1. Build Anticipation
With kids and pets, (ok, sometimes adults too) building anticipation is key in helping you get the best reactions. Talk about what they will get to do and let the excitement begin. In this photo, I let the little girl stir the frosting and kept asking ehr if she would like to taste it. “Stir and stir some more and I’ll let you taste it soon!” Her smile started growing bigger and bigger. (Click, click.) “Great job! Ok, you can try it now!” (And now I’m photographing pure joy.)
2. Create the Moment
The simple truth is we can’t capture every perfect moment, but we can at least set up one! This doesn’t mean the shots need to be perfectly lit and styled, you just need to be prepared with your camera. With this puppy, I was in position ready for the shot. As soon as she grabbed one, her owner called her name in a low, questioning tone giving us that perfect guilty look. (Click, click.) Then the owner reassured her puppy that eating the treat was fine.
3. Lay Low and Wait
Sometimes, it’s best to lay low and wait for it. With many subjects, the best expressions or events can happen the second we put the camera (er, phone) down. After we had gotten “the shot” with the twins holding their birthday cakes, we could see their little hands start to relax. We all watched that cake fall to the floor and I kept shooting for their reaction. When we really thought the moment was over, and the twins had been helped off the hay to get cleaned up, one returned and started eating the cake off the floor. I’m so glad I was lazy enough to still be sitting on the ground so I could keep shooting!
This next photo of Mommy and baby is my favorite photo I’ve shot so far. I remember we only took about thirty shots before this one because when the moment happened, there was no topping it. It was the magical combination of an adoring mommy engaging with her sweet baby and waiting to shoot at the right moment.
4. Let It Be
Not every emotion or scene should be orchestrated. Many of my favorite photos are when things/events/people can act naturally. Only one second earlier, my little Evie was laughing. Things changed so quickly and this photo makes me laugh every time I see it.
5. Encourage Their Reactions
Our subjects generally feed off our reactions, so encourage what they are doing! On my sets, it’s always silly time and my subjects are always completely engaged with me because I’m encouraging their behavior. And if it isn’t the behavior I’m looking for, I quickly change the subject to get back on track.
Do you have a photograph capturing the perfect moment? Post it on our Facebook wall!
Have any questions or need some specific advice on capturing the moment? Submit your questions here and I’ll answer all week!