I call myself the Zen Master of the two year olds. I seem to attract a whole lot
of em in my studio. And as a result I got fairly good at photographing them.
What's more challenging than a two year old? An 18 month old of course. These little people are balls of pure emotion and mood, and the closer they are to baby age, the more out of control they are.
What's better than a two year old? A two and a half year old (little guy on top is this age). As they pull away from that magical number two, they get better and more manageable.
But, you need to use certain strategies to guarantee success just about everytime. I have a near perfect batting ratio in this area so I get to brag.
As a matter of fact, I am so confident in these strategies, about 3 years ago when speaking to a group of 65 photogs at an all day photography workshop, I requested, and got, a two year old to perform a live model shoot in front of everyone.
And I pulled it off. (I admit to you, I was asking myself before hand: What am I getting myself into!!?? This could blow up in my face!!!...aaarrggghhh...)
When mom and dad and two year old show up in my studio, I always sit and relax in the reception area. This is key. I do NOT look at the child. I converse with the parents. Out of my peripheral vision I watch the child. When I feel they sort of trust me and are comfortable, I then head into the studio, with family in tow.
Two year olds want to be with their moms and dads, so family portraits are the easiest. Getting them alone is tougher, but do able.
I always let the kid act on their own volition. In other words, I will place a chair where I want the photo taken, and NOT say a word. They almost always go to it. If they don't, I go to plan B. What is plan B you ask? I DON'T KNOW. I wing it. This is called faith. You gotta just believe you will come up with something. Sometimes you gotta back off, go back to chattin with the parents, getting the attention off the kid.
Of course, I ask the parents beforehand to NOT instruct or look at the kid. If things go meltdown, it's imperative that we get the attention off the kid. They are very psychic and they know when you, or the parents, want them to 'perform'. Remember, I want them to act on their own volition. So stop looking at the kid with that look. And, never loose faith or show stress/frustration.
I want and need the kids trust. THEY decide how that plays out, not me, or mom and dad. This is the key. They have to feel trust and feel like your just a goofy uncle or aunt, mom and dad aren't......"acting all weird with that 'look', causing me more stress and are these people going to poke a needle in me, and why's everyone looking at me, and all this scary equipment and everyone's looking at me, and I don't understand and it's a huge conspiracy, I knew it, I Knew IT!!! SOMETHINGS WRONG, I can't handle it anymore......wwaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!! Run, run, run as fast as you can from this dangerous place. They are all out to get me, even mommy and daddy.....run!!!!...."
Know what I mean?
It takes time, trust and behavior. Two year olds will have it no other way. This is hard to do, takes time to master. You will get lucky and once in a while and a two year comes in and is a joy to photograph.