Final tips from our professional photographer
Make it personal
“Naturally your subjects will want to look their best, but they might not necessarily realise what looks good in an image – T-shirts with logos can be very distracting, for example. Ask your family to bring an assortment of clothing that they feel comfortable in to the shoot to provide variety. Ask the parents to bring some props too – favourite toys, or anything that helps sum up their personality,” advises Neill.
“I never ask people to smile – you only end up with false, cheesy grins! Instead, keep the mood jovial and make ’em laugh. You’ll get a much more natural-looking shot. Tease the kids from the moment they arrive, and encourage them to have fun. The parents take a bit more work – I had to give dad a tickle at one stage!”
Get the kids involved
Neill suggested to the parents of young subjects George and Gemma that they bring favourite toys or items of clothing to help sum up their personality. This is three-year-old George’s favourite hat – he chose it himself and he’s always wearing it. Combined with his cool sunglasses, casual shirt, jacket and jeans, and relaxed hand-in-pockets pose, he really looks quite the dude!
Get down on their level
“I had been shooting from a standing position, but Neill pointed out that I’m taller than the kids, especially when they’re sitting on the floor! He encouraged me to get down to their level, so for this shot I lay on the floor so that they were looking down on me! I deliberately left space on the right-hand side, which allows the image to ‘breathe’, and I think it makes for a really striking composition…”
Go with the flow
“I learned that, above all, you’ve got to be really flexible,” says Paul. “While you have to control the shoot to ensure you tick all the boxes and get the shots that everyone wants from a session, some of the best shots are those that are completely unposed. So direct the shoot, but be ready to capture the spontaneous moments too.”