Incentives (Draft 2)

I knew this would be a difficult subject to address.  Draft 1 kinda turned into a rant so it’s consigned to the WordPress ‘permanent draft’ folder.

So let’s start again.

My objective for all my family photo sessions is that everyone enjoys it.  It’s simple really: if we can make sure that the whole experience is a very positive one then the photos will reflect that.  As much as possible is done to make that happen – choosing a good location, timing etc – and from the moment we meet it should be obvious that this isn’t something that anyone needs to get stressed about: we’re just going to go out into the Park and take some photos.

I find that kids react to their environment.  If everyone is cool and easy-going they’ll relax and be themselves.  They’ll start playing and I’ll be able to watch them, encourage them, they’ll start to trust me and take some really lovely pictures of them.

It’s easy to go in to a photo session with expectations of how it’ll be.  In reality you might not have done this before. I think some parents worry that they might not get the images they expect.  Remember that all my work is shot with ‘normal’ people.  The pics on the web site are kids just like yours.

I’ve done this before.  You’re in good hands. I understand that kids need some time to get used to me, the camera and having their photos taken.  They need time to feel comfortable, reassurance that they’re not going to get into trouble for doing or not doing something so they can relax and play.

So don’t panic.  Relax and enjoy your kids and let me handle the photos. Don’t ask the kids to ‘smile’ or ‘be good’ because those terms mean nothing in the context of the photo session.

It’s not uncommon before or during a session for some parents to get so worried that their kids won’t ‘smile’ or ‘be good’ that they offer a reward for doing just that.  I have found that overall that’s not helpful – mostly because it’s too easy to get wrong.  Kids can become so focussed on the reward that it upsets the session.

Equally they can be so unmoved by the reward that they are impervious to it’s charms and parents are tempted to escalate the incentive (or even turn to punishments).  In this case we’re now fighting and the chance of pictures of a relaxed kid smiling are reduced.

I’ll try to illustrate:

Dad: Now you be good for the man
Kid: ????
Dad: Smile now
Kid pulls weird grin
Dad: Not that smile, your real smile
Kids weird grin just gets weirder
Dad: If you give me a big, real smile I’ll give you a treat
Kid just tries harder at the really big weird grin
Dad: No, that’s not it
Kid is now upset because they failed and won’t get the treat
Dad: Just smile for Daddy
A cycle of weird grins, Dad gets frusrated, Kids gets sadder cos Dad’s not happy. Eventually Dad notices Kid is sad and gives the treat to make it better.  Kid thinks he did good and it’s all over.  Until:

Dad: so where’s my smile?
Round we go again – Kid not sure what he did last time for the treat so goes through grinning-crying routine again.

But we still don’t have a photo.

Now these are hypothetical.  In reality, most Dads are Messers at heart (for their own kids at least) and when they realise they you’re giving them the best excuse ever to just kick back and enjoy their family we get what we came for.

So, in summary:

  1. Relax
  2. Treat the session as just a normal thing to do
  3. Don’t offer incentives or negative repercussions for behaviour
  4. You can reward once we’re done but don’t mention it during the session
  5. If your kids aren’t smiling then say or do something that will make them smile or laugh (just make sure I’m ready to photograph the reaction)
  6. Follow my lead for helping me get a good reaction from them

The Most Valuable Thing You Own

Eighty-one years ago today this little girl sat in The Waltur Studios, 141a High Street, Walthamstow, London E17 for a portrait.  It was a few days after her First Birthday.

She doesn’t look much like she enjoyed the experience.

I’ve no idea what The Waltur Studios charged my gandparents for this sitting or the couple of prints that survive but I’m sure that to them it wasn’t insignificant.  Given what I know of their circumstances, it wouldn’t surprise me if they went without something else to pay for these.

It was a gift to my generation that it’s now impossible to put a value on.

They obviously thought it was important to get a photographic record of their only daughter on her First Birthday.  In fact, considering the times they were pretty good at taking (and keeping photos).  My Dad have me a whole tin of pics from my Mum’s younger days.  If there was a fire (and everyone else was safe)- this is one of the first things I’d want to save (along with my own pics of my own family).

What makes this one truely unique is that The Waltur Studios printed their details on the back of the print and stamped the date ’26 Nov 1932′.

It’s been our policy to sign, date and identify each of our prints.  They are printed with professional ink and paper which is certified by the manufacturers for over 100 years (assuming you look after them).  I want you and your kids to enjoy these prints just as much as I enjoy having this picture of my Mum

Summer at Last

I’ll be in Limerick all weekend from Friday with the swim team so anyone looking for prints before the end of the school hols needs to give me a buzz tomorrow. I’ll be back next week (once I get the chlorine out of my system!).

Also from next week I’ll be moving to summer hours which means office hours will move to 10-12am and I’ll be arranging appointments around those times where possible. As usual, if I’m not out at an appointment I’ll probably be in the gallery at other times during the day but it’s best to phone or text to check first – 087 683 8511.

Updates to Family Photo Galleries

It’s been a while coming but I have finally posted updates to the galleries on the main site.

So there is some more recent work included there as well as some old favourites.  There have been a lot of sessions since the last update and it was hard work choosing a handful of representitive images.  I know the Misses will sit and look at pictures all day but I decided to limit the number of images on the Galleries to make them more usable.

If you want to see more just call in to the Gallery and we can talk about how a session might work for you and I can show you how similar sessions have worked out.

Also there are still no Wedding Galleries on the web site – that would need almost a full web site to itself.  I’m not a fan of photography web sites in two halves (no more than I am of highly animated sites) and I feel that talking through a wedding portfolio is so much better done in person.  It is an important decision to choose a wedding photographer.

Anyway, enjoy the new on-line galleries.  Any feedback is very welcome. There are some more updates due (including the commercial work gallery).

Lastly a big thank you to everyone who came back to me with consent to use their images on-line.  I’m proud of your pictures and I’m glad you are too!

Boys in the Park

More from the Spring sessions.  It seems like ages ago since I met Aoife and her boys in Fitzgerald’s Park.

Thanks again to Aoife and the Lads for a lovely morning in the Park.

Alison and Family

A big thanks to Alison and her kids (and her Mum) who were the first to take part in the Spring Promo before Easter.

(you can click on each image to see a larger version)

Never say ‘never’

The kids always want their photo taken when they get their face painted.  I’m a Dad, I usually oblige.  But generally it serves as nothing more than a record of face paint that at best stimulates a memory of a good party.

But now my kids have started painting their own faces.

Little Tiger by Big Sister
Little Tiger by Big Sister

And now you have an image which captures artistic endeavour, the relationship of three siblings and a boy who really is a tiger.

I never thought I would ever see anything in a picture of a child behind a mask of face paint.  Once again, my kids have enlightened me.