Picture Day At Akidemy Preschool
Today, I would like to share with you my photo day experience at Akidemy Preschool in Calgary and a few tips and tricks about how I photograph little kids and how I retouch those photos.
Starting out as a baby and kid’s photographer, children has always been my most favorite subject of photography. They are full of fun and energy. They look so adorable in their special photo day clothes and hairstyles! I feel like I’m shooting for ZARA kids catalogue. Those school photos can actually be used for modeling agencies, ha ha.
Once again, I was at Akidemy Preschool for student portraits. This time we decided to do it in the spring instead of fall, as the kids get better acclimated to the school and feel more comfortable on the photo day.
Whenever I come to Akidemy Preschool, I just want to be a kid again and dive into those activity tables with tons of different toys, fun materials and supplies laid on them. At Akidemy, they have such an adorable space tastefully decorated with natural wood furniture and pastel colours all around. An amazing place professionally desinged for safe, sterile and fun environment. If they opened this school 10 years ago, it was a no brainer to send my kids to Akidemy. Those days are gone and I am not a preschool parent anymore, but I am now a preschool photographer.
The preschool has a nice backyard with some trees, so I used this space to have a nature background in kids’ portraits. When the weather was cool or rainy, we stayed inside and took advantage of the pretty wallpaper they have on the school walls.
Tips and tricks to get a good smile
People often ask me how I manage to capture such good looking photos of kids. First thing first, you must break the ice with the kids and show your friendly face. This is most probably their first time getting in front of a professional photographer; at least the first they can remember. After spending quite a long time with kids photography, I came up with some tricks to get cute and natural looks from young kids during the photo shoot. One of them is giving the kids some objects like maracas, basketball, flowers or plush toys so they have something to hold in their hands, making them focus and keep busy. For example they love shaking maracas and this makes them smile. As soon as they hold the plush bunnies or kitties, they hug them or start pretend playing. These props are also great conversation starter. When the kids join in the tittle-tattle, they forget about being shy posing in front of a camera. For preschool photos, my target is first getting the typical or natural look of the child and then capture a variety of different expressions that parents would love to remember after years.
Some kids are not a chatterbox, so to encourage them for a conversation, I ask questions about their brothers or sisters, birthdays or what they will ask from Santa this year. When they start talking, I continuously click on my shutter button to capture some cute talking faces. When they are focused on the story they are telling you, they look quite like themselves, using their authentic facial expressions, instead of giving you fake smiles.
Some kids are hyper and can’t just stand still during the photo shoot. When I spot hyper kids, I encourage them to be active and ask them to jump as high as they can or reach for the sky. In the heat of the action, their facial expressions and body language can add excitement to the shot. I allow the child to be creative and try different jumping poses or styles. Sometimes their own ideas can lead to unique and memorable photos.
Another tip is using music at the photo session. I made a custom Spotify playlist that I use for preschool photo shoots. You know, baby shark, wheels on the bus or B-I-N-G-O, all those top tracks from preschool world. 😊 These familiar tunes make kids comfortable and cooperate better during the photo shoot.
The key point is to connect with the child and start a communication. When they see you as a friend, they trust you and relax. When they relax, they look natural and happy in their photos. Most of the time, parents are quite surprised when they receive their online proof gallery and see how capable their kids are when it comes to posing.
Editing is important
Preschool photos are important for parents, so they shouldn’t be taken lightly. As a portrait photographer, I am often asked by my clients to touch up their wrinkles, double chin, white hair or flatten their tummies. When my subjects are 3-4 year-olds, they don’t need any of those touch ups but they need others like editing out the goo around nose, a last minute bruise, stains on the dress… It doesn’t matter how beautifully their mom dressed them on the photo day, how pretty they fixed their hair, this all can change until the photo time. They can get cheerios in their hair, playdoh on their nose, their shirt collar may be folded inside, their cheeks may be marked with a pen. 😊 In my opinion it is also hilarious to take their photo with playdoh on their face, but I guess most parents would like a clean photo, ha ha.
So first thing before photographing a kid, I take a look at the child to make sure everything looks good and try to fix anything fixable. Even so, you may end up with unwanted looks on your portraits, because high-end professional cameras can capture the littlest flaws you normally don’t see with your own eyes, such as dry skin, a tiny mucus in the nose or sleep crusts on the corner of the eyes or food crumbs around the mouth left from snack time.
At Alpina Photography, my clients do not need to worry about any of these, as I do detailed retouching on preschool photos just like my business headshots. In the end, they take home beautiful, frame worthy portraits they proudly display on their house walls.
Preschool photo-shoots can be a great opportunity for some sibling photos. So at Alpina Photography I offer sibling photos for the preschool kids who have sisters or brothers. This is a great option for the parents who would like a quick portrait of their kids together to send to grandma. Capturing sibling photos while they hug, kiss, or play together can indeed be a priceless and heartwarming experience. Basically, the families bring their children to the preschool with them on the photo day and I give them priority so they can leave as soon as their sibling photos are taken. You can check our preschool portrates page to learn more about Alpina Photography’s preschool photos offering.
A few words on candid photos
All moms and dads know how kids hate to stand still to pose for a photo. The best way to get beautiful and genuine photos of your kids is capturing the moments as they naturally occur. Even for preschool photos I try to create sincere moments and capture a candid look or smile from the children. So it is best to avoid forcing poses or expressions; the genuine moments are often the most precious. Be patient and ready to capture spontaneous moments. Interact with the child and encourage them to play or engage in an activity they enjoy. This can help you capture their authentic expressions and reactions.
Enable continuous shooting or burst mode on your camera to capture a series of shots in quick succession. This can help you catch that perfect moment when the child’s expression is just right.
If the child is shy or easily distracted by the camera, use a zoom or telephoto lens to capture candid shots from a distance without intruding on their space.
If you like to capture some great memories with your kids you can check out our kids and family sessions here.
Here is a link to Akidemy Preschool website for the ones who live in Calgary and would like to know more about this amazing preschool. www.akidemy.ca