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Even the best-behaved kids can have a bad day. And - especially for the smallest ones - waiting for Dad or Mom to set up the digital camera for a portrait can be trying. Here are a few tips to make shooting portraits of your children easier:
*Set up before you involve the kids. Choose your setting, get your camera and tripod set up and place any props. Once everything is in place, bring the kids in. Hint: Don't get them wound up or make them sit still someplace while you set up; they'll be anxious and antsy when picture time arrives. Instead, give them a favorite quiet activity to do, such as coloring or looking at picture books.
*Don't hide behind the camera. Once you have your shot framed, get out from behind the camera. Your children love your face... not your camera. You'll communicate happiness and calm much better if Mom or Dad's familiar smile is easy to see.
*Give them something to do. It isn't natural for a child to hold still, except when they're asleep. So trying to force them to strike and hold a pose is like trying to pour molasses uphill. Give them a favorite toy or a little leeway to move around. You're shooting digital here - there's no such thing as wasted film.
*Express what you want to see. To get their attention, talk to them in a normal tones. Don't show frustration. If you're calm and happy, you increase the chances that they will be, too. If you want a smile, smile at them. If you want them to laugh, be funny. But don't be unusual or weird... small children respond best to the familiar.
*If at first you don't succeed... Chances are, you don't have to get that portrait right this second. (If you do, consider a time-management course.) If your child is uncomfortable, cranky or uncooperative, call it a day. If you make picture time stressful, your child will grow to dislike it, the cycle will feed itself and picture time will eventually become traumatic for everyone involved.
Follow these few simple tips and you'll get better portraits more often. And your friends will probably be jealous of how much more "photogenic" your kids are than theirs.