Family photography sessions can be a tricky business. It’s a challenge to immediately make a connection to your subjects, make everyone feel comfortable, and then facilitate genuine interactions (that are truly happy!) in a one hour or so time span. After seven years in a classroom educating children and ten years as a professional photographer, I have found that EVERYONE loves games and they are an easy way to loosen my families up. I use games and prompts to help choreograph my sessions so that I have joyful and genuine candid images that are meaningful to clients and satisfy my artistic vision. Below are three favorite games and prompts I love to use during family sessions.
Pass the Tickle (for families with children ages 2-10) – What is different about this game is the concept of passing the tickle, so that children have the opportunity to tickle their parents and siblings. Instead of just telling the parents to randomly tickle their children (which often results in turtlenecks and children hiding), I instruct the family to start at one end with the tickle and then tickle right down the row. This way I can predict the family’s reactions a bit more and plan my composition accordingly.
Look at the Person Who (for families ages 5 and on up) – I especially love this game when photographing all adults. It’s a fun way to get to know your clients and help everyone loosen up and look at each other with BIG smiles. I simply say, “On the count of three, I want you to look at the person who……” My prompts are things like best/worst cook in the family, takes the longest in the bathroom, is the most ornery, etc.
The Word Association Game (kids ages 10 – 21) – I like to play this game with my high school seniors. I give them a word, and they tell me the first thing that comes to their mind. I often say mundane words like socks, math, broccoli, etc. and then will throw in boyfriend/girlfriend or another phrase that I predict will make them smile. Their answers are usually pretty funny and it’s a silly method for us to connect and get comfortable with each other quickly.