Happy Valentines Day from the Let The Kids team!! We love love over here, and the way so many talented photographers are able to capture those tender moments with their cameras. For Technique Thursday this week, we are featuring some rad Love images, along with some tips for capturing clients showing the love like there isn’t a camera pointed at them! Prepare for a long post full of sweetness & awesome.
My no-fail tips for capturing genuine emotion in engagement sessions: compliment your clients. Assure them that it’s your job to make them look good. Laugh at yourself. Chat with them for a minute while you adjust your camera settings. Act confident, at all times. Find common interests (this is especially important with the guys). Show them a rad image on your LCD screen. Ask them how they met. Tell them to ignore you for awhile: the emotions will be real after they’ve had that minute to connect to each other.
I do a lot of prep work with my clients prior to our sessions, to create an atmosphere that will allow me to blend in and hang back and capture their LOVE without too much intrusion. I tell my clients before they even book me that I want their “perfect” photo to be the imperfect one – the one where everyone is laughing at a kid’s goofy I’m-not-cooperating facial expression, or a little one is running out of the frame, or hanging upside down, or eating mama’s face! Above all, the love between a parent and child is there, and because of the nature of children, those moments just happen. And while I will direct people into good light and locations, and I’ve been known to whisper into a kid’s ear that I want him to tackle his papa, or sneak up on mama, I find that the best moments of love captured are those that occur before me when I’m just hanging back.
Most of my clients claim to be awkward in front of the camera, so I explain as we’re working what shot I’m trying to get. When they feel involved, they instantly get more comfortable. It’s in the midst of getting these “organized” shots that the good stuff just happens – they start to trust me and they laugh, they kiss and they RELAX. I also laugh a LOT when I’m shooting a couple, poking fun at myself and the weird contorted positions I get into when I’m shooting – if they’re laughing at me, they’re thinking a lot less about how uncomfortable they feel!
Taken by my daughter Noelle (9 years..) I set the focus and exposure and asked her to push the shutter when I hugged my youngest Noa. Until Yan gets here to take our photos (which is super soon), its one of the only ones I have with my kids.
This is an image of two smitten big sisters with their new baby sister. I just basically said, “Aw, look at your baby sister; isn’t she cute?” – and they looked adoringly at her as she yawned 🙂 Yep, pretty cute!!
For me the key to getting “real” emotion from my clients is to make sure they are comfortable with me before I even pull out my camera. From there I find a mixture of bossing them around (nicely) and letting them do their own thing works the best to get great photos. It helps them trust that I know what I’m doing while simultaneously letting them bring their own sparkle.
Love is a tricky thing to capture. I find it best to capture true emotion between the “posed” shots. For example, right after someone laughs from the staring game. It’s those small intimate moments that I love capturing for my clients.
To bring out true emotions with my clients I do what I can to make the environment and their poses as natural and fun as possible. For this image I showed my couple how I wanted them to pose. However, instead of telling them “hold the pose and smile”, I had them talk to each other about life, funny memories, etc. Then I waited for the right moment when he would say something that made her smile or hold a gaze.
When I’m shooting weddings, I find the most raw, authentic expressions of love happen when the couple doesn’t notice the camera. I try to take a step back and just wait for those moments to happen – inevitably they will.
This image was shot with the Contax 645 and Ilford 3200 film.
I wish I had some profound advice for getting clients to relax and let their love for each other come through in their photos. But as we all know, photos with toddlers can just be chaos (this is from one of my absolute favorite families, but this session had four kids, two of them under two! and this boy with the glorious blond curls was having NOTHING to do with my camera!). I take the shots of them doing exactly what I’ve directed them to do, but i also take the shots in between. And I’m not above telling a harried mom to put a tender, loving, happy look on her face no matter what her kids are doing, or telling an un-relaxed dad to have a beer!
I absolutely love catching those candid moments between my clients. For this image, I stood back and let the images create themselves. Sometimes I’ll say, “Pretend I’m not here” or “tell each other a funny joke” to get those real expressions. I do a little bit of guiding but I like to think of it as a prompt before the real moments happen!
I’m a big believer in the moments in-between. I think that the organic moments are far more representative of the love my clients have for one another than anything that I could manufacture. But how do you I get them to a place where they can interact with one another in a genuine way without being totally uncomfortable in front of me? I chat. I make a fool of myself. I laugh, they laugh. And pretty soon, it’s like the camera isn’t there anymore, and I’ve got a couple or a family just hanging out with their friend Jen. That’s when it gets good, and I can capture moments like this between Mother and Daughter.
These are two of my kids. With both my clients and kids, I tend to let things unfold naturally with very little direction. I find I get more honest, genuine emotion. I think here I said something like, “Give your brother a little kiss and hug” and got a series of them hugging, kissing, and snuggling with each other. I liked this particular image the best, because of the loving glance she is giving him.
My kids are love machines. It’s what we do best in our family. It is the beginning of all of our sentences. Sometimes I will be silly, make a slight fool of myself, smile and say sweet things, to get them to laugh together. But really, the most touching and authentic moments come when I hear them in the next room at bedtime, or watch them quietly working on their imaginations, or snuggling so easily together. This was a lucky capture. She cannot resist him, nor him, her. And it is the biggest love I’ve ever known.