I am often asked by nurseries if I will photograph their children as an end of term event. I always love this challenge! I call it a challenge for two reasons – firstly, the children are all very young and don’t know me from Adam and secondly, the time in which to get a great shot is usually between 5 and 10 minutes per child! Add into this the unpredictable weather and you have a third challenge … So, how do I manage it? Well, I am always very flexible. I will spread the sessions over a couple of mornings so the children are used to me being around and to make sure I get to photograph everyone. I postpone if the weather is not favourable and I encourage younger (and older) sibling shots as I know parents treasure these!
Here are my top tips:
The children run the show!
This is by far the most important tip. Patience, patience, patience is required! I follow them around, chat to them, get down on their level, ask them about what they have been doing and smile! And only then, do I gently guide them into a natural pose and get my shots. If they don’t want to join in, that is absolutely fine – I simply let them watch the next child whilst ‘looking after something’ for me (like a lens cap) – this usually does the trick!
Natural light and environment.
The children will always be more comfortable outside in their own familiar environment and the photos will definitely be more beautiful with natural light. Apart from familiarity, there are lots of lovely props like trees, flowers and logs that can be used and ‘hunting for bugs’ can be a good distraction if needed! Some photographers set up a studio inside. This can be quite daunting for a child and who wants a passport style photo of their three year old anyway?
Get the children involved!
I have a little bag of toys which the children can choose to ‘take’ their photo for them! Monkey Pants is by far the favourite – a tiny monkey wearing orange pants! The toys have been known to hide in trees too. I show the children the photos and ask them which one they like the best. I occasionally (and always using the camera strap!) let them take a photo of something in the garden – they love this! I thank them for being a good model and a high five usually goes down well …
Ready, relaxed and flexible …
I have a few different ideas for poses. There is nothing more uncreative than 30 children all sitting looking the same in the same wooden chair. Have some sitting, moving, lying on their tummies, peeking out behind a tree or with their favourite toy. I always include a notebook and pen in my camera bag as well as a pack of water wipes (no chemicals, perfume) for milk moustaches and blobs of paint! I treat each child as though they are the first. Trying to get perfect shots one after the other can feel a little bit ‘conveyor belt’ so I have a break myself too! Relax and enjoy it – it’s not a wedding and you can always retake!
Finally, enjoy these little people! They come out with the funniest things and tell you all kinds of snippets of information! Good luck!