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Tots to Teens

Lesson 12 of 35

Ages and Stages

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Tots to Teens

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Lesson Info

12. Ages and Stages

Lesson Info

Ages and Stages

as I said every age has a very definitive personality that comes with it and after so many years of seeing eighteen month olds in two year olds and three year olds honestly you can you start to get to the point where you just know before they get in exactly how things were going to go now every once in a while there will be a situation and this is something that you know I'll have a child that is not acting their age and I mean we've seeing children that even before their parents know we realize that there's a problem there that there's some disconnect that they maybe aren't acting like a two year old aren't acting like a three year old and sometimes by the time they come in the next time mom tells me of something that the child the situation or something that the child is diagnosed with and it's certainly not that we're doctors but you really do those stage has become very very imp according to you when you're shooting and you have to kind of to know them and you start to recognize tr...

aits with every age we're going to start with eighteen months because eighteen months is to me we're following up the baby program so we ended that at one year so the next time we recommend we talked about the marketing structure is back at eighteen months we're going to get them back in the reason we do that is that one typically the child is we hope for the siri's standing but not very mobile sometimes if the parent brings them in right at one a lot of times they're not standing and if anything they're holding onto a chair so we really wanted to show that action now eighteen months is absolutely barn on the hardest h to shoot period we always say that you know this is the most difficult age and this is where you're going to eighteen to twenty four months is tough because what happens is children babies at this age they have a very short attention span they're very mobile and they just want to move move move move move they're very busy and they never stopped moving their constant but the one thing that I think is really important that we teach is they can completely understand every word you say perfectly from the time they're one actually they understand the english language the problem is they can't articulate back to you what they think and how they feel so it's very hard because you may be telling them something they completely understand you but they just don't want to do what you want it's too and so they have their own little opinions but really important when speaking to me a one year old to a two year old is to speak to them as an adult instead of a baby because they do understand adult language and when you start talking baby talk it doesn't really make sense to them they actually if you just say ok sweetie I need you to sit on that chair they completely understand that instead of come on sweetie bt you know and I'm not very good baby talk so but it's something that honestly they completely understand you so if they're not doing what you you want them to do it's because they don't want to do what you want to do want them to do and you have to find a work around for that they're constantly in motion and this is the hardest part especially you know I worked out of my home for nine ten years so ah lot of times you know I people will say well you have a big studio you have more room trust me my original studio was my kitchen then I moved into a basement with seven foot ceilings then I moved into my master bedroom which I was there for nine years and that was a long skinny room and I had to stand in the bathroom um I literally had to stand on a sink andi open double door ways out of the bathroom and stand in the sea glean on the mirror in order to photograph for five people so I know what it feels like to struggle I know what it feels like to be in tiny cramped spaces but with an eighteen month old you know if they're going this way and you have very little room it tough to keep them in line and those are the things there are certain techniques you can use to keep them engaged and hopefully you'll see a lot of those today's because today because they do move so the number one thing we're going to tell you with this ages to get him off the ground I mean they will not stand still so this is where all the awesome chairs and the stools and the benches safety is paramount of course we want to make sure that there's a parent nearby mean even eighteen month old eighteen month old eighteen months old there going tio have accidents if you're not careful they just ram into and run into everything if they see something and they target on it you know doesn't matter what's in the way they'll ram right into it just to get through to it so this age chairs they're very mobile keeping them entertained keeping them busy ah lot of of of mind exercises saying certain things but the difference between eighteen months and two is really interesting because by the time they hit two they are much more articulate that khun communicate with you they still may not want to do what you say but honestly it eighteen months uh they absolutely almost without fail do not want to participate in anything that they just got their freedom their you know ford five months out running and that's all they want to do is run and burn all those awesome calories now two years they can communicate much better but they're still moving they still don't want to be stagnant posing is not an option there really isn't you know a formal pose for a two year old a lot of it is engaging them in activities giving them things to hold things to look at things to do they understand simple concepts like look there's a bug look there's you know there's a spider I mean depending on if you want them to stand still or not you could use either of those we have to change your technique is often often and this is where I tend to feel like I am a clown because what it is is you have a window of you know you've got about this much time with this toy and then you've got to go to this toy and finding things that are startling or engaging it's really important a lot of you know that I'm a chicken fanatic and we're going to show you the video of the chicken again just because I want to make sure you understand how powerful that technique is the chicken technique is really for that eighteen months to two year olds I mean that's where I used almost on a daily point so it too they're still very silly they're still running around we still use chairs a lot um and to me that's very classic to me a simple background a simple chair and a child is really all I need whereas the work I showed you yesterday with the limited editions there's nothing wrong with them they're wonderful but for me it used to be just propping the heck out of everything I would just buy and buy and buy and build and now I tend to find that simplicity is best for what I do and I kind of go back and forth because you know what sometimes I still have to wait we do still build those sets and about the time I build a fairy said I'm like oh I forgot I love this and a lot of it is just like I said yesterday watching the children and then watching the sale session when I see clients spending you know several thousand dollars on a beautiful fairy portrait you know it is a reminder that just because I've outgrown it does not mean that those families have so there's balance there as well there is no right or wrong you know if you if you love props and you paint white tricycles and put him on white backgrounds of clients enjoy that then you you know you've got it made but eventually you'll evolve into what is your classic style and I think that that's really important as well at three to four age three four years this is actually my favorite age this is the time where children are very much into imagination you have to understand they believe everything if you tell them that there is a very out there than there there is a very out there they see things that don't exist and they're so excited about that bo I had I had to mention yesterday I was told I almost ruined santa claus right so ok so I could talk about it so bo told me yesterday his kids were watching the santa claus secondment and they were trying to figure out why santa claus was in alaska so so is pretty funny so and so hopefully he covered it really well he said what did you tell