Why is a wedding photographer doing a portrait session with three kids under 3 years old? Because I still need to keep practicing photographing humans! That means taking pictures of anyone willing to pose for me–including three kids all under 3 years old–that’ right–three under 3!
Since I’d never photographed kids other than my own, I thought for a few days about how I would approach the session. I remembered how hard it was to get my oldest son to smile for the camera when he was a toddler. Waiting for hours at the JCPenney portrait studio only made it worse, of course. Poor baby didn’t have a chance.
Once he got onto the carpeted table, he immediately wanted to get off of the carpeted table. And getting him to smile and not cry–almost impossible. We talked to him and tried to make him laugh. We grew more frustrated by the second, and so did he. In the end, a fluffy toy soccer ball made him happy enough for at least one good picture.
So, I pondered all of this before the portrait session I had with three siblings. I knew that that the best pictures of kids are gotten when they’re just being themselves–playing, talking to each other, but especially when they’re discovering something. I planned to cultivate that as much as possible. Great idea! But that’s not what happened.
I first set out to find the light and some good backgrounds. I found three great spots where the light and shade combo was perfect. All three spots were promising–in front of a stack of logs, a red swing, and some red stairs. I just needed to direct those young ‘uns!
In theory, I wanted to place the babies in the designated areas and watch them discover, like I mentioned earlier. But–the six month old baby could barely sit, and his 2 1/2 year old sister wasn’t able to hold him as I had hoped. Besides–she had just gotten her Christmas dress on and her hair brushed. There was no way she could also smile while looking at the camera and holding her baby brother! Definitely not happening.
Luckily, Gigi (that’s what they call their great-grandma) had a mini high chair. She placed the baby inside of it and tucked a piece of red fabric around it to make it look Christmasy. Good save, Gigi! One thing to note, fellow photographers, you need a gigi or a couple of gigi’s ready to help you position those three kids all under 3! They wiggle, they stumble, they topple. They can fall over at any minute if you put them on a raised surface. At one point I thought their mother was going to have to froggy jump over me to catch one of her babies!
Here is my advice for you if you’re photographing three kids under the age of 3: