Beyond The Wanderlust » Inspirational Photography Blog for Storytellers Worldwide

Cream n Cocoa Photography | How to Get Great Shots with Groups of Children | Beyond the Wanderlust Guest Post

Jackie Rohling Baughman
Cream n Cocoa Photography
West Chester, Ohio

Catching that coveted moment when kiddos are smiling and looking in a group shot can sometimes be as elusive as finding the Holy Grail. As photographers, most of us enjoy capturing a variety of family interaction shots but, if you are like me, you probably try to capture at least one nice posed family shot in which everyone is looking and hopefully smiling (genuinely) at the camera. This can be TOUGH when you are dealing with little ones!!! After almost four years, I’ve managed to develop some strategies that work a good deal of the time. Of course, there will be times when you have a kiddo that just won’t cooperate, but I find these techniques help even with some of the most challenging little ones!

1. Always, always, always do group shots first!!!! Save the candids and individuals for later. You are most likely to capture a decent group shot when the kids are fresh and interested in what’s happening. Usually the first 5 minutes of the shoot is your best opportunity.

2. Bring Smarties. Of course, consult with parents to make sure they are OK with the child having a small bit of candy but Smarties make ideal treats because they are small and don’t make a mess. If candy is not an option, sometimes the parent can recommend raisins or another small “treat” that would be good. I find it’s better that this treat comes from the photographer than the parents too! You automatically become “cool” with kids when you provide a small treat. Often times, I will mention that I have a treat if the children are good listeners and as soon as the group shot is done I will give them 1-2 Smarties (not the whole pack). Then throughout the shoot, I keep giving small bits of treat to keep them interested and engaged.

3. Play with them! When I am helping the kids get arranged for a group shot, I mention that we are going to play a game and then have a little treat. Also, try to have your camera set and ready to go before you begin arranging everyone. Once I am ready to go, we begin the game. I ask the kids to wake me up if I fall asleep by saying, “Now if I fall asleep, will you wake me up by saying BOO?” Sometimes the child is shy, and I will ask the parents to help out and yell BOO first few times. I proceed to pretend to fall asleep by hanging my head and fake snoring. As soon as the child or parent yells BOO, then I wake up very surprised with a funny face and then snap the shot. I cannot tell you how many times this has broken the ice with a child – usually they think it’s super funny. You do have to be convincing and animated, but it helps me get the real smiles plus the children will be looking RIGHT AT YOU!!!

4. If parents are not involved in the shot, you can also ask the kids to tell you if mom or dad is going to tickle you and then have them pretend to sneak up behind you. Many times this will work as well plus sometimes very small ones will react better to their parents than a stranger!
As a photographer, you have to adapt your techniques to every situation but in general hopefully these are tips that will you get those kiddos happy and smiling!!!


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