him that they vacation she told him that's his vacation home that's his big coach vacation home in alaska so I've got that covered so I have to be very careful I forget the kids are watching this but you know at this stage they're how old is your child sixteen so right in that frame that where fantasy is everything it's right about eight where they grow out of it where they start to get in school and they hear things but really this ford you know six is really that really impressionable they will believe anything and it's it's kind of fun because for me I could take them through stories I could take them through concepts that you know you don't get to fantasize very much in life and um you know watching a child oh it is pretty exciting taking them in and showing the magic water and all this stuff is is really engaging for me so this is a good time for those limited editions for the things that you know that really are going to make a child believe that they are so when you put a child that you mentioned today the airplanes you know when you take a little boy to these incredibly big airplanes oh my gosh you know they walk in there and their eyes are this big and if they could touch the plane and if they could be near it and to me that's where the selling starts as well when that parent connects to watching their child live that fantasy they just can't not have that image it's a part of their life and it doesn't last forever so at that point it's you know to me that's it's paramount to to engage in those fantasies this is also the best time for me because they're old enough to bribe now I can really pull out the big guns and I can use candy and bribery and you know I know there are people out there that do not believe in candy and bribery and I'm sorry it absolutely gets me through the day it is how I get the job done and I will you'll never convince me that a little piece of candy is going to wreck a child's teeth or their personality or their sugar and dig but it could possibly make the difference between a good session and an absolutely amazing session so at this age again this is where we can get them into fantasies we could dress them up you can see it in their faces this is such an exciting age everything is sparkles and diamonds and big cheese and if they like you they love you and they love you like you would love your own child they will engage in true connections which is hard because eventually as children get into school that gets six seven and eight they all the sudden are hit with reality they have those tough moments in school they have those embarrassing situations and you go through this process of learning what the real world is about the time you hit school age previous to that kid's air pretty protected we live in a sort of a little bubble of our own family and everything you do is okay even if you do something naughty mommy and daddy still loves you and it's going to be ok so you see that in their faces they're pure energy and pure love and unfortunately until they hit that six seven eight and nine year old age all of a sudden you know they're hit with the reality of not everything you do is perfect and if you don't do it my way you're not right and you know that's where personalities that that's where the natural personality is here and that's where personalities start to be shaped into who you're going to be as an adult so this is a really precious time both from a parent's perspective and from the photography side of it as well now in five years this is where a lot of changes start to happen this is where those front teeth and bottom teeth start to come out so they get those silly little grins you know parents have varying opinions on whether they want to see that or not I love the toothless smile I think it's hilarious but we build product lines around that I know that clients aren't going to buy a beautiful you know formal portrait with the child missing their two front teeth however if I do it making faces which is a product that has multiple expressions and silly faces if I do that I know that we're going to get a product that's fun and engaging and kind of make sense for that look so this is definitely a time where you have to sort of have the parent's guide you if mom says something like oh she's missing her teeth so just keep her mouth closed I'm probably not gonna totally do that because I still think those smiles are fun but I'm gonna kind of listen to what she says and engage in the type of work that she wants this is also in probably the most important thing this is where they start to force those smiles they locked their teeth down and they make what we call the cheese now who taught them how to do that honestly mom and dad right I mean their parents taught them because well we do when are even from birth I mean when are babies their six month old and they're just they're six weeks old and they're starting to smile think about what we look like we're up above them going come on you know we have these dumb cheesy smiles because we're trying to teach a smile and that is what the child has been raised with for the last six years it's been come on sweetie smile you know and they're at home showing them how to do this so child perceives that as okay this is what a smile is and they locked their teeth down and they try to give the parents what they want now the problem with this is when they hit five and six and seven all of a sudden the parents recognised the cheese and they start to call their children out on it and the worst thing that you could ever have is a mom standing behind you say that's not your smile don't do that that's not your smile that is that is an absolute what we call a shutdown because if a child is standing there and they if you I want them to smile and they're giving you what they perceive as a smile now all the sudden mom is back there saying don't do that that's not your smile imagine the mechanical side of this for a child they're going now wait a second I'm getting in trouble here I'm doing a bad thing and so all of a sudden they're they're frustrated and there there there sad and they will shut down I've seen it that's you know and that's why whenever we do this age we have little conversations and I'll talk about them later but every age and stage when a mom comes in before I even pick up my camera have a short conversation with them but the time a child is five six years old when mom comes in I'm going to say okay now you know the I'll go through the process then I'll say by the way does she like ever give you cheesy smiles locker teeth down and usually almost without fail a mom will say oh my gosh yeah drives me now she has the cheesiest smile and I'll say okay listen you're going to see that today she's going to do that but I want you to not worry about it I see it too and I have some techniques that are going to get her not to do that but whatever you do don't tell her not to do that because if you do she's going to think she's doing something wrong and she's going to shut down so just let her go with it I promise you I see it tio not going to show up I will edit those out if you think I'm catching them I'm gonna edit them out but it just keeps the flow going and it keeps her feeling like she's it's a positive atmosphere and so you know for us that's really important to have that conversation because then as much as it's killing mom she's not saying one negative word for mom khun changed the entire dynamics of the whole session so so those four smiles air okay the way we handle that is we have them speak if you have them repeat things they cannot lock their teeth down that's why funny phrases there so important this is where you'll see it today and in fact this is why I wanted to give you this all today is we have all these agents and stages here today and so what we want to do is show you us uh working with ease s stages and just kind of check mark is we go on see how many of these things actually happen and I'll try to point them out as we go but I think you'll be very surprised that this just follow suit every single time so you're going to hear me say things with our older children like okay look right here and say mommy's a monkey now that's a huge one for us I mean I know that's there a couple phrases that we consider the big dogs mommy's mommy's a monkey is one of those but if you're going to say mommy's a monkey where should mamby right behind me exactly because if mama's standing off to the side and usually I'll do it in this form at all walk up to the challenge okay now do me a favor when I get back to my camera's gonna