I often get asked about what to do if kids are in a bad mood when having their photo taken so I thought I’d put a few thoughts down on paper. I hope this article will help you feel calm and look forward to your shoot, even if your little one has woken up on the wrong side of the bed!
Should I call to reschedule?
No! Definitely do not do this. It’s absolutely part of my job to get your kid to relax and have fun with me. There’s absolutely zero use sitting in your house feeling miserable. As well as your little devil driving you mad, you’ll have cancelled something you were looking forward to enjoying with your family. I have seen plenty of children turn up irritable. It’s often because they’ve slept in the car and didn’t want to be woken or only wanted to watch Hey Duggee and the caterpillar badge for the 18millionth time (yes, this is my son!) but often it’s for any of the other thousand irrational child reasons. Fret not, we WILL have fun and we will win your kid round together.
What about bribery?
Well, it does often work if you are desperate for a photo with all of you sat looking at the camera, but some gentle words on whipping out the chocolate buttons. Kids have short attention spans and the promise of an ice-cream at the end of the shoot often leads to a tantrum when the end isn’t right in sight. So if you fancy offering a treat then try to leave them till nearer the end of the shoot. Plus don’t forget the bizarre ability children have to get impossibly filthy in a split second!
Because the shoot will be really relaxed and natural anyway we’re not really looking for lots of posing or forced smiles. It’s really easy to get those natural grins and happy faces while we’re mid-activity or just hanging out having fun. But rest assured, if you bring out the bribes, I’ll be there to capture it, whichever (sticky!) way it ends up!
OK, great, but they’re still in a really bad mood!
Yeah, we all have days like this, don’t we? I’ve never photographed a kid that wouldn’t come round eventually. Plus I have the patience and time to wait it out. That being said, please do set up a photo session with me if you’re convinced your kid can out-grump my enthusiasm!! However, in the meantime lean into the bad mood. I know that you want photos of your kids looking happy, but actually I love the grumpy photos too. Soon enough your baby won’t be sad about the little things like they are at the moment. Maybe these photos will become ones you cherish just as much as the happy grins?
What to try and avoid
Firstly, (I get how impossible this advice is being a Mum myself!) try to stay calm and upbeat. There is nothing as tempting as descending into a full on frustrated shout or joining them in an arm-flinging tantrum when they are pushing your buttons. However, this will feed their strop! So, take yourself off, take a few deep breathes and remind yourself that they are only acting up because they subconsciously know that you really wanted today to be fun and go smoothly! Seriously, how do kids know this?!
During the shoot, if you want to get them to dispense with the ratty bunny toy or filthy piece of stick they can’t live without, then let me see if I can do it. Most kids are more amenable to requests from a non-parent and this usually makes it easier for me to “borrow” the stick or have bunny “help” me take their photo.
Another good idea is to let me figure out when to try for some portraits as opposed to documentary photos. Often there is a natural flow to these things and being asked to do what they don’t want to results in epic tantrums and complete non-cooperation! In a similar vein, if you kid insists on wearing a tutu or a cape (and you really don’t want them to) it’s usually easier to just let them get on with it. We’ll get photos of what they want and I’ll even give them a cheeky sneak peek on the camera, then we can get them wearing or doing what you had in mind. Everyone wins!
The benefit of documentary shoots
It’s one of the biggest benefits of booking a photographer with a more relaxed approach to photographing your family… the tears and tantrums just slip right in to the patchwork of our time together. They sit right next to the giggles and grins and all together really do create a wonderful album of photos of that slice of time in your family’s life. So if your kid is in a bad mood, turn up anyway, feel positive that you’ll leave your shoot happy and rest assured that we’ll turn that frown upside down!