Guest Blog: Photographer and Awesome Mom Gilmar Smith

If you follow my work, you know I am passionate about bringing my kids’ imagination to life, and since most of us are getting to spend more time with our kids at home, I want to share some of my favorite tricks with you so you can create the most amazing memories with your family too!

My approach when it comes to working with kids is a little different from other photographers I know. When I work with kids, I step down and let the kids take the Creative Director role (with a little guidance of course). So how do I do that? EASY! The magic of storytelling!

It all starts with, “Once upon a time,” a pencil, and paper.

I’m sure by now, you have heard about the elements of storytelling—the setting, characters, plot, theme, symbolism, and emotion.

I use all of these as prompts when I do storytelling sessions with kids. You can ask questions such as: where does this story take place? Was it day or night? What were you doing? Who else is in the story? Etc.

Then make a little sketch about the story. The sketch will serve as a visual prompt when it is time to posing, and it will also serve as a reference if you are making a composite image.

So, Gilmar, why don’t you just take a picture and that’s it? Why complicating things?

Because I want these pictures to be a representation of these kids’ imagination and their sense of wonder, I want to validate their ideas and feel empowered by them. Lastly, I want to cultivate and nurture their creativity. All of that translates to the final images.

Once you have a story and a rough sketch, it is time for the photoshoot! Believe it or not, photoshoots are super fast if you used the techniques I mentioned above. There is no awkwardness because your little subject will know exactly what to do, and if he or she is a bit confused, you can show them the sketch. It always works like a charm!

Another great way to keep kids engaged in a photo shoot is by giving them props. I found this trick works great with adults too! In the images below, my daughter picked lots of sailing props and played around with them as I was taking her pictures.

Let them get into character. My daughter has been worried about getting older, to the point she said she didn’t want to grow up (she is only 5!) so to face her fears I dressed her up as an old lady, and let me tell you, she was the most adorable old lady I’ve ever seen!

You don’t need to have any props or to be Photoshop compositing wizard. Find a cardboard box, give it to a kid, and see all the creative uses and stories a kid will make out of that box. You can turn each one of them into photos you will treasure forever!

You can see more of Gilmar’s work at, and keep up with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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