When working with children or young adults it is important, most of all, to have the parents on board first. 100%.
Of course, every parent has their own methods of parenting and I respect whichever way they think is best to manage the day, their children and their home, however I always suggest the following to clients before a photo shoot with their kids...
-Try to remain as calm as possible on the day of the shoot, even if something goes wrong or the kids struggle to cooperate. Children will always follow their parent's lead and so if parents are excited about the activities, and it's clear to each child, then ideally that energy will bounce from person to person and everyone will be up for having a great time.
-Before my arrival as well. If you stress and/or have an argument before the shoot, the whole session can fall flat and become very challenging. Therefore know, that even if you wake up on the morning of the shoot and feel like nothing is going the way you planned, just try to go with the flow.
-During, if possible, try to minimize direction. This might be confusing for everyone involved. Most of the time, parents want their children to be on their best behavior. Understandably. However, this is not necessary for the shoot, as children don't behave all the time anyway.
(I taught English for 4 years, working with children of different age groups, and I can assure you, I know children don't behave like angels all the time...)When children misbehave it is completely natural and normal.
With every children's lifestyle portrait session, there is a very short time frame to work with. Even if I was there for 4 hours rather than 2, we'd still face the same obstacles. A short attention span. Toddlers, teenagers and even young adults lose interest or tire quickly, especially if the younger ones are more challenging and need more attention.
If kids choose to show off and be silly, then that's OK. Let them show off. For one day, they should ideally be able to behave as silly as they want in front of a complete stranger. Having two adults present will prevent things getting out of hand. If you trust me, your children will trust me and know it's OK to be as they always are. Children, can smell someone being "fake" a mile a way. It is for that reason that I might at times just be "one of them" , rather than the stranger with the camera. Please excuse me if I act a bit silly from time to time. ( It's bound to happen...)
So, let's be realistic, we are working with little people here. They-, just like every other person on this planet, won't cooperate happily, unless they feel they're winning... It is OUR job to make them feel completely at ease, however, we won't be able to predict their mood on the day. Let's just roll with the punches and cross each bridge when we get there.
Let's work together to try and spin negatives into positives, as encouragement and praise will help your child feel even more special, unique and loved, and that's when we end up with fantastic photographs! It's a win/win situation for everyone involved.
This is the back-up plan:
When I arrive to your home, before I knock on your front door, I will hide a few bits of candy in your front garden. As the session progresses I'll suggest we all go for a "treasure hunt"!
(This is guaranteed to get them fired up again, just in-case they lose interest.)
If you have any other useful hints, tips, or ideas please share them below... x