This time of year, lots of people are getting family photos taken with screaming kids, maybe grandparents, or even a fluffy pooch in tow and it may be tempting to call in the troops to help you manage it all - here I'm sharing tips for those who are asked to be a part of the fun and assist during a photo shoot! Over the summer when senior sessions are in full swing, it's common to have your mom or dad to come along to share in the experience and make it less awkward spending a few hours with a total stranger. I have seen lots of clients even invite along friends to wrangle dogs, grandmas to soothe babies, and siblings to hang out during their family portrait sessions too. I LOVE meeting new people, and am always so grateful for an extra set of hands! So, from a photographer's point of view, if you are considering having someone come along for your senior or family shoot, here's some things to share with them!
When the Camera Goes Up, the Volume Goes Down
I spent years as a studio photographer, where it was very common for a crowd to walk in with those being photographed. It's still common now, especially during family shoots, for sisters, friends, grandmas, etc. to come along to "help make the kids smile." The best thing you can do is watch the photographer and when the camera goes up, allow him or her to be the only one communicating with the family, kids, senior, etc. Your photographer has likely had hundreds of subjects in front of their camera and has some tried and true tricks on how to get their subject to authentically smile - in fact, you can read some of those tricks here! The photographer has a certain look or emotion they are trying to coax out of the subject, and it is the most helpful to allow him or her the chance to have the model's complete attention to ensure that happens.
There's No Such Thing As Personal Space
This is more for family sessions, but if a photographer does ask you, the trusty friend or mom, to help get the subject's attention, it's best to stand directly behind him or her. I tell people to basically jump on top of me. If you are trying to coax the gaze of a three-nager directly into the camera, it's best to have the person they are looking at or watching be as close to the lens as possible. Get all up in my biz!
Be a Pack Mule
Here's for all you senior moms and dads. I get this question a lot - is it normal for a parent to come along on a senior shoot? The answer? It's perfectly normal! About 50% of my seniors come to their session with their mom or dad. And as insensitive as it sounds, it's really helpful to everyone if a parent can be a coat rack, more or less. Senior sessions are all about the clothes, am I right? Without minimizing the importance of you wonderful parents out there, it's important that the photographer can get to know the amazing son or daughter you already know so well. Teenagers can be a bit introverted around strangers, and the best thing you can do to help your teenager feel comfortable is to show your quiet support by taking care of the details like holding and organizing their outfit changes.
Let Me Teach You Something
Here's a fun tip for anyone, at any type of session: let me put you to work. I love when folks are interested in the process of the photo taking, and not just focused on getting the subjects to smile. That's my job! I love, too, when you are willing to learn something and excited to help out! Something I've found that people are thrilled to help with is holding a reflector. The photo session as a whole should be an enjoyable experience for everyone, and I've found that when willing parents and friends are teachable and become involved in creating the photo by holding a shiny silver disc, they take ownership of the end product. They too become excited to see a perfectly lit subject, and how their small effort of holding a homing beacon for ET can affect the quality so much. So many people have a closet interest in photography, and I am more than happy to teach and explain anything and everything you want to ask me!
For the senior session highlighted below, Katie chose to come to her senior session by herself. I think it's wise to know yourself and know how you are around strangers, and if being alone with your photographer will push you to talk a little more, that's probably the wisest choice. Katie and I had no problem keeping the conversation going as she taught me about her interests, her family, and her inspirations for the future! I hope you enjoy the highlights of her beautiful session below!