The 5 Minute Photoshoot -- Active Shoots with Multiple Older Children

Last week's 5-Minute Photoshoot for Infants was such a success, I thought I would bring you some MORE of our 5-Minute "Quickie Shoots".  This time we are dealing with three wiggly, squiggly, goofy boys.  NOT the easiest subjects in the world.  How to get a shot where they have natural smiles AND are looking in the general direction of the camera?  Today I will share my tricks!  Join me!

The photo above was my "money shot".  
That was the photo I was going for all day (and by all day I mean I did TWO 5 minute photoshoots in order to get it.)

Those bunny ears?  We will get to them!

These shoots were done on a summer day when the boys were getting ready to swim.  My first mistake?  
Asking the boys to pose for photos while they wanted to swim.  I ended up with one grumpy face and two silly ones.

Mistake #2:  Saying something along the lines of "C'mon guys!  Smile!"  Never works.

What DOES work?  Popsicles.

To get the shot below?

I said:  "Redhead, what are you DOING?!"

His silly nature made him think whatever he was doing was funny and I got a natural smile out of him PLUS I got a natural smile 
and face angled more towards the camera from baby boy thanks to some natural brotherly curiosity.

...and middle child is just not having it...

Mistake #3: Continuing this shoot.  They are so done.

I tried one more angle from behind, but the light was off -- they were tired and not exactly going to look at the lens.


Happy boys.

AFTER popsicles and AFTER swimming, but BEFORE quiet/naptime, I tried again.

Again -- 5 minutes.  That is all.  Not 30 minutes.

Things wrong in the photo above:

--Those legs splayed out awkwardly
-- Only one boy is really looking at the camera
-- The ladder and stuff in the background draw focus
-- There is not a single good, natural smile

Things right in the photo above:

-- The light is pretty shadows
-- They are close together with their arms somewhat around each other
-- They are happy and not grumpy yet

I have plenty to work with.

NOW we are getting there!

Solution #1 -- Crop in the camera angle to minimize background distraction and get rid of weird leg angles.
Solution #2 -- Tell middle child to give bunny ears = three natural smiles

The problem?  Natural smile #3 is towards his brothers, not me.

Solution?  Yell his name!

This will work ONCE and only once while they are laughing.  Just say the name.  
No "look at me" or "smile" or "hold still".  Just grab attention, then SNAP.

YUP - That is it!  One chance and then you are finished.  See?

TIPS for Taking Photos of Multiple Active Children

#1 -- Make sure they are happy.  Bribery in small bits is OK.  sweets work as do privileges like swimming.  Threatening works is VERY small doses.  Threaten quiet time instead of playing in front of the camera and they will cooperate.  Threaten an actual punishment and you will just get sad and/or grumpy faces and body language.

#2 -- Don't try to make them "unhappy" by telling them to "smile" at the camera.  Tell a joke -- make fun of yourself -- tickle them -- just don't tell them to "smile".

#3 -- Don't go longer than 5 minutes.  Keep shoots short, but multiples shoots in a day is ok.

#4 -- Break up pictures with fun.  If the kids aren't into it the faces will never be right.  Try again later.

#5 -- Once kids are happy, group them with the smallest in the center.  Older kids can "wrangle" them better that way.

#6 -- Take a couple "pre-photos" when the kids aren't paying attention or posing to get your angles and lighting right.

#7 -- Allow them to be silly, but not too silly.  Silly can make great smiles, but it can also go crazy quickly.

#8 -- Save the silly for the end of the shoot.  Silly string, throwing leaves, snowballs or yes, even bunny ears, can make the kids go CRAZY with fun.  That is great, but you are only going to get the good, happy shots at the beginning of the wildness.  You will NEVER get them back into any kind of pose after the craziness begins.  Try getting your decent "posed" photos first, add is a little crazy to grab a couple smiles, then back away because the wildness will take over.

#9 -- Enlist help if needed!  When I absolutely CANNOT get a good shot, I bring in the Daddy weapon.  A few seconds of his silly faces and we have great smiles.  The trick to getting them to look at the camera and NOT at Dad while he is being silly?  Tell Dad to literally put his chin an inch or two above your (the photographer's) head.  A few inches of difference looking UP doesn't show in photos as badly as 2-3 inches to the left or right of the lens.

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Julia Konya said…
I adore all the photos. So so cute and silly!