If you haven’t guessed from the title this post discusses bribery. It’s not about corrupt officials taking payments but about a girl who refuses to pose and be photographed. Luckily, we didn’t have to give her large amounts of money. From this transaction a lesson was to learned. Photographers sometimes forget that creating images of a subject is a collaborative effort. The subject’s wants and desires need to be taken into consideration. They need to be understood and balanced with the photographer’s direction for the images.
When working with children a reward system is useful. Its not the best of habits for a child to develop but used sparingly, it can be effective. If you’ve ever photographed children you have come across a child that does not want to smile or cooperate. It’s not going to ruin the images. Imagine a boss that is hard to please. You work your butt off to do everything they ask of you. You get frustrated tell yourself you’re going to quit. You don’t end up quitting because one day, out of the blue, he/she gives you a huge compliment in front of their supervisor.
Now, imagine the child that doesn’t want to be photographed is your boss. You have to work hard and be patient but the moment you’re given the compliment, or in this case a smile, you have to be ready with the camera. Simply by being attentive to the child’s wants/needs and taking them into consideration will help make the whole shoot go more smoothly.
Back to bribery. Children are easy to bribe. If a child wants something bad enough, they’ll do almost anything at least once. For example I was photographing a family outside and the youngest did not want to smile. We were within walking distance of a playground and she saw it when we first got there. After a few attempts without a smile she was asked what she wanted to do. Her response was to play on the playground. We agreed to give her five minutes to play now, then when we were done “taking pictures” she could play more. She was all smiles after that.
So be it adult or child, as photographers we have a responsibility to listen to the person we are photographing. Models will enjoy working with you, families will refer you to others, etc. The benefits are numerous. Bribe an adult with kind words and a child with a treat and lastly always listen.