Peekaboo & Snuffles – How a simple silly game can lead to much needed giggles and laughter in Children’s Portraiture.
I had the pleasure to welcome back one of my wedding clients from 2010 into the studio. Now living in London, Joe & Susanne were home in Killaloe for a visit and came into the studio to update their family album to include their two beautiful young daughters, Bellamarie and Rosie. I was warned at the very start – ‘she might be a little shy….”
I’m not sure how it happened but somewhere along the way I had to sneeze. And it was big one. And I thought I heard a little wee giggle out of Bellamarie and the “Snuffles” game was born. After that, it was all giggles, laughter and rainbows
So after a good 15 mins of that game and looking like I just stepped out of a tumble dryer, it was onto the family portrait where I decided to change tactics and employ the Peekaboo game just to keep things fresh! Rosie the youngest loved that game the best.
Sometimes we have to put our dignity on the shelf and be the focus of a silly game to get those much need smiles for a natural portrait. In children’s portraiture this is key to achieving natural expression.
The magic of laughter, giggles and natural expression in child portraiture.
In children’s portraiture, most parents ideally want natural expression from their children during the session and really want to avoid the standard ‘cheese!’ smile that so many kids have adopted.
Looking back at some of our recent studio sessions I stumbled across a very memorable session that took place here in the studio a few months back. It was an energetic session to put it mildly! With two young boys wired with excitement I knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge to harness all that energy and create a portrait that was natural and unstilted, yet controlled.
This is what I feel is the most important, yet challenging aspect of photographing young children – you don’t want to interfere too much with their natural character and it is sometimes a challenge to find that balance. The balance is a very fine line. Cross that line and sometimes you find your subject becomes too posed, reserved and throws you the big ‘cheese’ smile, which you just don’t want. We want laughter, giggles and natural expression.
But, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve from years of experience. We had to play a few games like, ‘Booger Daddy’ to redirect all that energy back into focus and when the smiles became a little thin on the ground, the ol’ Tiggle Stick made an appearance which soon brought the laughter and giggles back. I think the results are wonderful. The kids are happy, relaxed and natural. No cheesy grins in sight….
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