Let Them Run, Photographing Children

One thing I know I say in every single family session when I am photographing children is “Let them run.”

When I say it, my self-conscious kicks in. In the back of my head, I know the parents think I’m crazy. I worry that the parent thinks along the lines of “If I let them run, instead of stand here and squirm, we will never get that smiling family photo, lady.”

Working with families and children requires a certain finesse. There is a delicate and hopefully invisible balance that I strive for as your photographer.

I adore working with children. Babies, toddlers and preschoolers are my favorite types of humans. They are just fun. I love cracking into each individual child’s personality and connecting what I know about their developmental stage and getting them to open up. Some children, like my own first born, are reserved and cautious. Perhaps your child is the busy bee who struggles to stand still and smile for family photos. I’ve met a dare devil or two who like to test their own limits during sessions, and maybe even all the time (one of these children may also be my second child). I have worked with special needs children and understand, as I have been told from a parents perspective that even booking family photos is intimidating without knowing how the photographer will interact with your child, or whether your child will be having a good day on the day you picked months in advance.

Combine any of the above with the fact that everyone does this whole parenting thing differently and it becomes even more important for me to be adaptable. I have met some parents who set hard limits, others who set few, and parents everywhere in between those two. I’ve never met two families or even spouses who parent in an identical way.

My clients often call me “the most patient person in the world.” I can see how I might fit that bill, but patience is not my end goal. What is paramount for your photos is that I document your family as you authentically and genuinely are together at the time of your session. To reflect your love as a family and turn that into art you want hanging on your wall. For my role as your photographer, that means being able perceive personalities and mold my interaction with your family to suit your needs best. To be present at your session and give guidance, but also to be invisible when necessary. I aim for kindness and to gain trust from everyone. Trust from you as the parent to allow me to get to know and interact with your child. Then trust from your child so that the shy ones will open up a little and the busy ones will let me be a part of their journey.

Trust so that when I softly say “It is ok, let them run,” both you and your child let me follow. When this happens, they take me to places I have never noticed, though I have walked the same trail nearly 100 times.  Sometimes it is candid and magical and sometimes they give me a big grin.  Either way, it becomes a photo of your child and who they genuinely are.

I can’t wait to share more from this family session with you soon.

Little boy playing briefly on an old wooden bridge during family photos

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