We’ve all seen them on our Instagram feeds — cute kids striking poses in stylish clothing. Ever wondered how their mums managed to capture these moments perfectly on camera?
Mummyfique has gathered tips from Indah Lim (@limindah), Irene Tan (@rafael_faelfael), Kerry Seymour (@pipersienna), Marissa Kie (@ruslitwins), May Ong (@mayo923), Wendy Tan (@wendology) and Zeon Chong (@zee_league), who share their insider tips on how they get their little ones to co-operate in front of the camera.
#1 Keep the sessions short
Kids have a short attention span and it becomes even shorter when there is more than one child in the picture.
When Marissa takes photos of her fraternal twins, Cassandra and Noel, together, one is likely to start disturbing the other after a while, and it’s not a pretty situation if it carries on for too long. That’s why she has a time limit for each photography session — just 10 minutes, when she shoots the twins who have 10,700 followers.
According to Indah, her daughter Bianca, who has 7,500 fans, can only tolerate a maximum of 15 minutes in front of the camera before she wants to go off and play, so Indah has learnt to work within that timeframe.
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#2 Be strategic as to when you shoot
Your little ones will give you the best photos when they are in a good mood, so make sure that they are well fed and well rested before you start, reveals Zeon, mum of boys Zac and Zeph who have a following of more than 7,600 fans.
Mornings and afternoons are the best times for Kerry to shoot Piper as that’s when she has had plenty of rest. With some 45,500 followers, Kerry would know best. “However if she’s not in the mood then it’s not worth getting the camera out,” she says.
Indah confines her photo sessions to the late afternoons as having a good nap puts Bianca in a good mood, and that’s the best time to take photos of her.
#3 Natural light is your best friend
Although it may mean getting out of bed earlier, natural light will get you the best photos. If you are shooting indoors, Kerry suggests moving them near a window where there is light streaming in. “This will help you catch the light in their eyes,” she says.
#4 Always have snacks with you – it can help put a smile on their faces
Which kid doesn’t like a treat? If you find them whining after a few shots, offering a snack might turn the frown around. For Irene, that magic treat is a lollipop for Rafael. Marissa on the other hand, always carries around an assortment of raisins, biscuits, organic lollipops and mini-buns.
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#5 Be flexible and keep calm
Frustrated that your kid is not cooperating with you and the camera? You’re not alone. These mums face the same problems. Instead of forcing the situation, just let them have fun and try again another time. Marissa speaks from experience: “If you start to get cranky, your toddler will sense it and you’ll have to handle a full-blown meltdown before you know it.”
That said, such situations shouldn’t mean that all is lost. “Some of the best photos are captured when kids are playing,” says Indah.
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#6 Show them their outfit beforehand
To ensure that Bianca is comfortable in front of the camera, Indah will show Bianca the outfit a few days before and let her get used to it before the actual photoshoot.
May, who often takes pictures of her boys Ryan and Ryo, does the same thing. She shows her boys the outfits she has picked for them and they discuss the different types of poses they could strike beforehand.
#7 Shoot against a clean backdrop
Your little one will pop more in the photo if the background is uncluttered. So it is best to make sure that there aren’t other people or multiple objects in the background. Mum-of-two Wendy posts multiple pictures of her children Hayley and Finley on her popular Instagram account that has some 12,400 followers.
She shares: “If you’re using a plain backdrop, the focus is on your subject and plain backgrounds will make them stand out more.” She also suggests shooting at the wall murals you can find in Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru, as they are visually interesting.
#8 Have a routine when you shoot
Children are creatures of habit, so start by asking them to pose at a particular wall or backdrop in your home. “After you do it a few times, they will know what to do every time you say you want to take their photo at that spot,” says Zeon.
#9 Be familiar with your camera and its settings
Whether you use your smartphone or a DSLR camera, you need to be able to handle your equipment with ease. “If you are fiddling too much with the dials during the shoot, the child will lose interest and move on to something else,” says Kerry. For her, the camera is always with her, with all the settings adjusted properly to capture any possible ‘magic moments’.
Marissa suggests having your camera on all the right settings before you place your little ones in front of the camera. “Your toddlers will be bored before you get the chance to tweak the different settings… don’t learn this the hard way like I did,” she says.
#10 Keep on clicking
If you think that one click is all it takes to get a good photo, think again. Even for these seasoned kids, their mums take multiple shots to get the photo that ultimately ends up on Instagram. “It doesn’t matter if you don’t get good shots with one click. Take 10 or even hundreds of pictures, and from there select the best few,” says May.
#11 Sing or play their favourite songs as you shoot
Indah keeps a playlist of all her little one’s favourite songs handy in her phone. “Whenever we have a photo session, I will let her choose the song to play. This keeps her energy levels up. Her favourite song at the moment is ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ from the movie Trolls,” says Indah.
Zeon agrees that music is the way to go: “Kids love music and you usually get some cute photos when they are busting their moves.” May employs the same strategy when capturing Ryan and Ryo as they are always happy to hear their favourite tunes and this adds “extra oomph” to the poses they make.
Marissa shares that her twins like the song, ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ and start dancing when they hear it, forgetting that the camera is there. This is when she has gotten some of her favourite shots. Marissa also teaches them poses and actions to make with certain songs at home. When she wants to shoot, she just sings the song and her twins will start doing the poses accordingly.
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#12 Let them go freestyle and have fun when you shoot
You may already have a set of poses in mind that you want your minis to strike but sometimes “the best photos are those of them in action or from random moments”, says Kerry.
#13 Give them something to hold
Are they fidgeting a lot and looking uneasy in front of the camera? A toy or prop can help put them at ease, shares Zeon. Wendy suggests picking something small so the main focus of the photo is still your kid.
This trick may not work though, if you are shooting siblings, and Marissa avoids having them around, unless she is shooting only one of her twins. She explains: “They love to fight over toys, and even if you get each of them the exact same thing, they will still manage to fight, so I stay away from toys whenever I try to take their photo together.”
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#14 Avoid saying ‘cheese’
Thanks to societal conditioning, the word cheese produces a ‘picture face’ that is not so good for a nice Instagram photo. Instead of frantically getting them to look into the camera from the start, “go with the flow, and they will warm up after a while”, reveals Kerry.
#15 Use editing tools to make a good picture even better
Think that your photos might be lacking a little something? A few edits may be the answer and can help take your photo to the next level. Even professional photographers edit their photos.
Wendy suggests familiarising yourself with photo-editing programmes or mobile apps. “This is probably the most important determining factor to getting a great photo,” she says.