Portraits with children-the benefits of handing your camera to a six year old

The setting: Santa Fe portrait session with a super sweet, adorable and fun loving boy. The Photographer: Norah Levine, Children and Pet Portrait photographer located in Austin Texas and also photographing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Norah's mission: Create unique portraits of super sweet, adorable and fun loving boy for his family to enjoy for a lifetime and for everyone to have fun while doing so.

Question: If a six and a half year old boy asked you to hand him your very expensive camera to take photos of you during a photo session would you say yes? If you answered yes, would you consider taking your camera settings off of the continuous shooting function? Yes, I think you would. This is a technique I don't use often because of obvious reasons, but whenever I've used it I've had positive results...not to mention the fantastic photographs of me realizing my camera is on continuous fire mode which means that as long as his little finger is on that shutter the images keep coming.

There's a collaboration between photographer and subject that has to exist, in my opinion, in order to create meaningful portraits and positive memories of time spent together. No matter where I'm photographing–Santa Fe, Austin, or somewhere else–the collaboration between a child and the photographer is especially crucial. This collaboration can sometimes involve negotiations. I'm not talking bribing (for the most part), just an "if I pull you and your red wagon up this hill we're definitely taking more photos when we get to the top" sort of thing. And yes, handing a six and a half year old boy who seems rather responsible my expensive camera in order to get a few more images is far worth it for me.

The film strip below is a small sample of portraits created as a negotiation with this little boy. The effects of this negotiation were quite positive. I followed through on letting him take portraits of me which was fun for him. This activity gave him a break from being the subject and a chance to interact with me on a different level.

For variety (and just for fun) we went through a couple of wardrobe changes during our session. This included a shirtless portion... he wanted to look like Rambo. Six and half year olds seem to have their own ideas and I was certainly open to collaborating on wardrobe. I try to stay away from logos though so I'll admit that a few suggestions he made were considered but overruled... It was an exciting and playful portrait session and I think that's pretty obvious in the images. He was a total character and we became fast friends. There is something about each portrait session that supports my reasons for being a photographer. For this session it was the enjoyment of playing and the gentle "negotiations" that allowed me to capture as many images for the parents as possible. I highly valued spending time with an amazing family who quite obviously adore their son.

I think the "mission" was accomplished.

Norah Levine is an Austin children portrait photographer and pet photographer. She photographs in homes and on location. She also travels to Santa Fe, New Mexico frequently for sessions. Please view her website for more details www.norahlevinephotography.com