Scenario: You’re walking through the grocery store with your child, and a neighbor says hello, from more than six feet away. You instinctively look down at your kid to make sure they’re responding appropriately. This universal parent language indicates that you care about how your offspring act in public, and by extension, how your child reflects your parenting skills.
You coax your kid to smile, wave, or say hello, giving them “the eye” or a sharp jab of the elbow if they refuse. It works, and your child gives a half-hearted wave. You relax. It’s not the best, but in the moment, it’ll do. Another successful social interaction.
New scenario: You’re sitting in a park in Richmond with your child, and a photographer tells everyone to look at the camera. You smile, your partner smiles, your kid gets distracted by a squirrel and the photographer says, “Hey [Kid], look here!” Just as your kid shakes off the distraction and looks up, you look down, to verify they’re obeying. So your photographer gets a great picture of your partner and your kid, while you’re giving your kid “the eye.” Not exactly a frameable frozen moment in time.
You can’t help it, it’s instinctual. As a parent, I understand the need to ensure your child is not embarrassing you in public. You want the photographer to know that you’re a good parent. And you also need to know that your money is being spent well on this family photo investment. You don’t want your family pictures to be all photos of your kid staring off into the distance, or looking grumpily at their shoes. I get it.
However, this professional is giving you permission to relax and let go. Trust that I’ll ask you for help if I need it. Also trust that I’ll get the shots we all want for you to be able to hang on your wall. All you need to do is stay calm, enjoy yourself, and leave the posing to me.
If your kids cry or fuss, how can you turn fuss into fun? Tickle, tease, do “bear hugs,” make funny faces, distract. Speak softly to help them relax. If you’re upset or frustrated, your kids will be, too. Don’t yell at your kids to smile at the camera. Just relax, follow my instructions, and if I’m not giving explicit instructions, take that as a sign to keep having fun together.
Want some more tips on how to mentally prepare yourself and your kids for a shoot? Read this blog post!