How many times have we heard someone say, “My child hates the camera and runs away every time I pick it up.”? I hear this all too often and know that the more you pick up your camera and practice that the chances of your kids getting photographer’s kid syndrome increase.
When I first started my journey, I decided to complete a Project 365 where you take a photo everyday for a year. Since my children were my main subjects, I had to quickly learn to how to prevent photographer kid syndrome so they wouldn’t run when I picked up the camera.
Below are a list of tips and tricks I’ve used over the past 5 years. My children don’t run from the camera and instead sometimes fight over who gets to be in the image.
- No.01Don’t ask them to stop what they are doing
If you see a child doing something in the right light and you know you want to capture that moment, then quietly go get your camera and take some images. Don’t ask them to stop what they are doing to look at you or move. No one wants to be interrupted and ask to “Look at the camera. Wait. One more. Ok, one more. No really, this is the last one.” Let the kids play.
- No.02Listen and respect their requests
If your child asks you to stop taking pictures, listen and respect them. Even if that means you don’t get the shot it is a small price to pay to prevent your child from feeling like they don’t have a voice when it comes to someone taking photos of them. You are not the paparazzi. When children feel they have a voice they are more willing to cooperate.
- No.03Whisper their name
I realize that sometimes we want photos of our kids looking at the camera in a really natural way. One way to achieve this is by allowing them to play and then after you have the shot ready to go, quietly whisper their name and click the shutter. You will get the most natural look and I bet it will quickly become a favorite of yours.
One my daughter’s last day of school I wanted to capture some images to remember this moment. She was not in the mood and asked me to stop. I put the camera way and she continued to play. After a while I asked if she minded if I took some pictures and she agreed. Then I quietly whispered her name and I snapped this picture. This is so much more my daughter than the posed images I was trying to capture earlier that was frustrating both of us.
- No.04Never say cheese
I’m sure this is obvious, but don’t ask them to say cheese. Instead if you really do need a quick smile then say something else. “Monkey” works and depending your child “Poop” or something a little more silly would do the trick as well. Plus saying something that would actually make your kids giggle will guarantee you are more genuine look than cheese. But be prepared because no matter how hard you try to not teach them cheese, as soon as you send them off to school they come home saying cheese.
- No.05Set a timer or agree to a picture count
Often times if I have something in mind that I want to capture verses just photographing the moment, I will ask one of my kids for help. Prior to taking the photos we agree to a time or picture count. So for example, I will say, “Hey, will you come sit by the window and turn this way. We will only take pictures for 7 minutes. When the timer goes off we are done.” Nine times out of time they willingly agree. I then set a timer and honor it when it goes off even if I didn’t get the shot I want. Not only does this help my kid trust me and the camera but it forces me to really focus knowing I only have a few minutes.
- No.06Thank them
Kids are people too. Thank them for their time and compliment them on how well they did. Even if the child is only 2 years old they will appreciate the kindness and remember next time it’s time to take photos.
- No.07Don’t be above bribery
People have mixed feelings on bribing their kids to take photos. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not above it. If I have something in mind and I need them to cooperate I may bribe with a piece of chocolate or to watching a favorite TV show depending on how much time I am asking from them. I don’t do this every time but it sure helps.
- No.08Put the camera down
Yes, you read that right. Put your camera down and experience life with your kids. You don’t want to experience their childhood through your view finder. You don’t want your kids to forget what you look like because your camera is always in your face.
By combining these tips and changing things up you will prevent your kids from hating the camera.
However, if the damage is done and your child already runs from the camera, then I have a challenge for you.
For the next 30 days you are not allowed to ask your child to look at the camera. Not even to whisper their name or to bribe them. You have to retrain your child that the camera isn’t this terrible thing.