The question that I am asked over and over again, is “how do you photograph teenagers?”.
Photographers struggle and are often scared to photograph this age group, and parents just give up, because let’s face it, they can take their own “selfies” better.
This age group is without doubt, my most favourite age group to photograph. This might well be that I have teenagers of my own now (it helps), but there are a few things that I have realised with photographing teenagers, these are things that I have learned through photographing my own.
1. Treat them like Adults
This is important. Teenagers are in that beautiful transitionary period of their lives. Remember back to when you were a teenager…… you simply wanted to be treated with the respect that was afforded to adults. If you talk to them about ideas that appeal to their mature side and encourage them through respect, you will see their confidence exude.
2. Engage them in an Activity
Before photographing teenagers, find out a little bit more about them. The more relaxed they are in their environment, and with you, the better the energy. Do they play an instrument? What sports do they play? Photograph them playing their beloved guitar. Take them down to the basketball court. These will be images that both you and they will cherish.
3. Given them permission to be silly.
Teeangers are becoming adults, but they still have the playful childish behaviours within them. When I photograph teenagers, I will purposefully take them to an location where I know that there is something that could distract them. A tyre swing, a hammock – who can resist these. Before you know it, they will forget about their self consciousness, as they swing high into the sky. If all else fails, give them games that will give them permission to be kids again. Piggy back rides are a favourite of mine.
4. Clothing struggles
I don’t know about you, but I lost the ability to tell my kiddos what to wear when they were about 8. Let them wear what they want. Let them wear what best represents them. When they are wearing their favourite clothes, they are comfortable. This is a battle not worth fighting.
5. Be Creative and Show them what you are shooting.
Capturing them doing what they love helps them open up. But start getting creative. Try different angles. They don’t always need to be looking at you. Show them the shots on the back of your camera, and you will find them out there wanting more.
Kids these days are used to being photographed more so than any other generation. Posting selfies to instagram, snapchat, facebook etc, is a way of life. Use this to your advantage.