Whenever I take my children for portraits I wonder why the camera is pointed at the kids when the real action is taking place on the other side of the camera. The parents are inevitably dancing around, singing songs, telling jokes, pulling tissues out of their ears and playing peekaboo. I think a video camera should be set up near the child pointing at his parents. This way in 30 years, we can show it to the grandchildren. “Here is a portrait of your Daddy when he was two and here the video of his parents, acting like complete idiots, in a desperate attempt to get him to give that gorgeous half smile.” Talk about preserving real memories.
Taking kids for portraits may be quite an experience, but as my children get older I really appreciate having those pictures. It’s hard to believe how little they once were. Pictures and videos taken at home don’t always have the same charm. There is something about dressing them up, with adorable accessories, and having a close of up taken of their adorable faces.
Here are some tried and true tips to make portrait day go a little easier.
- Make an appointment ahead of time. Yes, many places do take walk-in appointments, but you don’t want to spend a few hours getting ready only to find out they are overbooked.
- When making an appointment keep your child’s schedule in mind. You want to take the pictures when they are well rested and well fed.
- Feed them before you get them dressed so you can make sure their clothes stay neat and clean. Put a bib right away to protect their clothes.
- Be sure their clothes are comfortable. If they are itchy or stiff they will find it hard to smile.
- Practice taking pictures before hand. You don’t want them to freak out as soon as the photographer whips out the camera. Have them sit on a chair at home and you can practice with your camera. Tell them to smile when you “say cheese”.
- Dress yourself up in nice clothes. If she balks at taking pictures alone you can take some mom & me pictures. You’ll love those one day!
- Portraits should be the goal of the day. Don’t try to cram in a bunch of errands and come in all harried.
- Tell the photographer what type of portraits you are aiming for. This way if your child runs out of patience halfway through at least you got the shots you were looking for.
- Bring him a few minutes early so he has time to wander around and get comfortable with the place.
- Accessorize! There is nothing more adorable than a cute hat, sunglasses or adorable bangles. You’ll want to take some pictures without the accessories so you can have her full features as well.
- Share with the photographer your child’s likes and obsessions so she can make references to it as she snaps the pictures. “Yell Elmo!”
- Don’t yell at him to smile. It kind of has the opposite effect.
- If she refuses to sit still in that adorable wicker chair ask the photographer to take causal poses. You can try for more formal shots in a few months.
- Bring a lovey or favorite toy along. A picture with a ratty-old stuffed bear is better than no picture at all. Look at the bright side – you’ll have actual proof that your son carried a stuffed pig around for two years.
- Act crazy. We all do it. It makes them laugh.
- Outdoor pictures are great for toddlers who are scared of the studio. They are much more at ease and you can try for some adorable causal shots.
- If all fails take them home and try again in a few months. It pains me to say this, but sometimes we can’t always get what we want.
It may be exhausting but trust me – you’ll cherish these pictures for many years to come. Be sure to order extras to hand out to anyone you may know. They give you enough in those portrait packages for both grandparents, aunts, cousins and the guy at the cleaners. Remember to save a few for those inevitable school reports your little toddler will one day have to do. He will want a picture of himself as a baby and you will be able to show him just how well dressed and snappy he looked. Just don’t tell him how many hours was spent making sure he looked like that!