How To Communicate With Children When Taking Photo?

  • Your friendliness is communicated to a child by visual and oral means. The very young baby is hardly aware of you, being first attracted by bright lights and later by colors and sounds. Your first conversation with him consists mainly of squeaks and finger-snapping, but, when you talk to him he will recognize warmth and sincerity in your voice long before he understands the meanings of the words.

  • Certain sights and sounds induce many babies to smile at about the age of one month. This is the beginning of a sense of humor which is later developed by means of play. He begins to understand the expressions on your face. Experiments have been carried out with 'smiling' masks and `crying' masks. If you don a 'smiling' mask and look at a baby he will often return the smile. But the 'crying' mask only makes him anxious. It is wise to remember that a child will often reflect your own expression.

  • Sometimes when I have been photographing a child laughing, I have deliberately assumed a serious expression and changed the child's mood.

  • Even when the child begins to understand the meaning of words, the manner in which they are said is far more important than the actual meaning. I have found that when I have photographed a Chinese or a German or a Scandinavian child who has not understood one word of English, it has only been necessary to employ the same methods and say the same things that I would have said to an English child. The response has been exactly the same. My feelings have been conveyed entirely by tone of voice. It is possible to say to a child 'You naughty boy' in such a way that will make him chuckle with glee. But by changing the voice inflection the same words can reduce a sensitive child to tears.

  • I never underestimate the intelligence of children or talk 'down' to them. Even the volume of your speaking voice is important. While one child may shy away from you if you speak above a whisper, another might positively revel in noise and may not even be aware of you until you raise your voice. With experience you grow sensitive to subtle indications of the kind of child you are dealing with, so that you can make adjustments in your approach to fit the mood and personality of the child.

  • A two-year-old bundle of suspicion can often be best approached indirectly. Thinking aloud or talking to a puppet will often convey your meaning without increasing alarm. It is sometimes said that 'little children have big ears', and take care that things are not said, to parents perhaps, but in the child's hearing, that could be misinterpreted. Little Jane's mother was concerned about a scratch on her little girl's nose, which she thought would spoil the photographs. I reassured her: 'A little re-touching will put that right.' Jane burst into tears and when pressed to give the reason, eventually sobbed, 'I don't want my nose touched.'

  • Conversation with a toddler should usually be a continuous cheerful chatter. But amongst all the questions about ages and names and favorite toys and prettiest clothes, between the guessing games and pretending to be frightened by Sooty, slip in advance notice of any adjustments to lights or camera. For although most children find these bits of equipment the most fascinating things in your studio, it is possible that a nervous child may be disturbed by you handling them, and might even associate them with not dissimilar apparatus in hospital. It is safest not to make any sudden moves or noises. Approach the nervous child almost as you would a frightened fawn.

  • The schoolchild has passed through his cautious phases and gained self- assurance, as a rule. It is often better to have him in the studio on his own. The presence of parents might inhibit or embarrass him, but by himself, with a little prompting, his talk will be 'like a stream which runs with rapid changes from rocks to roses'. In his short life he will have accumulated knowledge of an astonishing number of topics. Ask him about his favorite television show, about pets, sport, school (with disarming honesty he is liable to tell you he likes playtime best, or 'going home'). Ask him about his holidays and what he wants to be when he grows up. I have had many an interesting conversation with a five-year-old. But do not offend him by talking 'baby-talk' or by playing a game that is below his intellectual level.

More about Child Behavior Pattern During Photography

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