I've been in business for almost 8 years, and I'd like to teach you how to make sure we get authentic smiles from your kids - without having to bribe them.
First, I'm going to say something that you may or may not agree with: Authentic smiles don't always have to show teeth. Actually, if we want to be real - smiles come from your eyes, not your mouth. You can see it in the two pictures above - the little boy
(1 years old) is highly amused with me; and the girl (about 10) is completely content and quietly confident. The smiles are present, but not as obvious... still, these pictures are showing a different side to their personality. They are real kids, showing their real personalities.
Second, they don't always have to be looking at the camera, for the picture to be a GREAT photo. Especially when siblings involved... when they are naturally interacting with each other - delighting in each other's presence - that can be more valuable than when they are perfectly posed (not looking natural at all).
My repeat clients know something that my new clients don't - so I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When it comes to working with kids, I become a big little kid - with a big personality. I have no shame about making the weirdest noises - I can alter my voice to sound like a 3 year old, sound like an alien spaceship, I can sing out of tune in a southern accent (and have a character to go along with most of the voices), I can meow like a cat... and so much more.
I make up the most random stories - about squirrel ninjas and transformers and faeries... and I don't care if the adults think I'm crazy... because I will capture the most authentic smiles and personalities from your tiny humans. I will do anything to get the real smiles and real personalities, even if it means making a fool of myself.
My sessions start very relaxed; and in the beginning, I let the kids be in charge - I make them my "art director". I tell stories, and play games... and I run a lot. Because when your kids are having fun... it will show up in the pictures.
Unfortunately, in writing this article, I realized that I'm guilty of trying to get my mom and my aunt (mom's sister) to smile on cue - even though they are adults, they don't naturally smile for pictures. And when we (my siblings and I) sternly tell them to "smile! No, smile for real" - it's just as hard for adults to smile genuinely as it is for kids. Instead, tell a funny story, tell a memory, sing a song or say something worth laughing at. In a future blog post, I'll share my top go-to strategies to get kids to smile AND look at me in photos.
So, if you are looking for everyone to be posed just so, with everyone looking in the same direction at the same time - with perfectly crafted smiles that will all happen on cue...in about 30-45 min. I'm sorry, but I'm not your photographer. For the parent that wants to stand behind me and constantly beg their kid(s) to smile a "real smile"... and do so by threatening to take away a promised treat for "behaving". I'm not your photographer. My sessions aren't like that; as you can see, I still get the photos that show off your kids and family - I just do it through play.
At the end of a session, my biggest compliment is from the kids - when I get an impromptu hug from the kids (if they are younger) then I know that I did a great job... More than just the photos, your kids will cherish the experience as much as you cherish the photos. That's the kind of photographer that I am.
I will take the time to make sure your kid(s) feel special and listened to. You won't have to bribe them to behave, nor will you have to ask them to smile... because they'll be having so much fun that we'll get their real smiles and their real personalities. And yes, I'll still get that awesome family photo. It may not be "perfect" but it will represent your family at this stage in your family's life. Meaning, why would we want kids to play a different part than who they really are - the imperfect pictures are how we best remember these fleeting life stages.
To say that I have an active imagination is an understatement. Most adults left behind the world of playing pretend for a more "serious" outlook on life... but I am one of the rare ones that chose to keep my imagination active and ready for any given moment. My imagination has it's own air space and zip code. It is bigger than most adults can fathom; I was once locked in a room with (50) 5 years old and I calmed the natives with just a simple improv story told in a made up voice. But for anyone that knows my mother, they wouldn't be that surprised... everything I am is a direct reflection of her.
I like to tell people that I'm a "mover and a shaker" - it means that I will get things done when things need to get done. I learned that from mom. She and I grew to have a reputation of re-arranging the furniture in the house whenever my dad would leave for a long weekend. It was a can-do attitude combined with a need for change. To this day, I still like to rearrange my furniture about once every 6 months. It's funny how it refreshes your mind and puts everyday life into a new perspective.
My best memories from our childhood, is how many songs she would improv in order to get us to do something - or learn something. She was/is always making up songs... my sister and I laugh, because we have both inherited this trait, constantly humming a tune - whether real or made-up in the moment - that comes directly from Mom. (Yes, I'll share some of these to come).
In 2016, my mom asked that I take her to some of my favorite places in Columbus. Places that she had never visited - so we went to the Columbus Museum of Art and Franklin Park Conservatory. We took a picture together to commemorate the experience. (It was one of those pictures that was a bit of a wakeup call... I hadn't realized how big I had gotten. It helped spur the action of getting a trainer). The next year she wanted to go up to Mansfield's Kingwood Center. Afterwards we met up with the rest of the family and we took another picture. (Do you see the difference in both of us?? We both started exercising and eating better). And then this year, we didn't have time to do much besides lunch. But still managed to get a new picture taken. (We both have lost so much and yet it has only made us stronger).
I am often mistaken for being younger than those that are younger than me. I think it's a combination of my youthful looks and the ability to not take myself too seriously - both attributes I can thank my mother for. We both think growing up is overrated. My mom's imagination is still just as active as it was when she was encouraging us to think beyond the obvious. Now that she is retired, she is often creating in her home studio - she paints, draws, sews, does woodworking and has become a re-purpose artist. All things that come naturally to her - spiked from an active imagination and curiosity that forever says, "why not?”.
So as we celebrate our mothers today, I would like to take a particular time out and thank my mother for allowing me to see myself as a creative artist. Her constant encouragement allowed me to imagine the impossible. My personal motto is: "She believed she could, so she did". But really it stems from, having a mother that believed in her daughter so fiercely that the daughter was able to believe in herself.
Thanks Mama, for everything!!
A girl with a camera, trying to be creative out loud. I keep my clients as friends; and believe in endless possibilities.