"I just want one nice picture of my kid!" - A How To
Have you ever thought to yourself, "I just want ONE nice picture of my kid!" Chances are that thought has passed through your mind at least a dozen times this month. Welcome to the club. We all have thought that to ourselves, including me. Believe it or not my five year old is totally unimpressed that people pay me money to take their pictures. He does not like to sit still or give me a nice smile, just like your kids.
I have tackled this topic before on my blog in different ways here and here. Today we will be talking about how to get them to stop for a moment at the park and catch a few sweet pictures. Many of the rules are the same as my prior blog post Small Miracles: How to get a three year old boy to smile for the camera.
However, we are going to modify and add a few steps to help us in the outdoor setting. Here is a scenario where you take your little one(s) to your favorite local park.
1) Do not immediately go for the gold and try to snap your pictures. Your kids just go to the park to play. Let them check it out for 10-15 minutes before asking them to sit still for a picture.
2) Tell them your expectation to take a nice photo before getting out of the car. I use this technique in parenting in general. I tell my kids they are expected to "sit quietly and listen" every week before we go to church. We also tell them before going into restauraunts, "You only get one bathroom trip. Use it wisely." I find most kids if given expectations beforehand do pretty well with them 90% of the time. Tell your kids before you exit the car, "After we play at the park for ten minutes, Mommy is going to take a few nice pictures of you and then I will push you on the swing as a thank you for going something I want to do." If they do not sit for a moment, do not push them on the swing. Try this technique next time. If expectations are new, they might need a few tries to understand.
3) Have they recently snacked? It is amazing how blood sugar levels can make or break your attempt. Make sure they are not almost in need of a snack or give them a snack before the shoot.
4) Know where you want take the picture. Is there a cool tree or a rock you want them to sit by? Think through this step before you have them stop playing.
4a) When looking for a place to snap a picture during the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky, find open shade!
5) Have them sit! Kids are constantly moving and you will buy yourself some more time. Ask them to sit for a picture rather than stand still.
6) Make it a game. There are lots of ways to do this. One of my favorites is "crazy face/nice face." Have them make a silly face and take a picture. Then ask them to smile nicely. Then ask for a surprised face. Then a nice face. Then an angry face...you get the idea. My kids love this and always ask to see the pictures afterward. If their smile is forced, show them the photos and ask them for their real smile. It works quite often for me.
7) Know when to give up and try another day. If it becomes stressful, table it and try next time. If you always get angry or disappointed when you take their picture, of course they will not want to do this activity with you.
Now for some examples:
This is a the first photo I snapped before moving him to "the shoot location." Notice I found some shade to work with. I also laughed when he stuck his tongue out rather then getting mad so he would want to work with me in a moment when I was going for a nice picture.
The next two were in my "chosen spot." It was a nice rock to sit on under a tree with some good open shade. I told him, "Taking pictures is how Mommy has fun. Please sit nicely and smiles for two minutes. Then I will push you on the zip line as a thank you for giving Mommy a turn." Make sure you truly only spend a few minutes doing this or they will not believe you next time.
Here he is playing on the zip line!
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