3 Tips to Successfully Trick Your Kids Into Ace Photographs

Melbourne family photographer natural photographs

We’ve all been there. It’s a special occasion (cousin’s wedding, a first communion, someone’s birthday) and you’ve got the whole family looking spiffy… for once. No one has spaghetti sauce on their shirts, bright green snot running down their nose and somehow the meltdowns have been kept at bay (for now).

 It’s the absolute perfect time to get a decent and updated photograph of the kids together, but of course just say the words “Let’s take a photo” and everything falls apart: Johnny decides to take Billy’s toy, little Sarah wants mommy cuddles (only) and now everyone’s losing their sh*t.

 It’s painful, the whole thing. Dragging all the kids to a designated “picture” area as they reluctantly drop what they’re doing, fail to follow seemingly simple directions like “stand here” or “have a seat there” followed by having every adult in the room yelling out a different kid’s name from every direction while the kids are looking around extremely confused. And the reward for all of that? Looking through your photos only to realise that the closest you’ve gotten to a decent picture is having at least one kid either crying, looking away or picking their nose. “That’ll do.” Great job, everybody.

 Having been photographing families for a few years now, I’ve had my fair share of kids who were too amped up on sugar or decide to wage war on their siblings to know of this pain first hand. But I’m here to tell you… there is a way to get a decent picture. And in this case, three ways. You’re in luck! First and foremost:

 1.     Make a game of it. Name a child that doesn’t love games?! Sometimes what I do is tell the kids that we’re going to race. I line them up against a fence/wall/whatever is around and tell them to stand super close together (wink) and wait for my command. I then back away from them as much as necessary to fit them all in the frame and on the count of three, they race! The key here is to stall on the countdown for as long as possible. When you get them all lined up, ask them if they’re “Ready to go?!” very excitedly. Ask them if there’s a fairy on the camera. Ask them any series of silly questions you think will get a reaction and when you think you have a good shot, start the countdown and let them race. Repeat the game a few times-- they’ll love it until you get to about three to four turns, then they’ll want to move on.

2.     Au naturel. Whenever you see your kids enjoying themselves while calmly playing (with a doll, Lego, or puzzle for example) try to notice where the natural light in the room is coming from. Without interrupting their game too much, turn them and the game toward the light. Take a few photos while they’re happily playing and when you’ve got a few of those, ask a silly question that will direct their attention towards you. You can grab literally anything (a shoe, piece of string, a book), put it on your head (so they look in the direction of the camera) and ask if the object is a monkey. It can be something as boring as a pencil, but if you ask the kid if that pencil is a phone, they’ll crack up 9/10 times because they’ll think you’re some silly idiot who can’t tell apart a phone from a pencil. It works like a charm and when they start laughing, take the photo!

3.     Make it “Special.” It’s safe to say most kids love anything that is “special.” A random chair all of a sudden can be a “special princess chair” or a tree stump can be the “special stump where fairies live.” You slap the label “special” on anything and all of sudden it’s magical and full of wonder. “Fairies live HERE!?” and they’ll go right over and start inspecting it. This is your chance to get them all together and take the opportunity to give a little direction. You can say the fairies want them sitting on their bottoms and see how that goes. Once you’ve made a special occasion out of something, kids are a lot more likely to comply because they start thinking of it as a game (shout out to tip #1). 

 There you go. Three easy tips to get you on your way to taking better photos of your kids. 

These will require some experimenting with and trialling but you’ll get there-- just takes a bit of imagination and a playful approach. Basically, don’t even mention that it’s photo time to them, just get them where you want them casually and playfully and once they’re there, bust out some funny phrases, stories or games. Redirect their attention towards you and the camera via random prop or funny phrase and voila. No more pictures with forced smiles through clenched teeth!!

Join the conversation. Do you have any tips for getting kids to cooperate in photos? Share them with us in the comments. :)