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Quick! Get the Camera
© 2006 Kenneth Hoffman Articles available with limited rights for distribution upon written email approval. A link back to this site is a requirement. Contact Ken for permission.
Every Mom and Pop with a camera takes more pictures of their kids than of anything else. Why? The reason in that they love to look at their cute little faces and record for all time how great they are. The only trouble is that when that moment comes, the children wonít cooperate.
Itís not that children donít like having their picture taken, itís just that no child can sit still for more than a few minutes. Letís assume youíve place the children in a perfect setting: one sitting on the floor, one on the stool and another kneeling, sitting on his heels.
A favorite tool of mine is a replica of a TV character the children are all familiar with. Elmo, Tinky Winky, or Big Bird will do. This TV friend will hold their attention long enough for you to get a good shot with all eyes toward the toy. Anticipation is the key to keeping their attention and their expressions lively.
In order to get babies to smile, they have to see your face close up. Small mouth noises in conjunction with peek-a-bee games and seeing you smile will work most of the time. If all efforts fail, a milk break will often put them in a good mood. Two-year-olds are in a class by themselves. NO amount of ordering, threatening,, or pleading will make them do anything they donít want to do.
If a toddler catches on to what you want them to do, that is the very thing he or she WONíT do. The secret is to play a with them a game in which the child is the one with the power. Watch for any action on his part that you can react to. If the child stamps his feet, you suddenly act out a scene where your finger got stamped on. The very thought of his Ďenemyí being hurt fills his little heart with joy. Forgotten are the tantrums in hopes of it happening again. Repetition plays an important part in anticipation.
Children of three and four are shy. They love to laugh but they never want to be the first one. They respond well to questions about their activities, allowing them to receive some welcome praise. Situations that seem humorous to the four year old involve other people being embarrassed, slapstick humor, and odd mouth noises. They also love it when an adult gets hurt: smashed fingers (make believe), knocked heads, or things that go wrong.
With all this cutting up, a wise photographer will slow down the pace if it gets too wild. A little adult conversation (one sentence or two) will throw a mental bucket of water on their shenanigans. Older children wonít fall for the slapstick comedy. Real respect for their intelligence is a good way to break the ice and get them to let down their defenses. The only thing that they think is worth laughing at is when their siblings are in trouble. On the other hand, if you ask them to help you out by stamding behind their brother or sister, they will usually comply.
An older child hates to be the center of attention, so use their natural rivalry to create a comedic situation. If thy balk at touching their siblingís shoulder in the picture, a little flattery of how much they take care of their younger sister or brother will do the trick. Remember that facial expression is ninety per cent of a good picture.