I don’t know about you, but the two hardest things I’ve ever had to photograph are kids and dogs, and photographing both together can be problematic.
It’s stressful enough when you’re shooting for a client whose paying you a lot of money to deliver the goods, but when you’re shooting just for the family album, the level of anxiety goes way over the top!!! Self-medicating is one way to overcome the angst, and especially any misgivings as to why you accepted the challenge in the first place; even a self imposed challenge can occasionally strain the nervous system.
Sure, any fast acting Benzodiazepines such as: Valium, Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan would probably do the trick, but for those photographers that would rather take a healthier more organic approach, I’ve got just the thing for you. It’s very simple and over the counter.
First, I figure out where I want to shoot. Not just the location, but where I want to stand in relation to the sun to get the right light; whether it’s side or back light . Then I shoot several frames without anyone in it to get the proper exposure. The odds are that I probably won’t get more than one shot, or be able to bracket before whatever it is that happens doesn’t ever happen again.
Once I’m satisfied with the exposure, I place the kids and dogs exactly where I took the readings, and let them do whatever it is that kids and dogs do without direction from me. I’ve found that over the years, trying to give any direction is very close to being a pure waste of time. The best I would be able to do is have their attention for a couple of minutes before they’re done with me.
What I’m basically doing is to set it up as best I can and then shoot more of a reportage style and creating the illusion that I just got lucky.
In my online class with the BPSOP, I always get at least one photo of a grandkid and or their dog…or both. Two things I suggest to them for submitting a photo filled with frustration: One, to pay the kid something. After all you are taking up his time so why not offer to give him/her something. The pay scale will obviously depend on their age, for example a young grandchild that now understands what money is and can do, a quarter or two might work; maybe even a dollar. As they get older the pay increases porportionally. Try offering a middle school or a teenager a quarter and see what happens!!!
Two, the dog is somewhat easier, a treat will usually do the trick…at any age.
In my next post I’ll talk about my fellow photographers that sign up for one of my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops, and how to photographic kids and dogs while traveling.
-BPSOP Instructor: Joe Baraban