Posts tagged with Behind The Lens

Say Cheese!

For many of you, the following might seem an all-too familiar scenario: After careful clothing and hair preparation at home, you drag your child(ren) to the portrait studio for "picture day". Your dreams of pictures filled with smiling, beautiful kids are dashed when your 5 year old spills grape juice on his oxford shirt, your 2 year old throws an absolute tantrum when she can't have her blankie in the pictures, and your newborn sleeps through every photo. As a studio manager for a major retail portrait chain (name withheld to protect the innocent), I see variations on this ugly scenario every day. I also see parents who end up with a very successful portrait experience. I decided to compile a list of tips on how to make your "picture day" go as smoothly as possible.1) Prepare where it counts.Make a checklist of items you need to bring with you to your appointment. Don't forget your coupons, change of clothing, or checkbook. Smart items to also bring include backup clothes in case of an unexpected mess, your child's favorite toy, makings for a bottle or other drink (and I don't mean a flask for yourself!), and snack items for camera-room bribing (when all else fails). 2) Dress for success.If your child is under the age of 2, or particularly accident-prone, do NOT get them dressed at home. You will inevitably end up in the bathroom frantically trying to clean juice/spaghetti sauce/gummi bear residue from your child's best outfit. Bring them to the studio in their grubbies, then change them before the session starts. The only exception to this rule is if your child HATES changing their clothes. In this case, change them at home and wrap them in Saran Wrap (or put a bib on them) until you arrive at the studio.3) Arrive early.Get to your appointment 10-15 minutes early. This will ensure you go into your shoot right at your appointment time, not 10 minutes after it. There will be information that the photographer will need to get from you, like your contact information, who will be in the pictures, and if you have any background or posing preferences. If your studio of choice has a website, check it out ahead of time and you might be able to see your background choices before you set foot in the studio. 4) Request the best.Ask your friends and family if they have a favorite photographer from the studio you are going to. If you hear the same name a few times, then request that person when setting up your appointment. Be prepared to be flexible; not every associate works every day. If you cannot get any recommendations from your circle of friends, simply request that a manager shoot your portraits. The managers (usually) have the most experience at getting great photos.5) Know what to expect.Policies at different studios vary. Find out in advance how many outfits you can bring, how many poses will be taken, and how long your appointment time is. If your appointment (read: camera room time) is for 15 minutes, then don't expect to fit in 4 outfit changes and 20 poses. If that many changes of clothes is what you need, then be prepared to pay for multiple appointment slots.6) Be a helper.In most situations, your photographer will be working with your child solo. As such, they really need to be able to focus on the important parts of the picture, like setting up the pose, framing and focusing the shot, and getting your child to show those pearly whites (or baby pink gums). Be ready for them to ask you to help with: keeping your child in place in front of the backdrop, wiping up droolies, and even getting smiles if your child is the type who only smiles for people they know. These things will help your photographer do their job better and you will get better pictures for it. 7) Bring a friend.After the photos are taken, you will need to work with your photographer or another employee to pick out what sizes and poses to order. This process goes much easier and faster if you don't have children climbing in your lap begging for snack/juice/a nintendo wii. Bring your partner, a relative, or a friend to help keep your child entertained and happy so you can get the ordering process done quickly.8) If at first you don't succeed....Sometimes, despite all of your best efforts, the magical pictures of your little snowflake just aren't happening. Work with your photographer to try and figure out the cause. Most studios will be more than happy to let you take a break for feeding/diaper/etc if their schedule allows it. If you feel that it might be a personality clash, ask the photographer (kindly!) if there is another photographer in the studio who could try their wiles on your little one. I have had children scream at the top of their lungs at me, then when another person walks in and tries, they are giggling within moments. And sometimes, no matter what you try, you are just not going to get the photos you want that day. Don't let it stress you out, it happens frequently. Your studio should be more than happy to save any good pictures that they have taken so far, and set up a new time for you to come back and try again.Hopefully these tips will help you get the photos you want, and make your picture day the best it can be. May all of your pictures be as great as this one: