It's the Candy (and the Softliters)
I learned this trick to use photographing children from a "Simones" videotape. They use a piece of candy to focus and maintain a child's attention during a photo shoot. The trick is to place the candy someplace where he or she will have to participate in holding it and hiding it from the camera. The lure is that the the candy can be eaten "as soon as we're done." It's the anticipation that produces the excited expressions!
You have to be true to your word and in a short while let them have the bounty. Give the child time to enjoy it, and this will let him rest, stay occupied, and get ready for the next bribe! Then do the candy thing all over again. By the time you are done with your photo shoot, you will have pumped up the child so full of sugar that the parents will have to deal with them for the next few hours as they "fly around the room."
When in a client's home, you want to get in there and set up quickly and break down quickly but still have that great studio light. I have just recently discovered a new light modifier that's great for this: Photek Softliters. I am sure Mike Johnston is rolling his eyes because I know he just loves artificial studio lighting. Not! LOL. But the truth is the parents have expectations of their "photo shoot," and the chances are they expect to see professional equipment. (They don't realize the best shots are really done when you capture your child in his natural habitat and in natural poses. You'll get to sneak those shots in, and they'll become your best sellers, but that's another post.)
In this session I worked on location at the client's house. You'll need to bring your stash of "the stuff," or, as the kids call it in underground terms, candy. I shot with a Canon 20D and the 24-70mm L lens. The pictures are captured in RAW and converted using Bibble Pro with no retouching. I had just picked up my new Softliters and this job was their maiden voyage. What a wonderful improvement over common umbrellas! They are much closer to the quality of a beautiful softbox than the harsher light of an umbrella. The light is first bounced and then diffused as it goes through the special diffusion material. One of the problems with an umbrella is the fact that they have a shaft that sticks out. This prevents you from getting close safely without appearing to put the kid in danger of a poke in the eye. The Softliters have a removable shaft, so once you set it up, you unscrew the shaft and you are hazard-free.
Tell your subject to hide the candy from the camera under his hands or foot and he will be all giggles and barely able to contain himself. This is rich shutter-happy territory.
The candy and the Softliters provided a pleasureable and successful photo session. That is what you want to walk away with at the end of the hour!
Posted by: PETER GREGG