Just as a public service to all those mommy bloggers out there... here are my top 13 tips for the next time you take your child to have a portrait made -- from the photographer's point of view.
1. If I ask you to sit in a certain spot, it isn't so you can't be involved in the sitting, it's likely for the safety of your child.
2. Remember I'm the photographer and I do have some inkling as to what I am doing and what I am doing is attempting to get the best pictures of your child/children that you've ever had. Let me do my job for you.
3. If the child is being difficult (i.e. acting his or her age, generally) don't threaten the child with a spanking or taking away a favorite toy/passtime. That tends to make them cry thus ruining the pictures for everyone.
4. Bring something special to have a portrait taken with. Kids generally have a favorite toy, doll, stuffed animal that is a constant companion. This favorite toy changes as kids get older, or sometimes just looks very well loved ad the kids get older. Why not commemorate this item and its place in your child's heart by including it in a portrait?
5. It is okay to reward your child with gum or candy for doing well in a portrait sitting, but remember if you give it to him/her before or during the sitting, it will be in the picture or it will get all over his/her clothes.
6. If your child is the type that hates to change clothes (this is especially true, I find, for really young kids) don't expect to have a clothing change during your sitting.
7. If you like something specific or want something specific (you're trying to match an heirloom pose) let me know ahead of time and do bring a sample of what you would like me to create.
8. If you don't like something I'm doing, speak up. But, please do so in a respectful manner.
9. If your child has a skinned knee, scratched nose, or other booboo, don't necessarily reschedule. Unless you are looking for a formal portrait, these little booboos are actually kind of cute in pictures and capture a time and event you'll likely remember and be able to laugh about later. Some of the cutest pictures are ones where the contrasts of childhood are seen...pretty Sunday dress with a little skinned knee or where a baseball uniform and a black eye will always remind you of the game he (or she) caught that fly ball.
10. One of the most often asked questions I get is what should we wear. My question to you is what do you want the portraits for? Is this a formal portrait to go in the formal living room or a cute portrait to commemorate a time in life? If it's a formal portrait, more formal, dressy clothes. If it is a portrait just because she/he is turning four, then I recommend just a fun, cute outfit.
11. If it is a family portrait, you don't all have to match, but you should all blend. Avoid everyone having contrasting or conflicting patterns in shirts. For example, that plaid shirt may be adorable, but if everyone has on plaid or bold prints and they are all different, it is distracting when you look at your portraits. I recommend solids in complimentary colors
12. Don't automatically dismiss a portrait because it isn't a smile. Look closely at the expression and realize that the frown or wrinkled nose is an expression you see often. I agree that your main portrait may not be this pose, but the "emotion" shots are sometimes favorites later.
13. Help me make this fun for your child. A happy child means great portraits!
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