Three Top Tips for Getting Children to Co-Operate on Camera

Whether you’re simply taking a family photograph on the beach or working in a more professional setting such as a film or TV shoot, getting children to co-operate in front of a camera can be a real nightmare!

Whether they’re refusing to play ball, or are plastering on the fakest of fake smiles, children throw up a number of different challenges.

With that in mind, here are three of our top tips to help to achieve results which are real, authentic and most of all, fun!

Don’t say “cheese!”

While it might seem like ‘Photography 101’, saying cheese before taking a photo can actually turn out to be where a lot of people go wrong.

The issue is, it’s what kids are programmed to hear when they have their picture taken. The instant that they hear it, your subject will put on their biggest ‘picture face’ which they’ve been putting on for every photo since they were born.

While we’re sure they’ve got a lovely picture face, it just isn’t real and authentic enough.

Instead, throw in a different cue word to elicit a genuine reaction, and maybe even a chuckle or two!

It can be whatever you want, or maybe you can switch it up for every photo! Spontaneity will ensure that you get real reactions and timeless photos from the children you’re working with!

(Here are some examples from around the world!)

Create a relaxed atmosphere

This should ring true whether you’re photographing or filming anybody, but a relaxed atmosphere is crucial.

Of course, it’s extra true when it comes to children, and when everything feels as normal as possible, they’ll respond in turn.

 On the other hand, if you’re getting frustrated and chasing the kids around the set desperately trying to get them to do what you want, you’re either going to get children misbehaving and doing the opposite of what you want, or forced and strained smiles.

If you just take a step back, keep everything calm and show a little bit of patience, your subjects will soon go along with the shoot and you’ll have the perfect results in no time.

Try to distance mum and dad

When it comes to a professional shoot, the biggest problem in the room isn’t actually the kids themselves, it’s the parents!

The problem arises when mum and dad are too eager to help out to try and get their children to co-operate.

It’s totally understandable that they don’t want their children to show them up and misbehave, but when they start taking over and start trying to force their kids into co-operation, it’s only going to end up with a grumpy (or teary!) child.

We spoke to professional ‘baby wranglers’ Filming with Kids who said: “We always try to sit parents down before a shoot and politely ask them to let us get on with our jobs.

“Not only does this mean we can get on with getting the kids to co-operate, but it also means mum and dad can relax knowing that we’ve got things covered.”

Finally, there are lots of rules and regulations that come into play when working with children, so make sure that you’re up to speed with them at Film London.