August 3, 2020
Have a toddler or child who doesn’t like taking photos? I address this very common occurrence in this blog as well as share these Central Indiana extended family photos with you.
Today I’m sharing this extended family photo session of my own family! This is my Aunt Dina and cousins Ashlynn, Levi, Whitney, and their beautiful families. They’re a very fun “Bunch,” always laughing, joking, and poking gentle fun at themselves and others. I’m so grateful I can call them my family and I always look forward to seeing them at every gathering and holiday.
Coordinating extended family photos always poses (pun intended) a bit of a challenge. Not only is everyone coordinating outfits and schedules, but coordinating children’s nap schedules and moods come into factor as well. I work really hard to work really well and efficiently with extended families. I plan out the session in my head beforehand and have a great posing system so I can direct and get authentic smiles in a timely manner.
It doesn’t matter how many children there are at a session, there seems to always be one who doesn’t feel like taking photos. On the surface, it can look like a child is refusing to take photos. However, we must remember little people are people, too. They have completely valid and often reasonable feelings.
Olivia was no exception to this common occurrence. When her family arrived at the gazebo, she quickly became overwhelmed. Her dad is my cousin, but Olivia does not know me well and she felt understandably nervous and shy. Plus, the adults buzzed with a lot of energy and it probably just felt a whole lot safer to snuggle up in mom’s arms.
This is where I come in to support you, as a parent, during a family photo session. I trust you know your child(ren) and understand their feelings better than I ever could. However, I also understand children in the context of photo sessions really well. Plus, as a former special education teacher, it is literally within my expertise to work with children through their big feelings. Almost every time a child doesn’t want to take photos, they just need some time to feel safe and to understand what is happening.
While safely in mom’s arms, I took a few photos of them together. Then I quietly showed Olivia the images, commented “wow, look at you!” and then walked away. I literally gave her physical space. However, I did stay within earshot while taking photos of her Dad and sister. Every 30-60 seconds, I would come back and show Olivia the images I took of her sister, sneak in a quick photo of Olivia again, show her, and then leave her again. The purpose: demonstrating what we were doing.
Neither mom nor I told Olivia to “stop acting that way” or pressured her to “look at the camera and smile.” Within 5-7 minutes, I gained Olivia’s trust, helped diffuse the overwhelmed feeling, taken some other father/daughter photos, and had gotten several images of Olivia in mom and dad’s arms that looked like this:
The rest of the session was a breeze. Olivia trusted me and knew she could stay close to mom and dad if she wanted. She understood what we were doing and felt a lot more comfortable with what was happening around her. I think her personality absolutely shines through these images and all because we took just a few minutes to validate her feelings and help her understand what was happening.
Love you all!