Never work with Kids and Animals? Tales from a Photo Shoot

It all started out at Christmas, the usual family & friends all getting together, a good old catch up. A few people ask ‘what have you been up to lately? & so, what did you get for Christmas?’ That’s when I said I had started to get involved in photography, not just happy snaps but Landscape, Seascapes, Fine Art Photography. A few people of course asked to see some photos. There were a few oohs and ahhs which made me feel really chuffed. I thought I was doing OK and was happy with some of the photos I had taken.

Then I had a cousin complained about a photo shoot she had arranged with her daughter and showed me the photos, a bit hit and miss and the child did not engage. I thought even I could do better and I guess it showed on my face! She asked if perhaps I could take a few photos. Sure I said why not, how hard can it be. I said I was only just starting out and she said she was happy for me to use Miss T as a model.

I cannot believe it has taken this long, a few hiccoughs and postponements along the way, but on the weekend we finally had our shoot. I must admit I was as excited as Miss T  for this shoot. I had arranged some props and accessories and had started making a scrap book  of sorts with kids photos I adored and wanted to emulate.

“Never work with kids and animals”

Don’t listen to them! I spent hours with 7 year old Miss T, her 2 enormous Rottweiler dogs (Chaos and Halo) and 4 of their pet snakes……….Dad is a Snake Wrangler by trade and the house is full of snakes, frogs and various other reptiles! I had the time of my life! We played dress ups and I even let her take photos with an old camera of mine, she got to pick which items she wanted to use from my suitcase full of props and accessories and she even suggested a few shots we tried with great success. Her imagination was on fire and nothing was beyond my little actress. The photo of her with Tinkerbell (one of my favorites) she was just sitting on the ground in front of a white sheet, I said sit like this and put you hands out and I can make Tinkerbell appear in the photo. I asked her to pretend to look shocked and she did! The Photo is so perfect, I took a lot of photos (many are very blurry and did not work due to so much movement with kids, dogs, snakes – I should do a blooper roll!), but I sent this one to Miss T the next day and I got a message from her parent saying she was so excited and they were thrilled and could not wait to see the rest. I was feeling very very proud. I also thought ‘I can do this’ I can work with kids.


Maybe I am naive? Maybe it was just a fluke with a great kid? I will find out soon, I now have requests coming in for other shoots as well! . I did figure out a few things and learn a few more, that I will offer;

  • Make a plan……….a rough Mud Map if you will, of what shots you want to take. Keep it simple no more than say 2-3 per hour. It is also dependent on the age of the child. Miss T was such a quick study we did more than that, but you couldn’t do that with a baby.
  • Don’t panic if things are not going to plan, go with the flow. If the child is getting bored, offer to take them to a local park (with parents permission of course), take the camera and get shots there too.
  • Take an old camera if you have one and let them take some photos as well.
  • Engage the child, find out what their interests are, if they like stories, books or movies. Talk to them as a small adult, do not be condescending,  just because they are young & small, does not make them stupid! Listen to their ideas (it may just make the perfect shot, especially if it’s something they want to do). And don’t be afraid to get down on the floor. Eye level and lower can make for some great shots and the kids react well to it.
  • Snakes Fart! I had never really thought about it, but I found out they do – which brings me to another possible issue; mess! kids and animals make a mess from time to time. Whether its spilled confetti or bubble mixture, or a snake doing number 2, remember anything can and usually will happen – be prepared!
  • Remember to have fun………..don’t fake it, kids can tell. Miss T had a blast on the weekend and now thinks I am awesome!!!!!!!!!!! I think she is pretty cool too.

I just found out another niece is expecting…………so score more photo ops (eventually). I would love to do some newborn shots, wow I bet that will require some patience! Well hopefully this will help someone, somewhere. Maybe I will do a blooper Post next!

– Julz


2 responses to “Never work with Kids and Animals? Tales from a Photo Shoot

  1. Pingback: Photo101 – Triumph | Julie Powell – Graphic Artist

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