Photographers are circus ringmasters. We are light on our feet, juggling your chaos and our creativity…adapting to whatever your kids throw at us. As we consider our settings and creatively frame each shot, we’re engaging you and your kids in ways that will put you at ease and earn us (er, you) genuine emotion.
It’s not unusual for me to be holding a little friend’s hand for half a session or taking shots with them in my lap or on my back. Connecting with your kids is one of my favorite parts of my job. Getting them to connect with YOU is strangely harder. I’m novel; you’re not. Or maybe we’ve been having too much fun and it’s hard to settle their little bodies!
Moms and dads often also feel awkward together. It’s perfectly natural! They’ve had a hectic few hours getting the family dressed and out the door. Maybe there was an argument on the drive to meet me, and even if there wasn’t, what should feel normal about two grown adults standing in a field staring into each other’s eyes?
In my 10 years of photographing and filming families, I can tell you that fun-filled laughing shots are low-hanging fruit. Quiet, connected shots are a reach…a reach I’m willing to strain and risk falling for.
Driving to a session 7 years ago, I was feeling disgruntled. There was a tenderness and connectedness I longed for in my sessions, and my most recent clients weren’t “delivering.” Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s not the parent’s job to be relaxed and at ease for me. It’s not the kid’s job to stop running around long enough to love on their mom or dad. It’s MY job to woo them there. I literally pulled the car over and jotted down conversational prompts…and have used them every session since. These are just a handful in my arsenal, but photographer friends, I hope they help achieve the moments your camera craves and your clients’ hearts need to see.
Keep reading for 9 of my most tried-and-true prompts for beautiful connection in your photos and videos!
“Tell your daughter/son/kids what makes you so proud of them.”
or “Tell them what it was like seeing them for the first time.”
“Show me what it looks like to hold your child and freeze time.”
“If mommy/daddy were going away for a few days with her/his friends, how would you say goodbye?”
“Tell your spouse what you still find sexy about them. I’ll be waaaay over here.”
or “Think of one of the many reasons you married your spouse, then hold each other and stay there. After a few seconds, tell each other what it was!”
“Whisper one thing you love about your brother/sister in their ear…” (Usually lands me a laughing shot instead!)
“How do you show love to your brother/sister?”
or “How old are you? I want you to hug your brother/sister for that many seconds.” (Teenagers love this one!)
“If you could re-live one day together as a family, which one would it be, and why?”
Name alliteration: “Mom and dad, take each child’s first initial and pair it with a word that describes a strength of theirs.”
Last resort: “Mommies need lots of hugs. I have magic glue in my bag to glue you to her lap. Do you think it will work?”