Just look at that smile. You can't help but to smile along with him!
We love photographing children, they are entertaining, honest and wear their emotions on their sleeves. We are well rehearsed in children, Caitie has four, I have five and I have taught art in elementary school, preschool and special education for many years before I turned to photography full time.
It is our goal make your child comfortable and truly happy so we may capture your child's true self and personality.
Let's look at it from your toddler's perspective for a minute. He is more than likely visiting the beach for the first time. This is a whole other strange and new environment for him, all senses are on high alert and emotions are ramping up for all the fight/flight. This can be seen in many forms depending on the child. They can be shy, scared, nervous, anxious, or happy until they figure out what is going on in this new place. They will look to you to guide them, if you appear upset or stressed they will think 'uh-oh, mom is nervous, I should be too". Let's look at a few ways to help ease them into the situation so your session.
Start showing pictures and videos of the beach to get your child familiar with environment. A lot of children are amazed with the sand, they either love it and want to roll in it and eat it lol, or they're scared it will stick to them and never come off. Try putting some dirt in a bowl for your child to play with and get used to the idea that it's ok. If you know your child has tactile sensory issues and will not get in the sand let us know and we can be prepared with something for him/her to stand/sit on during the session.
Once we are at the session we won't have a lot of time to coax out natural smiles for each shot. So how do we get the little ones to understand the concept of smiling on command when there's nothing in particular to smile about? We have a few tricks but there are things you can do to help as well.
For babies it can be as simple as a sneeze. I couldn't tell you why but the majority of babies laugh so hard at someone sneezing! Bouncing on the hip, peek a boo, surprise expressions are all tried and true ways to get your baby to smile. Once you have found it, do it often enough to encourage smiles but not so much that you wear it out and be sure to let us know what it is!
With toddlers you can practice songs that make them happy. It could be from a favorite tv show or 'if you're happy and you know it give a smile!" and "If you're happy and you know pat your leg", that one will get their hands out of their face and in their lap.
Preschool children are just starting to understand the world around them and how they fit into it. This means they are in constant motion, we have to be quick! There are a few tricks I use that you can practice at home. One is, I will draw a circle in the sand and tell them that is their very own spot and we just have to stand in it and count to five. This gives me their attention for plenty of time to get the shot. Counting and visual timers are amazing tools to be utilized for many situations! Even as an adult if you put a time to anything you do not want to do it's so much easier to get through it. I save bribery for last. For one thing, it doesn't last long and I don't want to give away my secret weapon too soon. I keep a roll of Smarties on me because not only is there no saturated fat, very very little sugar (just 6 grams for a whole roll), they are also gluten, dairy, and peanut-free, according to the official website. It dissolves quickly enough for toddlers to not present a choking hazard, it does not leave candy trails on the face or hands and comes in rolls of 15 so it can be used more than once. I essentially buy their happiness and pay them to like me. "After every picture we get a Smartie!". I do of course ask for permission beforehand.
What do we do if they are just not having it? We distract them. Sandcastle, walking along the water, pulling a little sailboat etc. I will attempt to get your child happy but I would never force your child to do anything they were not comfortable with. I want them to have a good experience so future sessions will become a breeze!
If you have anymore tips or tricks for us let us know in the comments below!