look right here and say mommy's a monkey okay don't tell her and you'll see me do that today and of course the child will immediate look at look at mom like okay I'm not gonna tell her and then all comebacks in the camera if mama's over here as soon as they go to say it they're gonna look at mom because they're gonna wanna make sure they're not getting in trouble for saying so I'll usually say okay sweetie now do me a favor I'm gonna go back to camel when don't tell mom but you're going to say mommy so monkey and then I'll say hey mom do me a favor go back behind my camera stand right by me cam okay don't tell her okay here we go ready and I'll climb I'll go back to my care minutes okay ready one and do you know what snap teo snap and then three of course I get that mommy's a monkey and they're looking right at me because moms right here and that's my third shot with shot is actually the most sellable out of those three one and two to is actually probably the one I mean it's like because what's happening is the anticipation that one is like their cheesing and buy two they're about ready to explode and then buy three when they say it it's a great expression but it's usually number two that is going to be the one that I'm looking for so timing is it really important as well when you are working with the child and engaging in a child you need to be alone aware of expressions and how certain things will engage them and where that point is that you're gonna want to catch so funny phrases air important another one that I'll just throw out there we use mommy's a monkey all the time daddy wears diapers is the big hit honestly that's the one that is like a complete and total shutdown but dad has to be engaged he has to be behind the camera and you know when we say dahlia wears diapers that's huge and keep in mind that third shot is gonna be a bust out laugh which may not even be portrait quality but it's it's just natural and parents really really love that I could tell you really funny story about that one might get kicked off creative live but it's it's totally out of a child's mouth so this's going to tell it I might regret this everybody at my studio is cringing right now but I told you children say the funniest thing I can't do it so do it thiss one way so let's see if the internet wants me too because you know I offend anyone this is just because you have to understand like my position I mean I've had kids I'll tell you two that way you can see where this is going I have this situation where I'm out in the field and there's two little boys and and a two year old and a four year hold this's bad I'm going to get in trouble for this one but I'm gonna have fun with it so I'm standing outside we're putting a little overalls this is years ago we're getting that I'm helping the two year old and the four year olds being helped by mom and and also the little guy's going hey lady look at my woody just and I'm just like I'm not saying anything and he's just yelling it's just like a lead and he's pointing and I'm like not gonna turn around and finally mom goes oh your disney woody underwear and so he was so proud of his little underwear and I was die I'm literally done is I was just like okay and she the mom loved we still joke about that we don't tell her son is like a high school senior now we haven't told him the story we're gonna put it in his yearbook that's been the running joke all the years you know how they do that page for the scene here we were gonna put it in there but when he figured he wouldn't like that so I'll tell you that one and I'll hold on the other one because it's pretty funny but I promise I'll do it sandy the internet was appreciative on that one so holding off no no you do the other one because this one's really cute and it was actually totally innocent because it's one of those things that when I say the whole daddy wears diapers I always have this like back of my mind fear that like what if somebody does you know I mean because you know what I mean you never know and I just wouldn't even though they wouldn't know I know it's still that awkwardness so I've always had hear why I had this cute this little session um a boy and a girl five and six brother sister and I'm photographing them and only mom was there that day so I couldn't use dad so I get them all set up and I come back and I'm like okay guys want to go back to the camera you know you're gonna say mommy mommy wears diapers okay and of course their eyes get really big and I said ok mom go behind the camera and she gets back there and I go up there and I like ok now don't tell her okay don't tell her one two and I get back to the camera it's alright guys and they go I said three and they say mommy wears diapers and I always follow up with this but this is one time I would get it and I looked at her I looked at them but I said no she doesn't does she and the little boy looks at me dead straight face and he goes well actually she does but there are special kind for when she bleeds I was horrified I literally okay so now that defended the whole world I'm little and mom literally burst out crying she's like oh my gosh I'm so close I cannot believe that she's like what time he walked in on me in the bathroom and I didn't know what to do so I told him the truth on I was like you never tell the truth I said tell him you're going to take him to target by him all the toys he'll forget about it so so now that I'm in trouble but the point is I mean at this age they just tell you anything I could go on for hours about the things I've heard just further in say but the truth is it's totally innocent they have no perception of negativity before they're in school for the most part and it's just totally pure and innocent so funny phrases can come back to bite you so be careful but those definitely are the two that you'll hear me use them today if anybody were to really take apart what I do it the same five things it's the tickler the chicken give me five imagination games it will always be that way for the last twenty years it has because that's just you know that's that connection games in addition to give a funny phrases which keep in mind funny phrases what what it does is it releases the mouth if a child is saying mommy's a monkey and it makes them smile they're gonna end up with a smile on their face the really important thing about funny phrases is if you have multiple children and you'll see this when we have the groups were going to do tomorrow if everybody is saying the same thing at the same time they're going to have the same expression at the same time does that make sense so if everybody says mommy's a monkey they will all end on the exact same smile and that is how we get family portrait and sibling groups because we can control their mouths otherwise if you just say smile every child has their own version of what a smile is so funny phrases are really critical to what we do and it works for mom and dad too I mean I make them repeat it so keep that in mind now give me five games like that engaging games of a child is starting tio kind of get tired and not want to participate anymore then you have to engage them in games give me five game you'll see me use it today multiple times and you'll see why that one works as well so at five obviously they're getting older they can take direction this is where it gets to be really fun and this is probably my favorite stage because it's pure innocence and from there on out you never know now with tweens with the teenagers this is a tough time this is somebody asked yesterday you know why don't we market to this age and it's not that we exclude them it's just that after twenty years of testing the market it just doesn't exist and I explained all the recent yesterday the kids are going through major body changes uh teenage boys in their hands or being their feet are big they're shooting up there nice and tall this is the time where teeth become an issue there's braces there either usually typically either have really bad teeth or they're right in the stages of braces and and you know brace removal is not fun and most parents don't want to invest in it there also in the later teens starting to get acne and they're very the very nervous and very uncomfortable with their bodies I know that you know little girls go through changes and little you know guys go through changes and it's just a very very awkward stage so it's not that I don't market to it in fact I do have clients who we have clients who every year have brought their child to me on this is for for the last six you know sixteen years