It's inevitable that more than half of young children will be shy when the first come in to take photos with a lady they've never met in a place they've never been with strange equipment all around them (don't touch little Johnny!) They don't want to smile or sit still or keep their hands out of their mouths or fingers out of their noses. Yep, see, it's not just your kid!
Almost every time parent bring in young children for a photo shoot, the end result is a very frustrated parent and consequently a teary child who is "not being good". While I completely understand this frustration because I've been there myself, I have learned that this stress for the parent, the child and myself is totally unnecessary.
My all-time favorite photo of my son Ethan, is of him holding his baby leopard toy like a baby. I didn't tell him what to do. I just moved him to some good window light, asked him to show me how he takes care of his baby and voila!
Side note: this is possibly the cutest toy a boy or girl could have. I think it was a Diego or Dora toy maybe and it came with a bottle that prompts it to make feeding noises when inserted in its mouth and it purrs when you stroke its fur.
I'm still learning how to handle that tense situation when a child won't smile no matter how much his parents plead and promise sweet treats as a reward or threatens punishment if he refuses. However there are a few techniques I've learned to implement and will get easier with practice:
l) Spend time just hanging out before whipping out the camera and giving the child orders to behave. Children need to get their bearings, they can't fake being comfortable in strange situations like we can!
2) Take your time, no rushing! This does not work and usually has the opposite effect of making the shoot last longer and making everyone grumpy.
3) Don't try so hard to get posed photos of the little ones if they're not cooperating. Distraction with songs, games or even a favorite toy can make for great portraits of your child that will be treasured memories.