Going Beyond "Cheese"

In order to photograph kids in a way that showcases their personalities and creates a positive experience,  there’s a lot of purposeful interaction and choices I make throughout a shoot to ensure my energy and engagement meets each individual child’s needs. They are all different and unique after all, and I never want a child to feel uncomfortable or scared during their shoot with me.

Tricks from my Toolbox

Today, I wanted to share this fun little trick that works wonders for energetic kiddos, especially if they’re loosing interest or not really engaging.

C was so excited by all the stimulation around him on the downtown mall the morning of our shoot and while he was interested participating, he was also a master of the “freeze and cheese”— otherwise known as the position kids are conditioned to assume whenever a camera is present.

This is the before pic of what happened when I just said "Hey C, let's stand over here and get a picture of just you!"  

He's obviously an adorable kiddo, but this expression is so not him! I wanted something a little more natural to say the least, so I set up on a spot, adjusted my framing and composition, then asked C to come stand right in front of me for a little game.

When he did, I squatted down to his level and said quietly,

“Ok C, why don’t you race to that tree and back to this spot (pointing to a place on the bricks) and I’ll time you!”

He was pumped. When I yelled "ready....go", he bolted over to the tree and back, freezing in the perfect spot with a big ole natural smile on his adorable face. Bonus: Keep shooting after the moment has past- the one on the right is a few moments later as he was catching his breath. :-) 

It took him four seconds. And we got awesome pictures of a four-year old in the meantime. 

This is just a tiny little trick, but when used with the right kids, it's a home-run. 

Try it next time you have a distracted or energetic kiddo on your hands and want to capture an authentic and lively shot in the moment!


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