine to use for part of the portrait session. This unit (from Target for about $10) really puts out the bubbles! I was so surprised with the volume of it could produce. I would recommend saving doing the bubbles as the grand finale of the photo session. Get some traditional portraits first then bring out the big fun. (Caution: when using indoors, bubbles do make the floor slippery.)
Who wouldn’t have fun throwing rose petals in the air? You can find all kinds of artificial rose petals in all sorts of colors in the wedding supply isle of a large hobby store. Invest in the more realistic ones. If you buy the cheap petals they photograph cheap. Since you can reuse them over and over, the price is worth it to get the more realistic kind. Picking up all of those petals is not my idea of fun but it is worth it. Fortunately this gal had a big sister to play photo assistant for me-she picked them up!
(c) 2012 Barb Gordon Photo Coach
The portrait I set up was this little girl drawing and painting. Mom and Dad had her do a few art pieces ahead of time so we had a more interesting, decorated scene rather than a lot of white paper.
One of her watercolors was most interesting to me so I took a photograph of it too. I just set it flat on the floor, and shot with my same light set up so it took only a matter of seconds.
During the photo session I took other photographs without the full scene to mix it up and hopefully sell other poses. One was perfect. I dropped out the background in Photoshop and replaced it with the girl’s own artwork. The result was pretty fun!
Many photographers do promotions that involve special props. Christmas decorations, chicks, bunnies, and lambs at Easter are popular themes. Although these themes might be eye catching and make great photographs, these same props may be hurting your sales.
When an image has only one specific use that is all you are going to get out of it.
For example, a family needs Christmas holiday portraits for their Christmas card. If your family group arrives in all red sweaters, or you have very Christmassy props, what do you think the chances are for this to become a wall portrait above the fireplace in their very neutral family room? No, it will only be purchased as a Christmas card.
What about spring specials using little chicks? You may find that the chicks are quite popular and book a lot of sessions but is this wall image possibilities? Will this client hang a very seasonal image on the wall? Yes, a few might but my advice is to take a few images with the chicks and a few images without. Show both to your client and see what happens. You may find your sales are actually better without the chicks even though the original draw was the chicks. It certainly won’t hurt to give that a try.
If it is possible to create a more neutral, timeless image you will find you will get more sales from that image.
PS – Be sure to check into your local laws, licenses, or guidelines about working with animals before you bring them into your studio. You might be surprised to find out there are restrictions and what they are.
Last week I shared about how I photograph the parents alone when I do a family group photograph. So what about photographing the children alone?
Even when I photograph just the parents, I don’t always photograph just the children. It might seem like the same good idea but sometimes it might not be.
First of all, they came for a family photograph and I am going to use all of my energy and theirs getting a great family portrait. Taking a couple of fast and easy images of two adults who probably never get their picture taken is one thing; dealing with kids is entirely different.
So whether or not I photograph the kids alone does depend a little bit on how much time we have, the age of the kids, how they are behaving, and if I have been photographing the children on other occasions or not.
Once I am sure I have a wonderful family image, I might revisit the idea of photographing the children. By then I know if the kids have any more energy left. After all, they are already dressed to coordinate and that is good stuff for a potential nice looking wall grouping.
I prefer a few quick images of each child alone than all the kids together. The posing will look a lot different from doing another group. Also when children are different ages, they respond to humor differently. It is often easier to get great expressions individually than as a group.
Here is a big tip! If the children are eight years old and up, this is your time to lay the foundation for those kids to want you for their senior portraits. So make it fun. I might use the fan to blow their hair “just like I do for high school senior gals.”
Working with three five year old boys full of energy and spunk is no easy task. These three amigos are best friends and they have not seen each other for a while as one now lives in Texas.
Although the point of this session was to capture a portrait for each of the families to have of the boys, every experienced photographer knows that “posing” is out. With the attention span of a puppy, kids force you to move more quickly, be down right silly, and not be too controlling.
The best advice I can offer is to add some fun and silly poses in between the more posed ones attempted. Not only does this break up the paying attention times, sometimes these fun shots turn out to showcase their personalities the best and become the selected image.
I am pretty sure the fangs are not going to be the wall portrait but it sure encouraged the boys to cooperate for the next shot.
