Charleston, South Carolina, photographer Charlotte Zacharkiw is the sort of person that children, babies, family pets, parents and grandparents instantly feel at ease around. That has a lot to do with her laid-back personality but also the fact that she’s a mother of three. She knows the reality (i.e. chaos) that is often unfolding behind the ‘perfect’ photo. Charlotte is also well aware that the stress is just part of the process and embraces that conflict is a given. Thankfully though, she’s also developed a few key strategies over the years to smooth out the rough edges a bit and get the memorable photos everyone’s after. Here are a few of her favorite bits of wisdom:
NUTURE EMPATHY FOR YOUR LITTLEST ONES.
“I always suggest the photoshoot take place at the best time for the youngest child! Maybe this is after a nap or in the evening after a meal. It can be very difficult photographing an exhausted or hungry child, understandably.”
FORGET THE SNACKS AND BRING ON THE BREAKS.
“Snacks and music or props can be a distraction. I would not recommend bringing anything to the shoot except yourselves. One time a parent spent nearly 20 minutes trying to take a lollipop away from a child which cut into the photo session time and was distressing for everyone. There are always plenty of things to do during a photo shoot. To make it fun for the children, and to gain trust, I will sometimes take them on a scavenger hunt, give them breaks to collect shells or play with a stick. Making them feel like the photos are a fun activity and less of a chore can really bring out positivity and joy in my sessions.”
EMBRACE THE CHAOS.
“Some shoots don't go as planned and sometimes there are tears and tantrums. Even sad expressions and cuddly moments of reassurance can be sweet to capture. I don't put my camera away for those raw and real moments and sometimes those images end up being the most precious of the bunch. I think my best advice would be just to relax and enjoy the time with your family. Don't worry if your kids are saying cheese and looking at the camera, just enjoy being together and that energy will come through in the imagery!’