So often parents barter, threaten, bribe, and demand that their child behaves in order to get that perfect picture, a real smile, to remember just how precious their child is at their particular stage of life. Yet, the idea of an upcoming portrait session often elicits anxiety, stress, and frustration from parents leaving children in tears and tantrums abound.
A local photographer who is a licensed social worker and child therapist as well offers a few strategies that will make your portrait session a more pleasant experience.
Give control to your child within limits. Everyone wants control, including children. Offering many choices before the session and during the session will allow your child to take ownership of the portraits and decrease those meltdowns. Always set limits but allow your child to have a choice within the limits. For example: “Emma, we are going to take your picture at the park. Do you want to go before your sister or after? Would you like to sit in the chair or lean against the wall? Would you like to wear your red dress or your blue skirt?
Back off! Children instinctively know when they are being manipulated, hovered over, or controlled. This often leads to two results: tantrums in an attempt to regain control or a performance for the parents (i.e. fake smiles or passive aggressive behavior). Neither leads to the results you desire. For older children, back off a few feet literally. Allow the photographer to interact with your child. Avoid saying “cheese” and related terms. Step in only when the photographer requires your assistance.
Be Prepared and Flexible. Bring along an extra outfit, your child’s favorite toy or blanket, water, and bite size snacks. Schedule your session when your child is most likely to be well rested and not hungry. Do not become frustrated when your child refuses to sit in the cute rocking chair the photographer brought along with them. Suggest some other playful options for your child and then return to the prop at the end of the session. The most natural poses happen when your child is able to play. If you are calm and relaxed your child often will be too.
If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact Katie Preuss, owner and photographer of Seek Joy Photography.
Seek Joy Photography provides artistic portraiture and wedding photography in Greenville, SC and surrounding areas. Katie Preuss is a licensed independent social worker (LISW-CP, MSW) and photographer.