There’s really only one thing harder than herding cats…taking pics of 5 kids four years old and younger, and getting them to smile, and getting them to look at the camera, and getting them to sit still.

Ok, in truth, there are probably a lot of things harder, like brain surgery, or building a spaceship,  but for me, this is my challenge.  I have very little control of these shoots, but the little control I do have I want to share with you.   The itty bitty things I’ve learned along the way that make it more likely to get a good shot.  I promise these methods won’t work every time, in fact they’ll only work some of the time and sometimes none of the time.  I think I might have gotten wordy, but you get the point.  It’s hard, real hard. So without further adieu here are my tips for herding cats, I mean um… taking pictures of cute kids.

Tip #1 – I usually don’t jump right in and start taking pics the second the families arrive, I like to build a little repore with the kids by talking to them.  I try to make eye contact with them and not their parents.  While chatting it up about Santa, candy, and favorite sports I try to assess the kids and their attitudes towards pictures, and more importantly me.

Tip #2- I always start with the hardest picture, in this case it was the group picture.  I usually have very limited time with the limited attention span at this age, so I have to be sure to use my time wisely.  Get the hard one over with.  It’s much easier to get one kid focused than 5.

Tip #3- It took me a long time to figure out that it’s really best to only have one parent in the room.  For this family shoot, there were two families, so  4 adults, 2 grandparents, 5 kids, and Jon and I crowded into my small studio.  With all those people the kids get overwhelmed, it gets loud, and the kids don’t  know where to look because everyone is trying to get them to smile.  I just ask the parents to pick one person that they think would do the best at nurturing the scared ones, while making the serious ones laugh.  Between the 3 of us we can usually cover it.

Tip #4-  Kinda goes with tip 3.  I try to make sure the people that are in the room with me understand that I want the kids to look at the camera, so toward me.  Parents are awesome at getting their kids to smile, so I usually just ask them to get real close to me.  Or even play peek a boo behind my head.  Jon and I do all kinds of crazy things to get kids to look. Layla has sat on my head many a time!

Tip #5- I never put my camera down unless I think I’ve got the shot.  I’m always always waiting for that perfect expression of the kids personality.

Tip #6- I don’t wait for the smiles.  Sometimes the in between moments are even more precious.  Like the pic below.

Tip #7- If kids do get upset and cry I don’t fret, I just work with their sibling, or parents.  They usually  come around, because everyone wants to be the center of attention. 🙂  Even kids!

I love that my job is unpredictable, I love that my tricks don’t always work.  It keeps me on my toes.  I guess that’s what this post is really about. Stay on your toes, stay ready, and have fun!  Happy shooting!

By the way I picked THE CUTEST KIDS EVER for this post.  The Carlisle kids!  Thanks guys for being so much fun, and sharing so much of yourselves with me!