Write down the funny things kids say during their photo sessions. Add these pearls to the images from the session and bam you have a post.
Just like Art Linkletter’s television show from the 60’s, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, children do say funny things at their photo sessions too. Tune into them and use their original material to spice up your blog posts.
This week my little seven year old friend started out her photo session a little uncharacteristically sour. Her mom said she just woke up that way. After a pep talk from her mom, she was able to turn her attitude around and we had a good time and we have wonderful images. She is a sweet child.
What I loved is how she summed up the session when we were done: “It ended up as a fiesta!”
Make sure you have the parent’s permission in the form of a model release before posting any images.
I know some photographers, for various reasons, are very uncomfortable photographing children. That can change quickly with today’s tip:
Don’t over coach them; they are brilliant all by themselves!
My favorite image of one of my recent sessions, shown here, just jumped out and grabbed me! It is definitely the money shot. Since he is a five year old, I could pose him just a little bit. All I asked this young fellow to do was put his elbows on the box, and he did the rest.
But if you overdo it and start giving a lot of directions you will lose their attention quickly. You definitely need to be ready to shoot or you will lose the precious moment. Have all of your lights metered,
Remember that moms are pretty excited and nervous about photo sessions. Of course they want everything to go well. Sometimes they are a great help to you by engaging the child in a wonderful discussion that creates all kinds of expressions. And sometimes they are a distraction to the child by over coaching or using negative feedback.
If a mom is interfering it is best to ask her (tactfully) to wait. I have even asked some parents to leave the room but you have to be really careful how you word that request.
The “money shot” is usually the very first picture or near the end once the child is warmed up. It is also a good idea to know when to quit. Quit on a good note and as soon as possible as to keep the experience a positive one.
Working with children and pets is extra challenging. One plus one does not equal two in this case, it is more work than that. Add in some excited parents and a session like this can be chaos. But it doesn’t have to be.
In this case the dog is a trained professional. He is my bischon, named Q, and he has come to the studio everyday since he was a pup. He has had a lot of practice. A few solo portrait sessions practicing sitting in a variety of chairs has prepared him for working with children.
If your pet of choice is not a trained professional you will just need to give them time to settle down. Give them time to become acclimated to the space and check it all out first, do not rush them. You do need to maintain a pack leader mentality at all times, do not befriend and baby the dog, you can be buddies after the photo shoot. I actually do not even pet the dog until we are done. If I do, they want to come to me and not stay in the picture.
This little boy does not have a dog, so I was not sure how he would be. So the first thing I did before I brought the dog out was to explain to him what was going to happen. I told Taylor how Q was going to start out very excited, jump on him, lick him and run around. I shared that once Q was calm, he would sit in a chair at the table with him and play. I asked Taylor if he was okay with that. This question is very important. Give the child some say in this, it builds their confidence and cooperation.
3-Use a Distraction
I had some toys for Taylor to play with so he did not have to think so much about the dog. I would discourage the use of food for either dog or boy. Food in many cases makes matters worse. They both did fantastic.
4-Be very Patient
Don’t worry how quickly you can make this picture happen. You may have to place the pet back in the scene a few times. Don’t allow the parent, child or yourself to get frustrated or mad at the pet. Remember the animal is in a new environment, doing something strange and unusual. They will settle in. I have done as many as seven dogs together. I have photographed three cats together. It can be done!
When you get the right distraction to keep them busy, be it toys, noises, or singing songs, it will happen. Just give it time.
I can’t wait for this little guy to get his own dog; he will be a terrific pal.
I just photographed a one year boy and his large birthday cake. You know boys, they are not as dainty as us girls. As soon as the little guy figured out what was going on, the cake was beginning to get moved all over the table.
The solution was a dab of “Collectors Hold Museum Putty”. I have used it often for securing glass vases to the counter top but not before today had I thought of having some in my camera room. This worked fabulous to hold a cake plate in place as the active little guy demolished his cake.
I also put a little under each leg of the table to keep it from scooting across the hardwood floor as he leaned on it. No more duct taping for me!
If you want to know where to get some putty:
Learn about all of my other tools and equipment I have in my studio in my “Photography Studio Must Haves” by clicking here.