several of them but you know what we found is all of those children are only children and it's interesting if I could figure out an on lee child campaign you know we know you love your child the most so but what I find his parents with only children a very doting on that child and they want to capture that but I think parents with multiple children you know they kind of grow out of that photography part because they get more into the sports in the football and everything but with one child we find that those children consistently every year we have a whole group of them that for years and years I've photographed every year of their life and it's kind of it's really need to really truly connect with people every year I mean you know we I have clients like that they're always talking about me photographing their weddings and you know I mean because I'm such a part of their life you know it's really exciting to know that they have that so this is as I said an awkward time every day part of that stage is awkward for these kids you also have to imagine that the amount of critical information that they're getting in the junior high school years is just magnified if you know you imagine a child going through the process of the first few years of school and those awkward experiences put them in junior high and all the sudden it's magnified tenfold there's just horrible things that happen to intersect children that literally shaped the rest of their lives and so I always think that they should actually just children between the ages of you know say twelve and fourteen they should just ship them somewhere and give them a nice comfy safe place to be and then bring them back when they're done with all these stages because you know all of us everybody in this room probably has a painful memory of junior high school I think that's like the worst time in your life because even if you're the coolest kid on campus you're still so unsure of yourself that you're questioning everything that happens to you and it's just a tough time so so I do enjoy seeing the kids at this stage but it is not it's not the norm from a marketing perspective where we do capitalize on this stage is in family portraiture when a family comes into update we're absolutely going to get the breakdowns were going to get children siblings together we're gonna get individuals of the siblings the two sisters the two brothers we do not ask permission I know this is not a family show but when we do that we don't ask permission we don't say is it you know would you like me to because if you ask a parent that's coming in for family portrait if they'd like breakdowns there's a fifty or more percent chance they're going to say no so we don't ever open the door to a no I will turn to a family and say all right we're gonna go ahead and get started I know that you're here for family portrait so we're going to see a beautiful portrait but keep in mind that in order to keep the flow going I'm going to do some breakdowns to I'm probably going to do couple of you two together that's mom and dad say I'll do one of the kids together some individuals keep in mind I know your priority is the family portrait however honestly to give the kids a break and to keep the flow going this is actually the fastest way to do this it's actually going to get you out of here faster and I turned to dad and say that because I'd say it's going to get you out of here faster which of course he doesn't want to usually be there in the first place so he's like okay great and once he sold on the concept I cant do flow opposing I can get in there and I could do the whole family and I say okay you to step out we've got you to note you to step back in and and I can go through it gives everybody a break it keeps it very the whole session very fluid and it gives me the opportunity to capture this these stages and once I d'oh when a parent gets in these are the ad on sales mom and dad you know and again I'm trying not to go to family here but if you photograph mom and dad alone and you retouch it before they come in we'll talk about how much retouching I do if you photograph the couple and then you retouch it and you throw it in the slide show they'll buy it every time because when they see it they go whoa we haven't done this in a long time we need to get that one if you ask them would you like a picture of the two of you usually they've been fighting before they got there and they don't want to look at each other I mean honestly how many family sessions start with like a really mad dad and mom looks like she's been crying I mean it's that's how it goes you can tell there's a lot of friction so if I turn to say would you like a couple picture there like no weed like a divorce but you know and you can feel it but if I just engage them in the concept I give them little tidbits of what's going to be best for them I tell dad he's gonna be out of fast out of there faster he's like shoot away so then they come in on a different day with a different mind state now they're happy with each other they're happy to be there they're looking at their picture together going only ash we look great ah they're looking at the picture of the kids going holy cow they've changed so much and now they're investing in those so I am not saying don't shoot it I'm saying absolutely I don't care if they have braces or acne or whatever it is it's still an important time to be capturing those memories now with teenagers they start once they passed that preteen they start to get a little more confident they're still finding themselves they're still trying to figure out who they are they're still going through a lot but some cases they start to cop a little bit of an attitude this is where teenage boys start to really be teenage boys they don't want to have that kind of like their dads they've been watching dad all these years saying I don't want to do this I don't want to be here and engaging them is a little bit harder lollipops and smarties air not gonna work on and even joking about it it's kind of irritating to them they just kind of think you're dumb honestly and you can you get that sense and I feel like that's okay if they think I'm dumb it's okay because usually my goal is to break that barrier and gain their respect and honestly most of the time I have to do it by sort of back door harassing mom and dad because I think when they realize that you know you're willing to stick your neck out and give mom a hard time or dad a hard time they feel a little more engaged with you at this stage they have all shapes and sizes girl argus girls are growing and guys are shooting up and there's um things that they go through I mean you know that awkward stage of little girls with their chest starts growing and they're uncomfortable and you know they're going to this awkward stage of what fits and what doesn't if it and you have to be it's hard to talk about these things but we have to have these conversations because if you don't realize that you know a lot of these body shapes are new to these children you know they're very uncomfortable with certain things and you kind of have to make them feel you have to give them away to feel comfortable or to defuse what it is that's bothering them so so the older teens for us it's mainly high school seniors this is that seventeen year old seventeen eighteen years old they're pretty confident I mean especially when they come in for a high school senior portrait they know why they're there they whether they chose it most of the girls as you know our awesome they just bring fifty outfits and eighty five pairs of shoes and they're ready to go guys differs I mean I get the guy that shows up in wrinkly shorts and a t shirt you know even after he's had a consultation that mom's sat through because he doesn't care and that's where I have to say you know what that happens and mom's not there I'm thinking okay do I call mom and ask her do I just roll with this where you know some come in with moms and she's got formal shirts and ties and I could just tell this kid hates that this is not this child so there's an entire dynamic of how to photograph a senior and how to make it work for them so we're always looking for you know you know our star seniors or those dynamic kids that come prepared that are you know are looking looking good and I mean this is an example of star kids they bring the cars there they want to get in the water they will you know they have an instrument they care about this but the majority there's a bigger percent that I don't want to be there especially if we were to separate