Q: I want photos of my 3-year-old, but he’s a tad feisty. I need a pro who can get him to sit still, maybe even smile.
A: There’s more to a being a children’s photographer than owning a Canon and some lights: You really have to love what you do. Calming a hyper toddler or coaxing a smile from a teary newborn requires Sisyphean patience (and, when that runs out, a stockpile of Cheerios). The following photographers come well recommended.
Putting stuffed animals on her head and tickling toddlers is all in a day’s work for Nancy Ribeck (at A Child’s Portrait; 212-534-3433). “In ten years, I’ve put on a lot of puppet shows,” she admits. Her shots consistently capture children’s personalities (she’ll pose budding musicians with their instruments, for example) and still feel spontaneous and unstaged.
The traditional style of Kate Burton’s hand-painted black-and-white photos (212-717-9958) belie her unconventional methods. “Kids hate to sit. I let them run around outside, then follow with my camera.” How does she make them laugh? “I used to ask the kids to sneeze – they thought it was really funny. But their ahhh-chooos got so loud, my neighbor complained.”
For years, Sarah Merians’s wedding portraits (212-633-0502) earned her company raves from the Town & Country set. Soon her former bridal clients were clamoring for Merians to photograph their newborns. Now she sounds like an old hand: “Jumping around, standing on my head – I’ll do whatever it takes.”