Let’s talk about a birthday shoot, where the end result is sure to be endearing but the process could just be as difficult; a child’s birthday. Is it just the celebrant and members of the family? Or is it the celebrant with a few friends? Is the photoshoot indoors or outside; Is it at your studio? Or you are going to the celebrant’s school or church or home? Is it at a park or any popular location for kids. These are easily the questions that will occur you, it questions your mobility. But these could be easily answered by the parents, or other facilitators for the event.
The hardest question you will probably get to ask, what kind of child is it? The child’s age? The behaviour; considering that kids are probably the most unpredictable set of people you as a photographer could work with. There are kids who are will give you no trouble and there are kids who will probably overrun the whole place. There are kids who will do as told, smile as told and there are kids who are so curious and will ask you questions upon questions. There are kids who will sit still and look uninterested, and there are kids who can’t sit still. There are kids who will throw tantrums or it’s a kid every adult, including you, have to convince to do something. It might sound funny or frustrating in retrospect, but having to deal with celebrant insisting a particular friend will not be in their picture or gets into a fight with a friend!
Let’s say it’s your studio, what is more likely to give you worries than a couple of kids running amok in your studio? Bumping into things or fiddling with things, like electrical wires or sockets? Is the studio safe for little children? Do you have the necessary props to get and hold children’s attention? Do you have a safe section for kids to keep them away from your working space?
A more often occurrence with birthday shoots is everyone else is ready but the cake is not around. Where is it? Can the shoot happen without the cake? This is where you are more likely to hear your clients, the parents of the celebrants, say no! Because they have already planned for the cake to be centerpiece of the shoot. You are now asked to wait and frantic calls are made into the whereabouts of the cake. And you have to keep a calm demeanour and be respectful towards your clients.
Other questions you might want to ask?
- When dealing with kids and they are a more than a few, the most important question: is the environment safe for them, and everyone else? A child can mistakenly spill water on an equipment or a little child could wet themselves and while nothing is unusual about that or dangerous, until someone slips in the puddle left behind.
- Also kids are often not good with glass surfaces, which could be your door. Are glass surfaces distinguishable or their edges blunt and rounded.
- How many people are to be expected? Are they family? Or friends? Will there be added characters or props, like a costumed character or food and drinks?
- Who else does the photoshoot depend on? Is it the baker? Or someone with the dresses to be used? Is there a family member or friend whose appearance is mandatory to the photoshoot? Like a parent or sibling expected to be there?
- Is the location secure and safe? Is it at a public place or a private location? And would it not be strange when your clients are looking through the pictures and can’t recognize the face of some kids in their pictures?
- Also important is your temperament when it comes to kids? How accommodating are you when it comes to dealing with children’s antics? Will you fly off your handle if a child appears to have developed a fascination towards your equipment and is mishandling it? What if the kid finds your work fascinating and keeps pestering you with questions?
Also, how do you handle this? How do you react and caution a particular obstinate child? When and how do you call the attention of a parent to their child? Without upsetting the parent or coming off in a wrong possible way?
So, at the end of the day, do you want to go home complaining about the shoot or deeply satisfied with a well done job? Do you want to complain about the birthday shoot and how some friends of the celebrants were running around and one bumped into you, and you dropped your camera? (and you had to be all smiles and reassurances that all was well when instead you were fuming with bottled in fury) Or do you want to go home and be eager to work on the pictures you took?
Or do you want an adult who blames you for bungling memories of their childhood? I hope this helps.
There are probably other questions, but hopefully these will go a long way in making it easier and fun to organise and carry out a photoshoot. But please do tell us your experiences with planning a photoshoot and how it went.
Remember, Stay safe!