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Capturing Authentic Children Portraits

Lesson 6 of 20

Working With The "Feels Everything More" Child

Tamara Lackey

Capturing Authentic Children Portraits

Tamara Lackey

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Lesson Info

6. Working With The "Feels Everything More" Child

Lesson Info

Working With The "Feels Everything More" Child

The feels-everything-more child. (chuckle) That's the best way to put it. I used to call this the spirited child based after a book I read called "The Spirited Child" that says for all intents and purposes this child feels more of everything. So stimulation is huge. You often see this with the feels-everything-more child. A little bit of a situation that they don't wanna be in can be overwhelming. The stimulation can feel overwhelming. And, of course, this is not just children, am I right? All of us. But with a child it's often exaggerated. They haven't learned the social cues on how to hide it yet, so it's all coming out. Which I love, by the way, I love. I wish there were more parties with adults where we were just like, "I hate this! I wanna go home and watch Netflix!" But at this point, this is what she's doing, and she is melting down and she's not interested. I know with the feels-everything child I need to set a lot of expectation with that child. I need to say, feel free, I'm n...

ot gonna actually say to them, "Feel free." I'm gonna say, "Okay." And then I'll step back and I'll say to the parent "Do you wanna give them a heads-up that we're gonna move over to that tree and see if we can't grab some flowers? Why don't you give her a heads-up?" 'Cause if I step up, I'm gonna go, "Just so you know we're gonna go over to the tree..." It's like aghhhh! So we give the heads-up. They can slowly start to formulate this new idea that they're gonna go over to a tree. We move over to the tree, and I make it about the play, the interaction, the things there. Let them feel more about their environment 'cause they're in a cooler environment now. And I end up getting a shot like this, which I had on my Facebook page forever. But to me, I know that moving from this to this was an effort of using this methodology and that's why it worked. You see the feels-everything-more response with babies a lot. Right? (chuckle) Like they don't want this to happen. It's just so weird; it might be a little cold. They certainly don't wanna have to snuggle with a little baby, the sibling. What do you do in that situation? You change the environment and you give them a heads-up that you're changing the environment. You actually make the stimulation factor that's really overwhelming them, you ease it. So in this case it's like they're on a cold floor, right. It's not actually cold, but it doesn't feel good. They're sitting on the ground. It's like kinda rock cement. The baby's kinda being squeezed in 'cause we're trying to get a shot. And we're like let's calm it all down. So what we did is I have just a really kinda fluffy, one of those bigger fluffy blankets, putting on the ground. They're right underneath a window. I'm just bouncing light back, the reflector. Baby's kinda settling in a little bit. The baby doesn't have to do anything. In this shot, I wanted the baby to look at me. Here the baby doesn't have to do anything. Mom feels a lot better 'cause she can just, like, all right, it's calming down. And I have to pretty much just engage him. And now he's not squeezed together with his brother so he's not bummed out. They're on a soft thing. I've managed a lot of the stimulation that was bothering them. Other times the child who feels everything, one of the things they feel is just out of control. They are bouncing everywhere. They are doing everything. You cannot get them to be in one spot. What I will do is, A, like I did with the child that is a superstar, wait it out a little bit. The difference between the child that's bouncing around everywhere as the one who feels everything and the one who's the superstar is this, the superstar's bouncing around everywhere and then looking to you to get it. The one who feels everywhere is just bouncing around, doesn't even know you're there and certainly doesn't want to respond to you. They're just bouncing around. So what I'll do in those situations, is I will set up a frame in terms of the angle I choose so that the second they stop for just a little bit I'm shooting with a very fast shutter speed. I've got my lighting set, and I fame it so I get something of them doing whatever they're doing. And I get the shot I want. That's how I'm responding. I mentioned earlier that my youngest daughter has this kind of very interactive style, and she will say to me nearly all the time, "What do you want me to do?" And I'll have to talk to her about it. We actually had her come out for our Masters workshop we did at the beginning of this year and we were photographing in this beautiful theater with great lighting and really cool, funky things. I say great lighting. Challenging lighting that was great when you used it well. So it's this beautiful restored theater. And we finished with the shoot, we're walking out, we're going back to the cars, and there's this parking garage with this gorgeous light. It's just a cool garage, the way the light's popping through. I love it. I have her step right in front of us 'cause she's done. I have her step right in front of us, and I said, "Oh, let's do a pose." and she literally stands there and goes, "What, what?" And I'm like, "Just move around a little bit." And she's like, "What do you want?" You've gotten this child, right? Like they're not being mean or whatever, they just genuinely don't know what you want. I said, "You know what, let's cut out this whole thing where you have to look at us whatsoever. You've already been posing for two hours. You are pretty much done, and you're not sure what's left." I'm like, "Just look towards the light. That's all you have to do. Put your hand up and down, put your hand up and down." And I get one shot like that, and that's the shot I get.

Class Description

Each child is unique and needs different techniques to draw out the most authentic portrait. Acclaimed family photographer, Tamara Lackey, talks through how to quickly identify the characteristics of a child and the posing techniques and direction that can lead to a fun session with great results. She’ll cover:

  • The 6 basic personalities that children may show up to a photo shoot with
  • How to draw out a shy child in front of the camera
  • Tips for photographing the children who don’t want to be there
  • Gear and accessory considerations for family shoots
  • How to build to a natural pose

Have the confidence and the technique to capture an authentic child portrait in every session no matter client or their mood!



Tamara Lackey brings amazing energy to her teaching and shooting style. She shared a ton of tips and tricks for capturing the true character and personality of each child in both individual and group portraits. I have always found it to be particularly difficult to capture portraits of multiple children that are composed to be both visually interesting and true to their unique story. I learned so much about directing and communicating effectively with child subjects, and how to use my gear and other tools to streamline the process and keep it all fun for the family. No matter how much you think you know about photographing children, this class is an asset that you will not regret! Thank you Tamara Lackey!

Heidi Mikulecky

I love Tamara's tips for working with common personality types found in children. I also love that class allows you to be "fly on the wall" during her photo shoots. It's so helpful for me to see how other photographers engage their subjects (especially children). Tamara brings a ton of energy, excitement and playfulness to her shoots. It opened my eyes to how fun (and how exhausting) a photo shoot can be when you give it your all. Great class!

Sara NAomi

This was an amazing class. Photoshop has been a huge learning curve for me during the past year and it was so helpful to see the quick and easy way you used levels to bring down brightness/hotspots. I will definitely be using it to improve the "ear" on the portrait that you critiqued. Thank you soooooooooo very much Tamara and CL for providing such great content!