27 Jul
Mama Paparazzi

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My 6-year-old daughter refuses to take a picture. She throws a complete fit every time I try to take a snapshot. It’s ridiculous. The last photo I have of her she was starting preschool, but   I want to document my daughter’s life. Any ideas?


Camera Shy


Dear Camera Shy,

Okay, I know everyone probably expects me to say something snarky here, like “Why don’t you do what the modeling agencies do and just ply your daughter with champagne and a few ‘vitamin shots’ to get her moving? Or maybe stop feeding her for a few weeks until she’s ready to hold a pose. That’s what Gucci did with Kate Moss in ’88—genius!”

But you know what? I’m actually not going to say anything like that because I’m trying to be more mature these days. And just to prove my maturity, allow me to share with you what I put on every time I have MY picture taken:

Vacuum & Kate Plus WTF?

But supposing you actually don’t want pictures of your 6-year-old in a $9.98 Gosselin Halloween wig that makes her look like a premenstrual porcupine, here are some wonderful tactics that professional NYC photographer Jennifer Lee suggests:

“Capture the candid moments of everyday life… playing with her toys, reading a favorite book, wearing dress up clothes. If you can, use a zoom lens, back up and allow them to continue playing. DO NOT call her attention or ask her to smile. Just allow her to be herself.

Keep your camera in an easily accessible place and ready to shoot. Children are rarely sedentary and their moods can change instantly. If you make your camera an extension of your hand, you will integrate it into your lifestyle and your daughter will learn to be comfortable going on with her activities while you shoot away.

Make a point to photograph all situations, not just special occasions, but haircuts, walks down the sidewalk, playtime, homework, etc. Weave photography into your life. You will get more natural photos and a wonderful record of your family. You will start telling stories with your photos.

If you are determined to capture a photo of your child smiling at the camera, make a game of it! Peek-a-Boo usually works like a charm.  Acting silly – or better yet – having another adult act silly right next to you will inevitable inspire giggles. Another great thing is reverse psychology. Many times I will tell kids “DON’T look at the camera – don’t you do it!” Of course, they will immediately look, then I’ll say “Hey! I told you NOT to look!!” This usually yields huge smiles and laughter.

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your child. Just keep on trying and keep shooting. If you take lots of photos and experiment with different games and ideas with your child, you are bound to get some phenomenal ones. The ones that you think are going to be perfect usually are not and the moments in between often capture the true personalities.”

So, Camera Shy, just follow one or more of these great tips and you’ll soon be on your way to filling up those family scrapbooks! Whoo!

Finally, remember that it’s not always bad to have a daughter who doesn’t love the spotlight because that means you probably won’t end up spray tanning her on a future episode of Toddlers & Tiaras. And that’s something everyone can smile about, isn’t it?


Wendi, TMH

7 Responses to “Mama Paparazzi”


Comment by Bean.

All excellent ideas. I would add get a decent camera, and set the camera function to “action shot”. It lets you take several pictures in a row, very quickly, and you’re much more likely to get those fleeting grins.

We also got our 5 year old a kid’s digital camera. She looooves it, and now she’s more cooperative, because she wants people to cooperate with her.


Comment by dusty earth mother.

Up until six months ago, my 6 year old daughter would not take a picture either (no school pics or anything–she just refused and would scream bloody murder if we tried to force her). And then one day–it changed. I have not the slightest idea why other than some sort of planet alignment. I say this to encourage you, this may just be yet another one of those pesky phases they go through and maybe you just need to ride it out (and take mental pictures of her. For posterity, you know).


Comment by Rojopaul.

Great photo, Wendi. You crack me up. And I love the comment NOT to look at the camera. That’s guaranteed success!


Comment by Helena.

That is some awesome advice!


Comment by Plano Mom.

Awesome advice. Just remember it really has nothing to do with the pics or her aversion to the pics and has EVERYTHING to do with control and her right to decide what to do with her body. Make her think she is in control and she’ll be a willing participant – most of the time.


Comment by Liz @ Peace, Love & Guacamole.

That’s really a wig?? Could have fooled me!


Comment by Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him.

Tell her Santa only visits children who have taken many, many Glamour Shots.
Tough love.

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