5 Ways to Make Your Kids Excited to Be in Front of the Camera

I have three little boys.

As you can imagine with three little ones you run into a major problem when taking photos. They never stay in one place for long. I can’t even turn on my camera before they have disappeared!

Even with my own little band of chaos I still manage to capture images that I cherish, images that are full of laughter, creativity, and the boys individual spirits.

Here’s 5 ways you can get your kids to be excited to participate:

  1. Talk Up Not Down

    Kids LOVE to participate, they love to be a part of a process. Get down on their level and have an adult sounding conversation of what kind of photo you want to create. Make them feel the importance of the role that they will play. My conversations usually go something like this: “hey guys! I had this idea I wanted to try for a picture. I want to get a feeling for the craziness that is a part of our day. So I’m going to put this laundry basket here and fold some laundry with the baby in my lap and I just want you guys to run in circles around me.” Talking to them in a serious adult voice makes them feel like they are about to participate in something very important and they are usually eager to follow instructions.

folding laundry with kids

2. Be Prepared Before Hand

Have your camera set up, your settings adjusted, your focal point set. That way it’s easy for them to pop in, participate and pop back out. You’re keeping it simple and focusing on the fun.

mom cuddling baby

3. Ask For Ideas

It feels good when someone asks you a question and truly values your input doesn’t it? Kids feel the same way. Ask them what they would like to do, what ideas they have, or what would make the picture better. A lot of times their ideas are completely off the wall (my sons favourite “let’s all pretend we are picking boogers!”) but sometimes you get real gems! Even if their ideas are not ones you love (or won’t print for a family album (ahem boogers) take the photo anyway and laugh together as you look at the back of the camera.

My kids and I will ‘trade’ ideas. I’ll do my idea, then one of theirs, then one of mine.

4. What Do They Love?

Ask if you can photograph something you know your kids are really into. My second son will let me photograph him all day long if it involves showing off his toy tractors. You can ask them to show you how they play with it, or draw, or paint, or skip rope. These images capture a real segment of your children’s lives.

It doesn’t even have to be a physical object. Some of my favourite images are us sitting just talking about what they love. Their eyes light up, the laugh, they chat, they smile real big when they mention something they like and you respond with “you LOVE Spiderman!?” in a shocked happy voice.

boys playing with blocks and trucks

5. Reward Good Behaviour

Always - ALWAYS - end on a high note so that they will be excited the next time you approach them camera in hand. I usually dance to the kitchen going ‘who wants a special snack?’ or ‘who want’s to build a huge block tower with me?’ I offer something that I know they love, making photo taking feel like a rewarding task rather than a chore where mom is begging them to ‘say cheese’. I’ve even heard in my house “hey mom, I’ll trade you a photo for a cookie!”

mom kissing son

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My Little Photo Buddy

boy with camera

Conlin turns in his sleep, grasping his soother while Elliot lets out a little grunt. They are both sound asleep and Caden is in the awkward stage of feeling sluggish but not wanting to do anything about it. His mind is not on rest or quiet play, but instead on the snow outside. The snow which absolutely fascinates him. He runs to the window as it falls and begs to go out and build more snowmen then watches in dismay as the head of his previous snowman tumbles off from the warmth of the sun. More snow will fall I tell him, but we have to be patient. A hard thing for a boy his age. But he is satisfied to wait when I hand him the camera, show him how to peek through the top, and we head outside to tell the snow to ‘say cheese’. He would stay out all day if I let him but the babies are stirring and his little fingers are getting numb.