boys and girls there's a huge percent the majority percent of boys do not want to do this and you kind of have to really even though they're confident you sort of have to draw them out of their shell and and my goal is always to end a senior session with that student smiling like they really loved that the session and I'll I'll push it on go longer I'll try harder I'll be sillier or and sometimes it's silly sometimes it's intelligence sometimes it's getting on their level it's finding out their interests and talking to them about it but I'm gonna always try to engage them so that when they're done they remember this is a great experience because you know it is an honor to be a high school graduate it is an honor to be at this point in your life and I really look at this as wings to me what these kids don't know and what's really amazing is this is the biggest change in your life to go between seventeen and eighteen when you graduate from high school do you realize that these students these children are at the beginning of their lives in the sense that they are perfectly I mean they have no debt no house no children no worries there completely free and they actually get to choose what they want to be when they grow up they have no idea have no responsibility and yet within a few years they will either by choice or accidentally land into the thing they will do for the rest of their lives this time frame is so short between that seventeen to twenty two for most of us that's on ly a few years and yet those air the greatest years of our lives and if you could give any message to any child it's just you know even my own children it's just more than anything I want to say you don't realize it's almost over her we have but you can't because they as faras they're concerned that they're just free and they're ready to go so it's a very very exciting time and I think it's something that we have to put effort into we have to really look at it as they're about to spread their wings and you know they've been under their parents care for all these years but this is it this is the last time they're really gonna be photographed as their parents baby and then pretty soon they're going to move on to something else so I love senior sessions I know I'm known for babies and children but I shoot it just as many high school seniors during the senior season because really I mean they're awesome even helen is you know she she could switch over to seniors she would because they're easier they're fun they're engaging andi really can get some amazing shots now there are a lot of do's and don'ts when it comes to working with this age and stage you can compliment specific features I always say the eyes because this is the way I look at it I mean there's just with the eyes you can never go wrong if you look at somebody soon we got you've got beautiful eyes it doesn't offend a boy it doesn't offend a girl it's a it's a polite compliment and it's engaging any time you even a teenager that's you know really a guy that comes in that does not want to be there I could look and say oh my god you know I'll start shooting I'll say oh my gosh beautiful eyes and also in there like you know they kind of get a little bit just a little more confidence and I can do you know and it's just that's a feature that you could focus on and you can't offend anyone and there's just you know there's there's that weird awkwardness I mean it works for guys and for girl photographer's because you know when you're working with a fee if a gentleman is working with a female young female like that there's just a lot of things you can't say I mean you know like oh you you look sexy you look how you know those are things that it's just it's kind of crossing a line you have be very careful even though you're trying to push them and get the right thing even me I won't look at a girl and say you look sexy or you look hot because it just does not feel comfortable to me so be very careful what you're complimenting make sure that you're targeting things that are not offensive do you treat them like an adult they don't really like to be baby they don't like you know when I I've tried it a few times I'm like okay if you're good I'll give you a lollipop just as a joke and they're like you're kind of a dork you know and it's just you have to be careful you don't really want kids to think you're annoying it doesn't matter how cool you think you are you're not cool period I mean that's it as soon as you cross into twenty five I think you're an old person in a seventeen year olds eyes so when I was a young shooter I thought I was cool you know what I thought kids thought I called but it was our thought that I was cool but even when I was in my early twenties I could just see a total disconnect that I was an old lady in there a pin didn't matter if I had hair cool hair cool clothes cool anything I was just like a dorky old person so I kind of get used that I thought you know what that I'm just gonna act like an older person and not have to try to be like them and that's the biggest thing is you're not like them they're a totally different generation and so it's it's okay you don't have to fit in you just have to enjoy what you do don't tease them about the opposite sex this is something that I learned many painful ways you know even with the younger kids you know a lot of I hear photographers do this things like oh you have a boyfriend and a girlfriend and I could tell you terrible stories of really the reason that I have this really was impact it is I was having this really hard time in a family session and there was a teenager like a preteen thirteen fourteen years old and this happens a lot I turned to him and I said something like oh you got it and it was a big family group and I said oh you got a girlfriend and then one of his siblings said oh yeah susie you know susie q or whatever it was he loves susie and he just shut down I mean he was horrified he went red he teared up and this is this thirteen year old starting to cry so his mom looks at him and gives it don't start crying face and it never recovered that whole session was one of those my ears were burning because I had ruined everything by that one simple comment and I've seen it with little ones I mean even as young as you know when you tease a six year old you're going to have a girlfriend you know just it just seems to never work for me although I've seen photographers do it really cess feli so maybe it's a personality thing but I just avoid that all together I never words you know I never use words that I think you're over the top I see other photographers do that and I'm not saying it's right or wrong I just maybe it's my comfort level it just doesn't feel right to me I look at it this way there's usually a mom in the room and you know I always think ok what does she think about this and I get out I have a lot of male photographers that ask me is it okay to you know they always say it's easier because you're a girl you can get away with it it's not necessarily true I mean we have lines that we have to be careful with either a cz well and you know for a guy photographer I do think there is you know especially working with high school seniors I think you do have to be professional and just be very careful what you say um multiples we are gonna have a set of twins I told you yesterday it's going to be I think they're thirteen month old twins so if that doesn't do it for you then I don't know what will because when working with twins keep in mind that you're dealing with the same stage they're technically at the same stage but they have different personalities so remember when I said that when a child is uh too you know three to four they're going to act a certain way they're going to be very shy or very outgoing you may have a set of twins therefore one is super shy and won a super outgoing so to find that combination of what's gonna work tio engage both of them can be a little more challenging but it absolutely can be done I just think it adds a very unique element I love I love the whole fantasy of being a twin I just think it so cool to imagine you know identical features an identical everything so what you have to allow yourself is a little more patience and a little more time with the little ones like the newborns on up through the first year you definitely have to have time and then of course as they get older you have to really watch their personalities because you'll see one will be clinging on mom the other one will be tearing up your studio and you start to kind of see ok this is how this is