Last year for Christmas, I decided to do some really nice photos of my kids, nieces and nephew for my mom for Christmas. It doubled as presents for my sister, cousin and brother as well. And guess what? It only cost some time, minimal costs for clothes for the kids (most of which they had or we thrifted) and a few bucks for printing the photos. All in all a very cost effective and memorable gift. And you can do it too! Here are some tips:
1. Wardrobe Planning
We went really simple, which I recommend. All the kids wore a variation of blue for a top (we were trying to go a gradient/ombre route . . . it didn't really turn out that way) and black bottoms. It's pretty universal at this point, but having some kind of theme or unity to your photos gives them a better feel. It is more pleasing to the eye and generally makes them look a lot nicer. Choosing blue was complimentary in our specific circumstances as well--just look at how my niece's beautiful blue eyes pop against their tops!
2. Time of Day is Crucial
Not only is this a huge factor photography-wise (there is a slew of online resources about timing and lighting for photography should you be interested in researching it), but with kids especially. Naps, hunger and general attitude all come into play with kids. This is especially true the younger they are. For us, we went at around 10 in the morning. This gave us decent lighting with the sunlight, it was not too close to lunch to where the kids were starved and it was not too close to nap time to where the babies were cranky. Plus we could bribe them with candy with little restraint or remorse. I fully endorse this tactic.
Props are fun for kids and they also help maintain focus and can give your photos some fun individuality. These dry erase boards were bought at the dollar store. The kids got to write, in their own way, their birth order on them. It was great and the only draw back was my brother-in-law and sister getting themselves in the picture, but safety first! They had to make sure the babies didn't fall off of the steps. Note to self and tip to you--make sure that your assistants dress in all black so that they are harder to spot and easier to edit out. Ahem! DION!
4. Perfectionism Does Not Play Well with Children
You are going to tire yourself and the kids out if you wait until ALL the kids are looking at the camera or not blinking or smiling. The picture above is a good example--it is so cute! And the leaves are falling down perfectly and most of the girls are smiling and looking at the camera. The girls were having so much fun in the leaves--even if Lara was not looking, I love this photo.
5. Silly Poses
Whenever I feel the kids starting to get bored--which you might not believe it, happens very early on in shooting--I like to elicit the "silly pose first" rule. I let the kids first do a silly post and then we can do a serious, smiling one. You never know, you could end up liking the silly pose better than the serious one.
7. Let their Personalities Shine
The whole reason for capturing photos is because you love the people, in this case kids, that you are photographing, amiright? So if the boys want to take photos while flexing, let them! If they want to stand on the edge of a wall so that they can jump off of it--whatever! When you let the kids have fun, they will smile more and be more themselves and you will get the best photos.