My Secret Weapon

Supplies are from Oh Snap! by Shawna Clingerman and Libby Pritchett


One of the questions I am asked most is how I get my kids to cooperate for the camera. Many people lament, “My kids just won’t do what I want them to do!”


I get it. I really do. But my kids are usually willing to work with me for pictures without too much trouble. Here are some of the ways I make it work.

1. My kids are used to the camera. I have it out all of the time and it is just a part of our daily life. If that isn’t the case for you, it might take a while for them to get used to it.

2. I rarely ask them to pose for me. I want pictures of my kids just being themselves. I know that when I am old and grey, I won’t want to remember the posed and “perfect” photos nearly as much as I want to remember the real and spontaneous. I don’t make my kids say cheese.

3. I don’t (usually) get upset with them, stressing them out with, “Say cheese! Turn this way! Turn that way! No, not like that!” Who would want to have their photo taken if that was what they were going to get?

4. My secret weapon: “If we get one like mom wants, we can do photos any way YOU want.”

(note: this works best with the ten and under crowd!)

Occasionally, I do want a traditional photo with them looking at the camera. Sometimes this is because I just want a photo of them and sometimes it is because I am practicing a certain skill/technique with my camera and I really need someone to model for me. If I want to work on getting tack-sharp eyes, I need a child willing to cooperate long enough and sit still enough for me to practice! So this is what I do:

I tell the child that once I get the photo or two I really want, I will take any photos of them they want. And I mean it! They often drag me all sorts of places and make all sorts of silly faces and poses. But they love it! They know that if they give me a minute or two of cooperation, they will get me for as long as they want. They love having control over the situation and they are thrilled that I would take pictures of all their silly antics!

Here are some examples from a few weeks ago:

1. I asked my seven-year-old to stand/sit in the woods while I played with the sun and sun-flare. She wasn’t thrilled (Her siblings were rip-sticking) but I told her we could do anything she wanted afterward. I got these:

And then, for some only-a-seven-year-old-would-understand reason, she wanted me to take a picture of her drinking her root beer (a rare treat in our family). Done.

I wanted a sweet picture of my four year old because I loved the new dress she was wearing. I told her once I got a good picture of her actually looking at me and smiling, she could make whatever silly faces she wanted. Win-win.

Learning well from his sisters, after asking my little man to take a picture of him on the picnic table (jn all his messy-faced glory), he then wanted me to take “more pictures!” I was happy to oblige!

Letting kids have some control over the pictures really goes a long way in helping them cooperate. And I have sneaking feeling that the ones the kids direct just might turn out to be your favorites!