gonna have um this is how this is going to go out so you know triplets twins quads you know it doesn't matter just again the biggest thing is they are the same age that way technically they're on the same stage but they're definitely multiple personalities you know what's funny is people always talk about klaus and quince I have found that the more children they have the easier it is because especially with my quads and quince it's interesting that everything for them is very mechanical you'd imagine that lifestyle it diaper diaper diaper diaper diaper drink during you know bottle bottle bottle bottle and so everything dress dress dress dress everything is done mechanically and I find that parents who have multiples and on that level I have to treat everything I mean it's like watching a little row of ducks come in because they all line up they all stand in their place and they tend to be if the parents are engaged they tend to be easier to deal with and less outgoing believe it or not it's usually the twins and the triplets like that's sort of the crossover twins they're very busy and active triplets kind of there in the middle and then when we get in four and five and six children and then it seems to tape around a little bit so don't be afraid you know if somebody calls you and they have four children the same age don't necessarily think that's going to be the hardest session you ever do I would take you know three year old triplets or quads over an eighteen month old any day if you just gave me a choice I would I would probably take the three because I know that I can engage them with each other so so don't be afraid now when working with children with special needs uh there is a great range here and I debated going into all the different types of things that you could potentially deal with because there ah child with th is going toe act very differently than a child with down syndrome and there there are certain things that you should educate yourself and all that education is absolutely available online and you should be aware of certain situations because there are varying degrees of those situations as well the most important thing is to ask questions because I think that that's that fear factor of you don't want it to be awkward and you don't want to ask maybe some difficult questions but keep in mind that from a parent's perspective from the birth of that child they have had to deal with a very difficult thing they've had to answer questions they've had to sit in hospitals they've had to be in doctors they've done the research they know what this condition and they are the most educated person in the room to deal with this so keep that in mind mom knows you're not going to embarrass her over her own child she knows the situation and she would happily tell you what to expect so ask is many questions as you can because instead of making her uncomfortable you're she's good she's actually going to appreciate that you care enough to understand what her child's special needs are um what mom really wants a lot of times you know we're so used to getting those smiles that sometimes we walk into these situations and we feel like we have to get the smile on this child may not be even capable of smiling I have a client who has a condition that she cannot physically her bones have fused and she cannot smile and so mom knows that and it's it's it's one of those things where we create porch it's where the child is engaged he's reading a book she's looking up at the light she's doing different things because we know that's not gonna happen uh other situations you know we may be able to get smiles but like for instance with a child with down syndrome if you get them to smile it's such a big smile that their eyes closed and you're not getting who they are so many times we're going to be doing things that again are engaging looking at a book we're trying to do something that's not necessarily looking for that big cheese so it is a different perspective but those questions will if you asked them they're going to give you peace of mind and that's the biggest thing that consultations so important because if a parent reaches out to you and says my child has this situation that is them kind of throwing out you know the flag saying hey ask me questions now and when you do you're gonna find out a lot I have a little guy he has severe thd and our I'm sorry severe autism and each year when he comes in they only come to me because I am literally there two of them that I have one is now he's graduate from high school and one is about eight or nine years old but both of them are very different even though they have technically the same condition the older one has now graduated he just needs you to connect to him and then he's completely engaged with you where the younger of these two and they're separate families the younger one from the time he was little he always has one thing that he's in love with I remember one year it was sharks and one year it was penguins and honestly my job was so easy because I just had to go back to the cameron say penguin and it was a smile and then he would move off and get busy thinking about something else and I get him situated I'd say penguin and it was a smile I mean it was just the e and that's all I could say I could say mommy wears diapers and all those things would not have mattered it was one technique and one word that it happened but you have to ask that if if mom and he usually every time he'd come in he'd have fifty stuffed animals and he'd have them on his shirts and you know like when this little guy love penguins it was a true passionate penguin love and it was you know his shirt his backpack his toys everything he had was a penguin so mom you know I said bring tiny penguins bring things penguins I can hide because you know if a little guy in his case he couldn't focus on anything so if I could have mom sit there and take a tiny penguin and stick it in a book he would look at the pain which should say there's your penguin and he would look at the book so but if I didn't have that tiny penguin I would be having stuffed animals with this child because he will not leave them it's always alone so it sounds crazy but those questions you know mom knows and dad knows that child more than anybody and that's who you should be getting your information it is important to understand that the situation to do some research because you you become better educated globally but truthfully you can have the same situation on dh have multiple versions of that multiple things that will engage that child so the biggest thing is relaxing all children sense your anxiety period but children especially children a t h t eighty eight autism their hypersensitive to the things going on around them because remember communications very hard for them so they communicate via their feelings if they feel you're nervous you're stressed that they are going to go right down that path with you and it will make things ten times harder it's the same function anxiety to you can translate to fear to them there's something wrong here so I'm you know something's hurting me something's bothering me and it will come out and you'll you'll begin to see it so breathing is really important you just have to take a lot of breaths and take it really slow constantly check back with mom and my okay is he okay is everything okay because she will tell you and she'll usually be saying things that will help you go okay this is totally normal this is how it's supposed to be and and as faras time you can allow more time for this particular situation I don't everything I shoot is on the same hour I have an hour and fifteen minutes and typically shooting time is thirty forty five minutes on a session would be a long session for me but it doesn't take me any more time to do this but it has taken me years to figure this out and so my point isn't just book thes for thirty minutes and good luck it's you know if this is new to you give yourself more time because there were times I wished I had more times but now that I have that internal information these air these air no more difficult for me than anything I do honestly and that's how I want it to be for all of you so really it's just a matter of finding you know understanding the what you may see an understanding that there is no perfect smile and not on any child and that really parents aren't looking for perfect they're looking for that emotional connection who that child is yes ma'am going back to the hour and fifteen minutes now when you first started out it wasn't always that way