Capturing the Older Child
Parenting means you constantly keep learning as your child goes into different developmental stages. Photographing your older child is no exception because it does bring new challenges. Their behavior changes, they're more easily embarrassed, they don't want to cooperate for a photo because of their looks or their mood or whatever is currently going on, and let's face it...we're just not cool anymore as parents. What worked when they were younger is not going to work now for capturing a smile. I mean, I LOVE pulling a silly face or singing a song wrong on purpose to bring joy to a younger kid but now that'll get me an eye roll or an "Oh my God, mom, why?!" So for anyone else out there struggling as I am with photographing an older child/teen, I thought I'd put together a few simple tricks I've caught on to. You can try these tips but every kid is different and you know your kid best so feel free to try different things with yours :)
Embarrass them...but nicely.
I mean, let's face it...it'll get a reaction, maybe a smile BUT I personally try to limit how often I embarrass my kid in front of friends especially and I don't want to go overboard. Going too far can mean a bad experience for them and we don't want that. One example of something I did was to tell my 13 year old to glare at me while in public. For her, it worked beautifully because of reverse psychology. In telling her to glare, it actually made her get slightly embarrassed with some people around and she laughed instead. She scowled when I first moved her into position so you can see the change here...
A good bribe is a productive way to get any age to cooperate with you. Just make sure the reward is worth the work without going overboard. This is the type of photo a bribe will get me if I'm lucky, maybe throw in a prompt if you feel it'll work.
I don't care if they're looking or not.
Let's face it, older kids don't want to look at the camera and sometimes it's not worth the fight. But this doesn't have to be a bad thing, I personally love some of the images I get when people are looking away.
Forget the face.
If they're kinda willing to cooperate but also feeling camera shy then sometimes it's helpful to put your focus on something else until they open up more. If they're doing an activity then focus on what they're doing. If they're nervously fiddling with something then focus on that. Fill the frame with anything except their face.
We may be the parents but they deserve to have their own boundaries in place. If they say "no," respect that. Go photograph someone or something else for awhile.
Document rather than pose or prompt.
I don't do this as often as I should but once in a while I'll stand back and just photograph what my kids are doing. Sometimes they know I'm planning it and other times they figure it out when they hear the camera click.
Get in the frame!!!
Set a timer on your camera, use a remote, or ask someone else to photograph you with the kids. I'm not going to lie, it feels weird. I'm not a selfie person and I'm not often in front of the camera so if you're like me then this might feel a bit ridiculous but both you and your kids will be glad for these images later on. Your kids may be older but this is the youngest they'll ever be...