I have a private Facebook group just for clients of my family photography business and over the holidays I asked everyone what their biggest struggle is photographing their own children. One of the most popular answers was getting good shots of their kids together. I totally get it! You’ve got one who isn’t looking, the other one isn’t smiling or, they just won’t sit still! It’s enough to make any mama put down the camera and say ‘why bother?’. What if I told you that you’re going about it the wrong way?
I think we’ve become obsessed with perfection. The perfectly posed, everyone-looking-at-the-camera photo. But what does that even say about your family? There’s no connection. If those are the only photos you’re taking, you’re missing out on so many images that show off what makes your children special and unique. Most of the photos I love of my own children are ones that capture some part of their personality or their relationship.
Still, I know you crave those genuine smiles. I do too! I’m just not willing to have it end in tears. Once I changed the way I approach my kids with my camera, things got a lot easier.
The very first thing I think you can do to get better sibling photos is to cultivate a positive attitude about pictures.
Talk to your kids about why they’re important to you. Pictures are a way to tell stories. They connect us to our past and help us remember what it was like growing up. Let them know that you’re going to be taking more pictures, but that they don’t have to stop playing or look at the camera. If you leave the camera out and snap pictures regularly while they’re playing, eating, or even sleeping; pretty soon they won’t even hear you click the shutter.
So how will this help? Like I said before, if you’re only taking your camera out for big events like the annual Christmas card photo, they’re going to associate picture taking with stress and frustration. Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Getting everyone all dressed up and praying that they behave for just.one.photo so you can send a perfect card is not always easy or fun. By bringing the camera out more often and making it a fun experience, they’ll be more likely to cooperate when it comes time to get everyone smiling.
Easier said than done when it comes to our own children, but the more you sit back and observe, the easier it gets to anticipate moments that are frame worthy. Plus, you’re not forcing a moment to happen. You’re just waiting for it to come naturally and that’s when you get the best photos. Look for a physical or emotional connection. A physical connection is when they’re close. Maybe playing together, reading a book, walking together, hugging, etc. An emotional connection is all about the bond that they share. Maybe big brother is teaching little brother how to throw a football or sisters are playing dress up. Olivia loves to pull Jaime’s hair and I knew I wanted to capture that memory. All I had to do was wait for it to happen 🙂
Make it fun!
If you want to capture genuine smiles, you’re going to have to do a little work. And by that I mean, play games, act silly, make fat noises, anything that will get them laughing and not thinking about the camera. If your kids are little a great game to play is Simon Says. This way you can line everyone up and they’ll all be together in the frame. Also, give everyone a turn to be Simon so it holds their interest a little longer. Ring Around the Rosie is another good one. A fun shot is to wait until they ‘all fall down’ to take the picture. For this shot of Olivia, we played ‘so big’. She loves to show off her new tricks! And it kept her from crawling towards me and off the bed!
If you really want a nice picture of all of your kids smiling, have someone help you. Your husband, partner, friend, or family member can be the one to act silly so you can click away and pray for a keeper! My niece and nephew were with my while I took this picture at my mom’s house on Thanksgiving.
And there you have it. I hope these help a little! I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and see your photos. Come find me and say hello!