I couldn’t be happier with how my bluebell mini sessions went this year. I was so gutted not to be able to do it last year – I had planned that it would be my first big push starting out full time with my business. So being able to do it this year has felt all the sweeter. There's definitely something magical about the bluebells so it's been amazing to see returning clients, friends and meet new families. Most importantly the feedback has been really positive and everyone enjoyed themselves, me included!
I get such a range of families and children with varying personalities and of different ages. In a mini 20 minute session, it’s key that I can make them feel comfortable as quickly as possible to get the best images. This is part of the reason I send a questionnaire for completion before the session so I can be prepared too. So I’d thought I’d write a blog on just a few of the different challenges and my tricks to get everyone having fun and enjoying themselves, because that is what gets the best photos!
The most obvious character trait for little ones is shyness with someone new, especially when they’re shoving a camera in your face! Parents can really worry that there will be no smiles or individual photos. I find the key is patience – I get photos with Mum and Dad first so there’s lots of cuddles and tickles for them to get the idea that I’m not scary. Then maybe photos with a sibling, especially if they’re older so they can copy their behaviour. In the case of Mollie (who was almost 2), she was still quite nervous after this so I got some photos of her sitting on Mum’s lap whilst Mum leaned mostly out of shot. The below left photo was taken like this and I’ve cropped Mum out. Mollie really warmed up after this and then she started wandering about and picking up sticks like her big sister so I got some lovely reportage photos of her exploring the woods. Mum said, “I can’t stop looking at them, they are so good. I didn’t expect so many gorgeous ones of Mollie as she was so clingy!”
Sometimes the challenge isn’t with shy children, it’s with the ones who don’t sit still, which is absolutely what toddlers are about. My second is almost 2 and a half so I’m more than aware how exhausting they can be! Parents think they won’t get a photo of them together and although I can never make any promises, I will always try my very best. Albie was very laid back and relaxed with me so he was almost instantly bringing me leaves and sticks. So rather than force him to sit down and squirm, I go with it and the majority of photos are of Albie being Albie and enjoying the woods! His Mum said, "I just wanted to say a huge thanks for the gorgeous photos we received of our bluebell shoot. Despite Albie being on the move wanting to explore the woods you got some great family photos and some individual shots that capture his personality so well! The shoot was really enjoyable and thank you for being so adaptable with Albie."
Babies can be challenging for an outdoor shoot – it’s usually best if they’re around 6 months so they are at least sitting up relatively independently. As well as the family group shots, I always like to get sibling photos and individual shots of children. With babies, I tend to do this lying on a blanket so you get a bit of bluebells in. Mum and Dad always help out here to get some smiles and beautiful baby expressions. On this occasion, I also had big sis jump in for a cuddle which made for some cute shots together.
The key is to let the children be themselves – I always talk to them about things that interest them like their favourite film at the moment or what they’re doing over the weekend. It’s important too to get down to their level (squatting is all good practice for my yoga!), not only for the photos, but to make myself accessible and less intimidating. The idea is that the whole family enjoys the photo shoot and it’s like any walk exploring the woods, I just happen to be there to capture the experience!
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