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How to photograph your kids: [Coffee Shop Portrait Session Downtown Durant]

We all love our kids. (duh, Lindsay.) And naturally we want photographs of our little darlings, but most of our kids have an aversion to the camera. Have we instilled this them? Probably. So, I'm going to try my best to impart some wisdom or just what I've learned over the years mostly through trial, error, and LOTS of frustrated sighs. Yes, it's true I'm a professional portrait photographer but it's one thing to photograph someone else's child and a total other to photograph your own. I'll give you a little backstory. I always try to take pictures of the kids around their birthdays. Last year it didn't really happen except for birthday party pics. Rebekah and Joshua both have birthdays in May and Elijah's is in July. It's been so busy this summer that I haven't been able to set aside time for the kids sessions and it just kept getting pushed back. I must have been crazy or extremely optimistic but either way the stars aligned and I was able to take all three of my children's portraits in one afternoon. I put it into a nice 5 point lesson to keep it simple and for times sake because if you are a parent you're probably reading this with kids yelling or asking you for a snack like mine are while I'm writing this.

1. Prep them and get their input. My kids are 10, 7, 3. If I can get the 10 year old on board the other two will pretty much follow suit. I told Elijah, my oldest, that for his birthday I really wanted to take his portraits. Ordinarily he loathes pictures. But like I said, I've made birthday portraits a regular part of celebrating the day and we've missed it the past two years so I think he was more willing to go. Also I asked him where he wanted to go. He's 10 and really needs autonomy anyway so this seemed a crucial point that I give him some say in what we did. My kids all love Opera House Coffee in downtown Durant. Bless them. So that's where we decided to go. 2. Feed them! If you've been a Mom for just a month you know a fed child is a happy child. Same goes for husbands, but that's another topic. Luckily Opera House serves food so we just made a date of it and had lunch when we arrived. I started by shooting a couple shots of each kid at the table then put my camera away till we finished eating. *I always order the Alto panini, it's the best! 3. Let them do what they like. I then asked where Elijah would like to go in the coffee shop for his portraits. He loves this book they have about engineering so he headed straight for the couches and coffee table area to read the book. He loves creating things. He sat there looking at all the different inventions while I shot here and there. He would look up at me occasionally or show me something cool he had found in the book. It was low pressure and he just got to be himself. Win. There was also the added bonus of brother and sister coming over and sitting with him to look at the book. Double win! Rebekah likes to pose so it wasn't hard to get her to pose. Staying in the pose is a different story. I ask her questions or give her funny directions while I shoot like "pretend your feet are glued to the floor," or ask "do you see my lens blinking?" And Joshua is the king of funny faces. He told me he wanted to sit on the stairs, and after getting permission, we went over and sat down. I let him know he could make his funny faces after he gave me his normal sweet looks. Again, I let him do what he likes. 4. Don't over shoot. There comes a point, rather quickly, when your kids are done. If you anticipate this and intentionally don't shoot too long, everyone, including you, will be so much happier. There's the desire to make sure that you've "got good ones" but shooting longer will not make them better. 5. And finally, when it comes to photographing your kids, especially in group photos, you need a good attitude, patience, and fart noises. I learned that last one from a dear friend who has been a photographer since she was in high school. It's full proof. Inevitably the kids want to make fart noises too, but in between that are the biggest and most genuine smiles you'll ever get. The biggest thing is to not get yourself too worked up about getting the shots. If they're not digging it just put your camera away. It isn't worth stressing everyone out. You want your kids to be able to look back at the photos and remember the fun moment, not how mad you were. Trust me I've learned this one the hard way from shooting our family portraits by myself. I always hire another photographer now. It's worth the money! So get your phone camera, point and shoot, or big girl DSLR and find some good light to shoot in! Here's a smattering of what I shot of my littles. Enjoy and be encouraged that it is possible to do it yourself. And if you just can't you can always call me to come do it for you. :) -Lindsay
















Fart noises. Works every time.


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