In the rush and hustle of preschool portrait day, it’s easy to lose track of the powerful personalities behind each and every smile. A talented portrait photographer, however, never loses sight of this. Each wide-eyed gaze, each dimple, each expression reveals something uniquely meaningful about a child. Those little people in front of the camera aren’t merely your subjects, they’re great big developing personalities and one of the great joys of portrait photography is catching that lightning in a bottle.
It goes without saying that portrait photographers need to be good with people. And this is especially true for preschool portrait professionals. Kids are people, too! Just tiny, complicated ones! The best images come from photographers who can look into the faces of each and every child and quickly figure out what make them tick, what relaxes them and brings out the giggles.
In some ways, catching a great preschool portrait is even more difficult than traditional studio photography. While it’s easier to direct older kids, young adults, professionals or actors looking for that perfect headshot, catching that in-the-moment kid glow is a pretty sweet reward. Directing a toddler is work, but once you get the hang of it, it’s infinitely rewarding.
The lovely thing about digital photography is that there’s nothing wrong with multiple takes. So snap away. Take a moment to check lighting and composition, but keep your eyes on the prize: making smiles and connecting kids with the camera. If you can’t get eyes on the lens, even the most brilliant lighting and camera angle won’t be able to save the day. Whatever you do, don’t get so lost in your craft that you lose sight of your clients.
Be a Clown
Here’s the thing, though: kids are pretty easily distracted. And, alas, they don’t always listen! So, brush up on your knock, knock jokes and start working on your silly bunny, evil genius, goofy goat, Donald Duck and Elmo impressions. For those little ones who find knock, knock jokes a little too sophisticated and impressions too terrifying, dust off some finger puppets and use your non-camera hand to put on a show. Engage with the kids and they’ll engage with you and your camera.
Now that you’ve got your jokey patter down and your puppets lined up, it’s time to practice. Kids are amazingly perceptive and if you’re nervous, they’ll know! If you’re stuck, they’ll know! If you’re thinking about your camera and not them, they’ll certainly know! And they’ll be too busy feeding off your energy to feed you any of theirs. We all know it’s relatively easy to adjust for lighting and color during the editing process; it’s not so easy to transform tears to laughter, though.
Turning your lens to the smiling, open faces of little ones is one of the most rewarding moves you can make. Consider extending an offer for free or at-cost portraits to your friends’, relatives’, and neighborhood little ones. It’s a great way to promote your business through word-of-mouth while working out any blips you may have in your routine. Capturing that special moment, preserving the joy of childhood, and making memories is what professional portrait photography is all about.