How to Hopefully Take Great Pictures of Your Own Kids | Halifax Nova Scotia Children’s Photographer

Although I love candid pictures of my kids, sometimes I want a picture that’s a little more formal for the wall or hand out to grandparents.  However, that’s not always easy to do. Often, people think that when you’re a photographer, taking great pictures of your own kids comes naturally. This may give me a bit of an edge because I do it more often, but sometimes, being a photographer just makes taking pictures of your own kids worse.  See, I can be a perfectionist when it comes to posed pictures. I know what I’m after, and it’s very frustrating when I feel like my boys aren’t making it happen.  When I’m taking pictures of someone else’s children I can almost always get a nice, natural smile or expression, but if I so much as whisper “Picture Day” to my own, their memories of past experiences result in groans and gnashing of teeth the likes of which aren’t often witnessed in pre-apocalyptic times.

With all this in mind, here are some things I’ve learned that I thought I’d pass along:

 

 

cool preteen boy

1. Bribery works.  Period. Especially when you have a kid or two who would much rather be doing something else. Taking nice pictures of my kids is usually a once or twice a year thing and it’s worth it to me to make it worth it to them.  Tell them what’s expected of them, pick something that your children want and use it to your advantage.  For my kids, money talks, and so I pay my kids to be in pictures.  I don’t pay them a lot, mind you – usually just $2 or $3 – but if they complain it’s not enough, I just remind them that, as their mom, I could just MAKE them do it for free.

kid acting cool web

2.  Relax.  Once you’ve established what’s expected of your kids and what the reward is, relax.  If you’re constantly getting in their faces, fixing their hair, telling them to smile and getting frustrated when they don’t do it “right”, they’re going to get uptight, and feed off your frustration.  And when everyone is angry and/or crying, the pictures just aren’t as pretty.

 

happy child outside web

3.  Engage.  If you’re taking pictures of your own kids, don’t use “Say Cheese!”.  You’ll get a much better response if you talk or sing or tell jokes while you’re behind the camera. Once you see that look that’s your child at her best, snap it. And, if you need to pull in another family member or friend to stand behind you and make your kid giggle, then go for it.  In our family, few people can make my boys laugh for pictures like their brothers.

brothers laughing web

4. Let it go.  Some details are important, some aren’t – figure what hill is worth dying on.  For me, in the case of these pictures, sometimes it was about letting my 10-year-old pick out his own shirt.  Yes, I knew it wouldn’t match anything else that his siblings were wearing since it had giant neon stripes on it, but he was a lot happier about pictures wearing something he picked out. Sure, in 20 years his kids would make fun of him for his choice, but that just made it sweeter for me.

silly brothers web

5. Know when enough is enough.  I really wanted a great picture of all three of my boys smiling at me, but we’d been at it a while and the novelty had long since worn off.  I knew I already had great pictures of each of them individually and some of them together laughing.  They were tired, I was far from relaxed and we all wanted to be done and go home, so I decided to call it a day.  We never did get the last picture I wanted, but we did get this one.  I’d say that I definitely got my six bucks’ worth.

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Boy vs. Mud Puddle | Halifax Children’s Photographer

all boy

I have this boy who absolutely loves anything that sparks of adventure or danger, whether it’s climbing to the very top of the playground equipment, skiing on the biggest hill allowed, or biking through the deepest mud puddle he can find.  So, when we came across just such a puddle on a bike ride after a rainstorm one day, he was dying to speed through it. Since I know his propensity for dirt and excitement, and since I happened to have my camera with me, I happily let him.  He wasn’t thrilled to hit the shower to get the dirt off when he got home, but he had a pretty great time getting messy in the first place.

I-Heart-Faces-button

This photo was entered into the I Heart Faces photo challenge – www.iheartfaces.com

 

Sometimes They DO Get Along…

boys laughing togetherI have these three boys that I adore.  As with most brothers, there are times they fight so much that I’m certain the neighbors must think we’re harboring noisy terrorists.  But there are times when they get along.  This was one of those times.  In fact, at this point in our day, they were united against ME, being as silly as possible and having a great time with each other, rather than just posing for the original picture I wanted.  I did eventually get a shot of them all looking at the camera, but I’m pretty certain that I like this one more.  It’s of my boys at their best.  What mom wouldn’t love it?

