My Super Secret Weapon: Simon Says

Every photographer needs tricks up his/her sleeve to get kids of all ages to cooperate for the camera.

If you are a mom trying to photograph your three year old, you may thank your lucky stars that your child has finally reached an age where he/she is old enough to follow directions, but will he/she actually listen??

I know Jasper seems terminally incapable of NOT MOVING when I have my camera trained on him.. it’s almost as if the second I get out my camera someone gives him a shot of espresso – it’s maddening!

The other thing you may have noticed with the three-year-old set and older is that this tends to be the age of onset for the dreaded cheesy smile…

So, how do I get the 3+ age group to cooperate and pose and do EXACTLY what I want them to?

Simon Says.

Simon says stand STILL:

Tell me about your day mommy..

Simon says put your fingers in your ears:

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Simon says “Look at the camera!”


Simon says touch your hat:

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Simon says show me your shield:


And then when you tell them something and don’t say simon says they pretty much always do it, and then when you say “I didn’t say Simon says!” they usually laugh and look completely natural:


The reason why this works should not be surprising, who wouldn’t rather play a game than to be told what to do?

Simon Says “Try it!”

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Noa says:

Ariana, you rock! Love it :)

kari says:

You, my friend are brilliant!

Sara says:

This is great advice, so simple yet effective! I’m gonna try this out on my toddler. Thanks!

Carolyn says:

Awesome advice!! I’ll have to start playing that game with my 2 year old. I don’t think she knows how to play it yet, but I know she’ll love it :) Thanks!

Rachael says:

Great article and beautiful images!

Emily says:

Just what I needed to hear today! I just took my three year old out on a shoot (I never photograph my kids, it’s too difficult!) and we shot for 5 minutes and that was that. I did get 7 images out of it that I was happy with, but seriously, photographing kids is so much harder than photographing a wedding! :)

katelyn says:

THANKs so much for this excellent advice… Will be trying it out this weekend!!!

rae clevett says:

Great tip. I’ll have to remember that one.