or no I usually only do forty five minute sessions and I would do eight to thirteen a day and that was only seven years ago so the you know the the change in my schedule has really evolved from you know just for me it's not about I need more time it was a client experience so part of it is just giving them a little more time to get in a little more time to enjoy their company for me that extra fifteen to twenty minutes was really an editing process if they walk out of the room I can then download I could be edited before the next child gets in and that's something that we're trying to be meticulous about it's been harder for me lately but my goal is to get it downloaded and get a first edit done because you know what I find is if you've just shot it it's easier to edit it very quickly than when you go back and it's almost like because when you as you know when you photograph it's in sinking your head of exactly how it played out uh then when you go back later it's a little harder to do that quick at it so that's that's ultimately michael so I can shoot and you're going to see that today we were debating before we started should I show everybody out there how fast I can be like literally get in and get this done and have five kids through here in two and a half hours or should I pull back slow it down show you artistic ideas and I think we often for the artistic ideas but I'm gonna try to do a balance I'm gonna try to do it what I wanna try to do is get in and get the shots and say okay this would be in my opinion I got what I need now anything else we're gonna do is just for fun just to do creative stuff and we'll see how it goes but again one child today could throw that whole equation off so we'll see how that goes a couple more helpful tips so these are just some of the funny things that uh we'll talk about sort of why in just a second when telling a little white lie be prepared to risk your soul what do you see in there just a princess I can't see her hair okay you don't think it's a real tall again listen tough yeah I think so in your head that's what well maybe not that so there's no there's no prince in there on busted huh uh they're with me I'm not the prince case that a real tall what we're gonna do something she's got me on every angle look right look right here that look right appear so I want to show you something sit up tall hide these fingers and leaning together and watch I'm gonna show you bug there really is a lady bug up their hold on lean in well okay maybe not but I'm gonna see if I could find what maybe I could find one okay okay you know that's a tough one how do I use my techniques if I have a promise to god another important if you're going to tell a child to run be sure to tell him to stop thiss time put your put your stick down and put your other thing down you could just run can't wait wait go back go back go back go back couldn't get me any more light airy okay go back back back get ready to run I'm afraid he's super ready I'm dead hold on ready get set go oh my goodness you're being thrown away ah man there's like more pay for this give me five that was awesome yeah let's go back and last but not least always avoid talking politics with clients wait okay let's go first serious one way you know the boat's already over so everybody won you were voting for mccain nakedness well I hopefully he'll make it next time you were moaning for sarah palin way they did the best they could maybe next time all right leaning that's what I'm talking about is they're so funny they just say that buddy has think the first one with the little girl anything I said to her like I told you fantasy is the way to go you know look there's a ladybug every time she said you promised to god like how do you win that one no the total liar here so it was really a lot of fun so kids say and do the craziest thing and honestly I mean if you watch what I do every day is a game we just mess around all day long and engage in really fun exciting adventures now we're going to go through the tools because you're going to see these used today and actually I know we were gonna go to break this is actually a good time to shift if we can do that so let's go ahead and is that that's okay we take yet that's great where you want to do that's great thank you so do we have any questions in our studio audience no more comet going back to the special needs from my experience a lot of the parents will offer up information and what's kind of going on in the beginning and then you go from there into your research exactly and that's why that consultation is so important is when you know we do require that clients come into the studio sit down with us no matter what the situation and we can engage in the conversation because they want you to know and sometimes they're nervous because they've had bad experiences you know when you have a parent come in and say I've never gotten anything nobody can photograph this child I heard you're great you know you shouldn't fear that you should just know that it's that you're you're given an opportunity to below that parents mind and what I think the biggest disconnect is when people think oh I cannot get this child to smile don't get the smile I mean a lot of prints don't even want that so thanks that's a good comment that answers the photo mom had asked when you establish there's a special need if it's not physically obvious and is there a question asked in the initial consultation of a new client and we do have that as a constitution which does your child have any special needs but honestly when it comes to a really something that there would be no obvious anyway like down syndrome or something like that a parent's gonna offer it up right out of the gate they're going to say this is my child situation you know and that's where you should have questions prepared so that you could say okay well tell me a little bit about that because most conditions you know I've worked with but every once in a while I get something that I'm not even familiar with I mean it may be a medical condition like you know they have to have you know they're on dialysis or I'm sorry what is it they have to have insulin that they have a pack connected to them you know things like a child being in a wheelchair or something like that those are things that it's helpful the more information that they give because there are children who are in wheelchairs that they say they could be moved out and put in a chair there children who cannot be move down on the wheelchair so when they say my child in a wheelchair their follow up questions that it can't just be okay got it you know you have to kind of know where you can take that another one okay um question from vast garcia do you have different session fees for each of these stages or is it all the same fee and you base it on print sales all of my fees are the same I don't care I'm way have a few minutes so I'll give a little bit of theory there um I am a firm believer I could do the same thing in one hour and fifteen minutes whether it's fifteen people fifty people or single eighteen month old um so for me it's never about I'm gonna use this loosely nickel ing and I'm ing the clients I always if you guys are on spu and you know I could take every priceless stuff on there and you would know that my number one pet peeve when people have this price menu that has fifteen or even five types of sessions it's families of four it's this much money family any more than four it's this much money and you know I really start to think that it's like you're punishing people for having a couple extra kids and you know what parents going well I gotta pay fifty dollars more for my other two children and I just really feel like in that time frame it's their time they're paying for that time whatever I could do in that time is what they're paying for so I only have one session feet um and it's applies to everything except extended families which would be multiple families there is an additional fee there but whether it's family with pets family with multiple children siblings adults it doesn't matter it's just one feet because just like their question I know that on the michael isto on the tail end of that in the sales session actually capitalize on that sell if I do my job well then I'm gonna have a great self so my session fee is what I would consider a lower session fee minus one twenty five for my time uh but again that's that's really just for my time and then after that hopefully if I've done well and we've done those breakdowns and giving them options that cell is gonna be good