This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge – www.iheartfaces.com

My Boys Playing Ball | Halifax Children’s Photographer

football fan

little tough guy

little boy runningplaying football_1boy playing football_2brothers playing football togetherrunning with the ball_2

brothers walking together_1

Even though you can’t tell to look outside at our snow-covered ground, we had a couple of days back in January that were about 10 degrees Celsius.   My oldest got a new football for Christmas and, as it had not yet been tried, my boys decided to put the ball through its paces.  I know there’s a lot of pictures there, but I loved the looks of determination on the faces of my boys, the smiles they  had as they played together, and (as a photographer) how their clothes stood out against the winter wet.  It was one of those rare moments when they all got along and had fun. And I even have proof that it happened.

Capturing the Moment

father and son web_2

One of the things I love about being a photographer is catching a moment that beautifully shows people as they really are.  It means going beyond the “Everyone!  Look here and say, ‘Cheese!'” moments and looking for a way to capture the feeling and the personality of those I photograph.  This was one of those times.  Our family picnicked at the park with this family.  The kids could barely eat, they were so excited to play together.  Then, in the middle of it all, this boy came over for a quiet moment with his dad.  I turned, saw it and snapped the picture as quickly as I could. I love the relaxed pose: dad’s hand on his son’s shoulder, the boy leaning into dad, and the quiet connection it shows.  Other people there don’t even remember when this took place.  But it did.  And I’m glad I caught it.

This photo was submitted to the I Heart Faces photo challenge – www.iheartfaces.com

Sticks and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails, Growing Up

brothers storyboard_1three brothers outside web_1

brothers laughing web_1

three brothers web_2

 

So I have a hunch that my boys are growing up.  This hunch was verified even more when I looked at my Sticks and Snails post from almost three years ago.  The pictures in this post were taken late this past fall and I love to see how my little boys are getting bigger and getting along.  The former just keeps happening whether I like it or not.  And the latter, well, that all depends on the day, but the glimpses I see in these pictures give me hope.

 

At the Skate Park

skate park tough guy web

little boy at skate park web

boy on skateboard_1

practice jump web

skate board ramp web

I have this little boy who hasn’t met a challenge he wouldn’t try.  To him, it’s not a matter of if something can be done, but how.  So, when he decided he wanted to try skateboarding, we headed off to the park to give it a shot. The fact that he’s not quite there yet really doesn’t matter.  He will be.  That’s just who he is.

Stuck in the Middle

My last post featured my oldest son.  I just came across this picture of number two and fell in love with it.  I took it when they were all dressed up for church on a warm spring day.  The first few pictures I took of him that day were ones that I posed, but this silly one is the one I like the most.  It’s so him.  Off-the-wall, totally unique and ready to have fun.  He’s mischievous, funny, and up for any challenge I can throw at him.  He may be stuck in the middle of his brothers, but that’s not going to hold him back from anything.

They’ll model…for a fee…

There’s a funny thing that I’ve noticed when I photograph someone else’s children.  If they aren’t totally cooperating or are downright against having their picture taken, I’ll patiently ride it out and eventually coax a smile out of them.  I don’t think I’ve had a session yet where we didn’t end up with a couple “happy” pictures.  With my boys, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.  I’m afraid that, on occasion, my patience has been lacking and the stress for all of us has made happy pictures difficult from time to time.  So now, I’ll admit it:  I bribe them.  If I want family or individual pictures done, I offer compensation for their time and good attitudes.  Do I do this in every situation?  No.  Do I recommend this to everyone?  Not necessarily.  Has it worked up to this point? Ummm, yes.  And so, I’ll shall continue.  …at least where pictures are concerned…

Presidential Hopeful

When I read that this week’s theme for I Heart Faces.com was by the book, I was torn between two different photos.

I love this one, though.  While no one would believe it, the props in the picture were not my choice.  When given a chance to pick what he wanted to have, my son got the library books he had just taken out.  You see, he wants to be president someday.  He can tell you just about any fact you may want to know about past presidents (because of him, I know that John Tyler was playing marbles with his kids when he found out he had become President) and he can name every state on the map and its relation to another without even looking at a map.  This is probably because he studies the US map he asked for as a birthday present when he goes to sleep.  Yes, I’m bragging, but I’ve got a reason to.  I’m darn proud of this boy.  And he would make a great president someday.  Plus, he’s got big plans to abolish vegetables in the White House.  That’s a campaign promise I can go for.

This photo was entered into the I Heart Faces photo challenge – www.iheartfaces.com

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