Five Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Photographing Families and Children

So happy to bring you another piece written by the gorgeous Mandii from Xanthe Photography.  I totally love the way Mandii writes and often find myself thinking "yes" or "me too" while reading - I also often have more than a few giggles while reading!  This piece is the last of Mandii's pieces that she has been putting together for the B Studio blog... bummed!  I am so grateful Mandii, thank you so much for all of your work - let me know if you ever have something else that you NEED to write about ;)    Over to Mandii....

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There are so many hints and tips for new photographers floating around. It seems like a funny thing to write about then. What could someone possibly write that hasn't already been read, twice? So, I thought I would draw on my own experience and share some things that I wish someone had told me when I was starting. 

1. Bubbles 
(Yes straight into the serious topics).  We all love them, and they can definately be a lifesaver, but seriously, leave those things to the end.  Have you ever tried to tell a two year old that they can't have something anymore? Do you think those adorable little cheeks are going to understand they can have them again later? No way. And that nice big stain down the front of their shirt from the bubbles is a lot easier to remove from the last few photos than from the whole session. Also.. ever tasted that stuff? It is gross. I know.. they aren't meant to consume it, but come on.. we all know it happens. It's part of the toddler food group. Plus bubble mixture stings those cute little eyes when they get it in there. So leave them hidden in your basket as a last resort. 
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2. Balloons  
Oh.... how much money did I waste on balloons? Rainbow ones, confetti filled ones, heart shaped ones. All because I saw someone do it on Pinterest. When they aren't being blown in the wrong direction by sudden gale force winds (I'm sure the forecast said light breeze), they are getting tangled around toddler's wrists. Then of course they pop and scare the hell out of everyone  because of that beautiful dry brown grass you had to photograph in right? That's if they don't blow away, leaving distraught toddlers behind. I might have even shed a few tears myself sometimes too. Helium balloons are expensive. So seriously.. let the idea go or keep it contained in studio.  And if they do burst, tidy up after yourselves.... those things are awful for wildlife.
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3. Props 
I know. You've been scouring your local markets, you've had bidding wars on ebay and have almost had accidents slowing down to check out kerbside clean ups. You've amassed a pretty impressive collection of suitcases, wooden crates, birdcages (what the?), toddler chairs, pedal cars, rocking horses, wagons and vintage wooden toys. You've stayed up all night crafting floral crowns and making mini quilts. Every trip to the store is another potential prop purchase. (Ok.. maybe this was just me.)  But.... guess what?  Turns out you don't really need all that stuff. Keep a few classic items, and make a pretty little fortune selling the rest. Why? Because unless that's your photography niche (and sigh.. yes those photos are gorgeous), you really don't need ALL of it. 
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Don't forget, whatever you bring along to the session, you have to carry that stuff everywhere. Through the field, down the hill, over the creek, five hundred meters through dry sand. Yes we are going on  a bear hunt and we are carrying half our prop collection with us. If you're lucky the mum and dad you are photographing will volunteer to help you carry it. And won't they really love you for that? Everyone wants to be a hot sweaty mess when they finally get to their photo destination, yeah? But Mandii.. I hear you say.. it will be worth it. They are so gorgeous! Ok.. yes they are. But I hope if you have two kids... you've got two of those delicious red wagons. And I hope you really, really love that red wagon, because it's probably going to end up in every photo now. 
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4. Snacks 
Have you ever had to photoshop a little one's mouth and teeth that's recently enjoyed chocolate... or Cheezels? If you have you'll know exactly what I mean, when I tell you to encourage your clients to only pack clean snacks and drinks for their little ones. And only small amounts. No big bags. So many times poor mum and dad have to desperately try and hide a big bag of chips in their photo that their darling child wouldn't part with. So, small, clean snacks, in small portions. No one really wants Cheezels to feature in their portraits, either in the final shot or on their little one's faces. 
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5. Mosquitoes 
Now this one is really important. Mosquitoes and midgees will ruin your photo session and your life. Be prepared. Have an assortment of repellants for your clients to choose from - some natural and ok.. some not so natural.. but hey they work. Nothing will bring a session to it's knees more than everyone getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and midgees. The little ones cry and the big ones swear. They are already itchy because of that pretty long grass we all wanted, and remember mum and dad are probably already irritated as they had to carry that vintage rocking horse half a kilometre? So now they are hot, sweaty and itchy. Oh you are going to have so much fun right?  It can't be avoided, but you can be prepared. Repellant. Get some. 
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Ok, so what should you bring to your sessions? I always have a basket with the following items and most of the time it is more than enough. I pack some neutral or funky blankets depending on client tastes, a well hidden small bottle of bubbles, small stickers, a hand puppet, a first aid kit, and insect repellant. Sometimes I will bring other items on request, like a small chair or crate, but honestly most of the time, some great games, a beautiful environment to explore and a genuine interest in your family and their children should be enough to create some beautiful memories for them. 
If the eye candy photos attached to this blog have not been enough for you and you want to check out more of Mandii's work... you can be checking out her pages... Website, Facebook and Instagram.

1 comment

  • Oh it’s been a pleasure Katrina! You are such a gem!

    Amanda Jones

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