Photographing Teens

It’s not a surprise that teens are a the forefront of most selfies. They are getting an understanding of who they are as a somewhat adult but still child.

Self awareness is huge for teens and most already know what they like and don’t dislike and unlike my generation, are more forward in telling you exactly what that is unapologetically.

Teens are also one of the most self aware clients and therefore can sometimes feel a bit self conscious and uncomfortable in front of a stranger that mom and dad paid to photograph them.

So here are my tips for having a great experience with teens!


PRE CONSULTATIONS

I can not stress how important it is for you to have a conversation with your client before any type of session actually takes place. This can be via email, FaceTime, or better yet, in person!

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Ask them what the session is for, why they wanted to hire you, what they need after the session or if the session is with other teens or family.

Also, if you can, get some time with the teen alone, always with mom or dad near by, and talk to them about THEM. Ask them if they’ve had professional photos taken before, what do they want out of the session. If the teen goes mute, which can sometimes happen if they’re around say 14 years old, just keep asking the questions in a light hearted manner.

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Don’t dwell or force them to answer anything they’re unsure of. Teens are unsure of many things. If you can spark up a conversation about you like or perhaps ask them to create a vision board and text it to you.

Giving the teen some say about their own session gives them the authority to dictate what they like, what they don’t and be the creative directors of their own shoot.

Trust me, having their input will help you create images that they’ll love and ultimately get bought, shared, and even mom will enjoy that you got them onboard.

PLAYLISTS / MUSIC

Have music playing. If it’s in studio, on location, or anywhere, create a playlist and even offer the teen to add songs to it if they wish during the session.

You can also bring a small portable speaker and have them connect their phone to it so that their favorite music is playing.

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Music can create an experience unique to the teen and help them feel more comfortable in front of your lens and during the whole session as well.

Music also fills in awkward silent gaps because let’s face it, we’re focused on creating amazing images for them and sometimes, the convo can get a little stale. Music helps to fill in that blank and keep the momentum going even when you’re not talking about anything in particular.

WARDROBE AND STYLING

Teens have some really great style, however sometimes they can use a little help in that department, and we’re not talking about mom or dad.

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Have an add on your packages for styling services with a local hair and makeup person, or you can do a quick inspiration board before the session with all the looks that the teen likes from pinterest or social media.

Creating a cohesive look and getting the wardrobe and styling down before the session can also bring confidence levels up. When you feel and look good, it shows! And teens will like having this confidence boost.

DON’T FORCE IT

Okay, we’ve all been there. Photographing someone and most likely it’s mom who’s begging the children to smile, say cheese, have fun, or otherwise force the child/teen to do something they want.

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It’s best to give the parent a little pep talk, sans teen, and reassure them that the teen is gonna knock this out of the park and that having them just enjoy the experience is much more important.

Let them also know that it’s a rule that if the teen doesn’t smile, we’re not gonna force it. Because sometimes they don’t want to. Sometimes, you’ll get a huge authentic chuckle after the nerves have calmed down.

You might even get them to dance to the music they put on. Just give them some space and time and their personality will shine. There is no need to force it.

GIVE HOVERING PARENTS A JOB

And if the parent is hovering, give them a job to do! I’m a mom, I would totally hover and make sure the session I’m paying for goes how I want. Because I know my kid and I know their real smile versus their fake one, I know what gets them happy and I can always hear their laugh in my head.

But let’s get real, as photographers, that’s super annoying and keeps us from doing our job. And it’ll make the teen never want another session again because of mom or dad.

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My solution to this is to give the parent something to do, hold, or find. This gives them something to do rather than just watch the session. They are actively participating and busy hands don’t have time to hover over the busy photographer.

Even better if the parent is comfortable with going for a quick coffee run or lunch run. That gets them totally out of the room and lets the teen just relax.


What are your tips for sessions with teens? These tips are here to help you at your next session because we want our clients to have the BEST EXPERIENCE POSSIBLE which will let you create amazing photos for them, their parents, family, and everyone!

Until next Friday friends! Oh, and let me know what you’d like to see for future posts!


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