How to Photograph Your Own Kids: Preventing Photographer Kid Burnout

Today I’d like to address an ailment called ‘P.K.B’, or Photographer Kid Burnout. If you’ve ever tried to photograph your own kids, you may recognize the symptoms: Pouting. Screaming. Crying. Grumpy faces. Rolling eyes…. and that is just from us parents! The kids are at it too! Running away, hiding under the bed, making ridiculous faces, and maybe worse… (I’m talking the middle finger people!)

It has all the parental paparazzo’s lamenting, “WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL?!”

I’m with you!

All we’re asking is for them to pose for us for just a minute! Why the theatrics?!  Don’t they want these beautiful photo memories to cherish forever?

….NO. They don’t care about that beautiful photo! They are 3 (5, 9, 13) and photo memories are not their priority! This is for US. We want the memories, we want the practice, we enjoy this. I think that is the first step, recognizing that this is not for the kids! And remembering that can help us be more understanding to their unfortunate role as photographer kids!

How can we alleviate Photographer Kid Burnout? Well, here are some ideas.

Tips to Photograph Your Own Kids

  • Kiss posed portraiture goodbye (for awhile). It’s just too posey, too fussy and way too boooooring.
  • Embrace the mess and chaos.

photograph your own kids

Here we are, in the midst of a heavenly golden hour. And what do I have to photograph…but a bunch of rowdy cousins, in dirty play clothes and messy hair, rolling downhill at top speed. Flailing limbs, knocking of heads…you get the picture.

  • Channel your inner lifestyle photographer. Photograph on the sly.
  • Give them your undivided attention. Then sneak in the camera. They are so much more willing to entertain us, when they feel like they’ve had a good dose of attention!
  • Make it fun for them! Do what they like to do, in a location that you can work with!

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I hate to waste a golden hour. So, trampoline time is better than nothing! She was happy as a lark.

  • Don’t direct, don’t fuss, be patient! Just let it happen.
  • Compliment them! Tell them how beautiful or strong they are, how nice their eyes are. How pretty that color is on them. Let them see the photos, so they can see what all the fuss is about. We do this for our clients, but often forget to do it with our kids.

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Here is a simple example of the power of a compliment. The first pic is the old “Just give me one nice smile, and we can be done!” (Yah right, says her expression)

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And pic two is “WOW. Do your eyes ever look pretty! Grandpa is going to love this picture!”

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  • While in front of the camera, ask them meaningful questions. What they want to be when they grow up. Who is the kindest kid at school? What is the yuckiest supper Mom makes? Who stuck that booger on the back of the couch?
  • And most importantly: Try not to get frustrated & angry. Don’t yell! It’s hard sometimes, but it’s the #1 way to teach them that getting photographed by you STINKS!

The wonderful reward we get for letting it come naturally is the real moments we capture. Our children’s stories. Their personalities, their interests, real & authentic memories. Keep this in mind when you photograph your own kids. And 10, 20 years down the road, those genuine moments will be your favourites, I can promise you that!

 

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