Class Description

Sandy Puc' returns to creativeLIVE for her Tots to Teens workshop! Sandy covers all aspects of creating a successful photography plan that spans from the young toddler years to the early teens. She shares her creative marketing ideas and practical business sense to attract and keep happy clients, and you'll learn how to create repeat customers—and stable income—by continually bringing clients back to update their child's portraits as they grow.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Tots to Teens - Day 1 Keynote Slides.pdf

Tots to Teens - Day 2 Keynote Slides.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Sandy Puc, I have attended a few of your events, in person and now on Creative Live. You never fail to deliver the gift of sharing your expertise and more. I am always amazed at how you have juggled a large family, your photography business with the university added, the teaching events that you do & the genuine donation of your love and time that you give with your foundation, NILMDTS among other things. You're an impressive & inspirational lady. Each time I see you, you refuel me, as this economy has been trying. Thank you. I bought the 3 day workshop, because it is a little hard to sit for 3 days straight without life and business distractions. I will watch again, and reference back as needed. I also bought your display kit for doctor offices/hospitals & malls. Thank you again for your amazing workshop and all that you so unselfishly give of yourself. Diana Brown Photography


This is by far the best photography class I have ever taken! Sandy does an amazing job at what she does!

Christine David

This is an absolute must have course for anyone who works with children. Watching Sandy work her magic is worth the cost alone. Fabulous workshop Sandy! Christine David Photography