“Uncooperative” Children

I really don’t like calling children “uncooperative,” especially at photo shoots. I hear that a lot, though. From parents. From other photographers. Even from their siblings. They won’t stop sticking out their tongues. Or they won’t take their hands out of their mouths. Or they won’t sit still. Familiar?

Of course, there are some children who are uncooperative. But most children who may seem that way are not. Most children who act that way are just nervous. They are under the microscope and they don’t know how to act in a somewhat uncomfortable situation.

Let’s talk about this issue as it relates to adults. I was recently askedto take head shots for a group of students enrolled in a Masters Program. There was a white backdrop and a stool for them to sit on. Seems pretty simple. Sit on the stool. Smile. Take a picture. Well… if it were that easy, they wouldn’t need me. What makes it hard? Many, many people don’t like being in front of a camera. They get uncomfortable. They put on their “camera face,” which is, essentially, a posed smile. Some people are great at the posed smile. And some are terrible at it. I like to talk to people to get them to loosen up a bit. Small talk — even asking silly questions that will inevitably evoke a happy response and, therefore, a real smile. And still I get people insisting on their “camera face.” And hands are in strange places. And posture is bad. And when I ask them to please move their knees slightly to the right, they turn much further than I’d requested. And and and.

Are these people being “uncooperative?” I would suggest not. I would guess that they’re doing their best in a situation in which they are less than comfortable.

And that’s the benefit of the doubt I give to children as well. They do funny things with their tongues because they’re uncomfortable. And with their hands and with their language.

And that’s why I love taking pictures the way I take pictures. Because it’s all about the kiddos. We run and jump and play and chat and the camera is not the center of attention — the child is. And the camera either fades to the back or becomes part of the new normal. And then you get the magical photos — the real kid.

As always, at Pollack Photography, we’re focused on you.

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