The Fun and Frustrations of Photographing Children

I have been on a lot of photo shoots in my long advertising career.

One of the most memorable was for a diaper company...little background for you. When you photograph a baby for commercial purposes there are lots of laws and restrictions, especially in California. Babies are allowed on set for a limited amount of time (In the state of California it is 20 minutes a day). Babies are notoriously unpredictable so when casting for a baby photoshoot you need 2 back-up babies in case the “star baby” decides to get fussy or take a nap.

A social worker or teacher need to be on set, and when the baby is under six months old, a social worker is required for every three babies. With every baby there is at least one adoring stage parent. On this particular diaper shoot we had to photograph 4 babies which means:

  • 12 babies (including backups)
  • 15 parents
  • 4 social workers
  • 4 clients
  • 1 diaper stylist
  • 2 baby wranglers
  • 1 wardrobe stylist + her assistant
  • 1 photographer + 4 assistants
  • 1 digi tech
  • 1 producer
  • and me (I was in charge of the fart machine)

I wish I could say the shoot went off without a hitch but, it did not. We had crying babies, pooping babies, sleeping babies and fussy parents. It was exhausting! It felt like we had been at the circus! But the client walked away happy and the talent well paid.

On my roster of talent, I have several people who photograph children. Elke Van de Velde is notorious for her photographs of kids. It is not often she has to work with new born babies, though she has done it. She primarily works with kids and toddlers photographing for fashion and catalog companies. Elke likes the spontaneity that kids bring to the set and gleans energy from her subject matter. Sarah Flotard recently wrapped a shoot that included families and kids. One day she came to the set and a little girl began screaming and throwing things. Sarah eventually talked her down and the day was successful, but it was filled with antics. I think what makes both Sarah and Elke successful is that they are mothers themselves and no strangers to the mercurial nature of children. Hats off to people who can do it well! Kids and animals, they make great images but it’s not always easy!

Explore Elke Van Velde's portofolio.

Explore Sarah Flotard's portfolio.

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