When it comes to family photos, the parent who makes the enquiry and books you is usually the person who’s idea it was have professional family photos taken in the first place. So I usually know before meeting the family that this half of the couple will be enthusiastic on the day of the session. Sometimes, just sometimes ‘the other half’ can seem a bit more reluctant to participate. They might give off the impression that there are a million places they would rather be spending their Saturday morning than taking photos with you! Maybe the family photography thing wasn’t their idea, maybe they feel really awkward, maybe they think the whole thing is a bit cheesy and silly. All valid reasons but a reluctant parent can be more challenging in many ways than a tricky child. Someone who blatantly doesn’t want to be there can suck the energy out of your session and make you feel rushed which is not going to help you capture beautiful, happy emotive images. Here are a few tips to make sure you handle the situation in the the right way.
Get to know them first
Encouraging both parents to be available for the over the phone pre-session consultation helps make both parties feel involved and get to know you. If this isn’t possible, ask questions about the partner who can’t be there. Do they like having their photo taken? Who’s idea was it to book? That way you will know what you are dealing with ahead of time.
Don't make assumptions
Don’t assume that they are grumpy or unhappy to be there. Perhaps they are naturally quiet or shy or they’ve got other stuff on their mind. Equally, just because the other person booked you doesn’t mean that they are really confident in front of the camera so be sure to spend time making them feel comfortable too.
Take charge of the situation
People often feel reassured when someone else takes control. You are there to do a job and that job is to take great photos. When you begin your session tell them how long it will last and when it will end. Talk them through the set ups to give them a picture of how it’s going to go. Don’t be put off or rushed if they seem unenthusiastic
Remind them of what you are there to do
It’s not stiff posed photos we are trying to capture but genuine interactions. You can’t get these by saying “ok everyone I want you to interact in a genuine way now”. You have to direct people, give them things to do that encourage genuine reactions and connections.
It’s easy to treat the person who made the booking like they are ‘client’ and leave the other parent trailing behind after you with the kids. But don’t. Chat to both of them to help them feel at ease. Help them see this as a fun activity rather than a trip to the dentist.
We all need a bit of reassurance sometimes. Especially when it comes to posing and having photos taken. Tell them what you are seeing in the photos, that they look great and that they are doing a great job.