Most of us with children have shelves full of albums brimming with photos of our kids from birth to around 11 years old. Now we are firmly in the digital age, our Facebook pages are filled with shots of our children from our phones too.
But for some reason as our kids approach the teenage years the opportunity for taking photos begins to dry up. There just seems to come a time in life when we as parents are too busy to give photography (even on our phones) the same priority as when the children were little. Add in the fact that teenagers are less keen on the idea of being caught on camera, and it’s no wonder the photo albums and Facebook images start to dwindle.
It’s curious that social media platforms used by most teenagers, such as Snapchat, require persistent selfies. Nevertheless, teenagers still shy away from family induced photos, preferring to share snaps of themselves only with their friends.
But should we lay down our cameras when our kids hit the teenage years? The teenage years are such a time of transition and just as in a caterpillar breaking free from its chrysalis, our teenagers are growing up and blooming into adults. Doesn’t that deserve a concerted effort to capture some of those changes on camera?
Here are some great tips on enhancing your efforts to capture great photos of your less than enthusiastic teenager.
Treat your teenager with respect
Teenagers want to be treated with the respect afforded to adults. They also need their own privacy. Effective communication with your teenager requires effort, understanding and patience.
If your teenager doesn’t want to be photographed, communication is key to encouraging them to be a part of some family or individual shots. Let them know they can look at the photos and you’ll delete the ones they don’t like. Try not to make them feel uncomfortable – natural shots are better anyway. Above all, don’t make your teenager pose for a photo shoot they aren’t happy with. It won’t earn you their respect. You can try again another day.
Don’t force your teenager to smile
Some teenagers don’t like to smile for the camera. Don’t force the issue. If your teenager has agreed to a photo, let them be themselves. Don’t be tempted to direct them into an unnatural pose or position. Let your teenager pose exactly how he or she wants to.
Make it fun
If your teenager has a favourite hobby, why not suggest getting a photo of them doing the thing they love most? Start by saying how proud you are of their achievements doing dance/football/skateboarding/surfing or whatever their passion is, and how great it would be to capture that on camera. Your teenager might be more inclined to go for an action shot, than a carefully groomed portrait photograph.
Or perhaps suggest taking some photographs of your teenager with their friends so they can have a gallery on their bedroom wall.
Make it different
Your teenager is in a phase of transition. He or she is likely experimenting with clothes, adapting their look and generally finding out who they are as an individual. Suggest something a little different, and let them dress how they want to. Also, the photo doesn’t have to be conventional. Try a close up of their beautiful eyelashes, an out-of-focus shot, or even a photograph of them walking away. You may end up getting the shot you want if you start off by giving them the reins.
Make it a treat
If you’ve exhausted all avenues and your teenager really won’t play ball when you bring out your camera, why not turn the photography conundrum on its head. Teenage girls especially will love nothing more than to get a makeover and a professional photoshoot to show off to their friends. If the photo shoot has full hair and make-up pampering included, your teenage daughter will likely show a little more interest.
Using a professional photographer at home or going to a studio could be a gift or an organised treat for your teenager and a friend (don’t forget to give instructions to the photographer to get some individual shots too). Drop your teenager at the studio and don’t impose. Let them enjoy it and have their say in directing the shoot. You can pick them up later, along with the fantastic photographs.
Choose your photographer wisely and show your teenager their website so they get a sense of the kind of work they do. Boggio Studios have a great approach if you want your teenager to have fun and get some first-class prints at the end of it.
It may be a bit harder to persuade your teenage son (the makeover won’t have the same appeal for boys!), but the idea of a cool photograph with his guitar, or with a bunch of friends might be more appealing. Perhaps using the ruse of a special pic for Dad’s birthday will do the trick. If your teenager is approaching seventeen, they will need photographs done for the provisional driving license. Most photography studios can do those for you, so you can get a natural snap at the same time.