Stolen moments with just him, so precious to me, feeding into his curiosity and creativity. I hold those so close to my heart. Bonus for me…might have a future photography buddy? or three!

jessalyn prins family photography
jessalyn prins family photography

The First Snowfall

jessalyn prins family photography

The first snowfall of the year is like a mini Christmas to me. It brings back so many beautiful memories of growing up with my fourteen siblings. Mom was a great believer in spending as much time playing outside as possible - and cold weather wasn’t a deterrent to the great outdoors; just add layers. Seeing that snowfall brings me right back to the giant snow forts we would make, rolling our snowballs until they were so big we could barely move them and would have to call a sibling to help. Snowball fights, snowmobile rides, sledding, and skating. Our winter season was filled with wonderment as the first flakes fell. I remember the great big bowls of popcorn and steaming cups of hot chocolate Mom would have ready for us as we came in from the cold; cheeks bright red, mittens soaked and full of stories of who did what and what we had just created in our own winter wonderland. The older I get the sweeter these memories are; I am sure there were lots of tears and fights and snowballs that were thrown just a bit harder than they should have been but those moments don’t stick as much as the ones full of laughter and joy.

Jessalyn Prins Family Photography

Today was the first snowfall of the season and I felt like a kid again dressing up in my winter gear, helping the kids into their coats and hats and mitts. We trampled through the snow making snow angels, building snowmen, tossing snowballs, Conlin eating handfuls of snow and Elliot snuggled and sleeping in the crisp air. Then we headed back inside for salted popcorn and mint hot chocolate; and my heart just swelled inside. I want my kids to remember their winter memories with the same fondness I have; to carry on the tradition with their children; to love the outdoors no matter what the season and to get so lost in play that you only realize it’s time to go in when your mittens are frozen and your fingers are numb.  

Sunshine, Strawberries and Best Friends

Nothing says summer like sunshine, strawberries, and best friends.

Summer is drawing to a close and I am so happy to have been able to capture so many of my boys adventures. Most of the images of Conlin are the back of his head - he just likes to run, run, run and the more pregnant I get the harder it is to keep up! Conlin actually stayed put as the boys filled their buckets with bright red strawberries; devouring the strawberries we put into his little bucket. Pretty sure we should have weighed him on our way out!

I love photographing children at play, I love being able to get down on their level, see the adventure from their perspective. I love being able to look back and see their smiles, the little messy hands, the tiny details. It will be so fun to look at these images as next summer approaches and we plan our adventures!

Capturing Lifestyle Images with Kids - 5 Tips for Better Images

About Jessalyn Blog Post-13.jpg

I sometimes get asked what ‘lifestyle’ photography really is. To me, lifestyle photography is a perfect blend of documentary photography - or capturing life as it really is - and loose posing.

For example: the image above is 100% documentary. Pantless, winter hat in the scorching heat, and a lollipop. That’s exactly how I found him and happened to grab my camera fast enough to capture this phase of toddler hood.

jessalyn prins photography family and lifestyle photographer

However this image is more lifestyle: this is an everyday childhood moment that I wanted to portray. I found a perfect patch of light, set out an egg carton and some markers and invited him to come color. I stood out of the way and captured what I saw.

I love capturing and documenting their childhood both ways! But honestly, I don’t always have my camera in arms reach so I like to recreate parts of their childhood.

Here are my 5 tips to capturing lifestyle images:

  1. The vision: simply decide what you want to capture. Does it make you crack up every time your baby dumps oatmeal on his head? Or maybe it is the little lullabies your daughter sings to her dolls. Or the way they sit and race their dinky cars over the hardwood floors. Take a few minutes to think through what piece of their childhood you want to capture.

  2. Set the stage: find a nice spot in your home with even lighting. Pick up and move anything that might distract from what you are wanting to capture. Set up the props.
    Have your camera ready! Make sure there is room to take photos, adjust any settings, and have it ready to go.

  3. Invite your subject: invite your child into the little set up you have made. Don’t bribe them, or try and convince them they need to go over there, just nonchalantly invite them as if it isn’t a big deal, and it might just be a grand old time.

  4. Sit back, don’t say anything and capture what you see. This is where you really get those sweet emotions, the realness of the moment, and what I believe is the magic. Just let them be and when they are done, thank them for coming over and playing in that space.
    Remember to move around (as subtley as possible) and get several different angles - on their level, above them, off to the side. It makes a wonderful series of images.