Last week I was on a job. Family of 10 with a young daughter.... I know you're thinking yeah? So? here is the twist, most of them understood English the Little girl however only spoke Russian. And though I speak 5 languages and can communicate in 2 additional... Russian is not one of them.
As if things were not complicated enough the little princess was also really shy.
Not so long ago had a falling out with someone I used to consider Family pretty much on the topic of me doing photography... and that I had to "grow up"
I guess that is the Tradeoff. In a situation where your adult mind tells you communication is virtually impossible (again language and shyness factor) The child's mind says "meh! Details!"
When my 3 year old goes to the park, allot of tourists from all over the world in our area. He ends up playing with kids who speak all kinds of languages. Even though they don't understand the words the other is saying they manage to communicate just fine "do you want to play on the slide with me?" translates just fine into any language when you point at the slide with a big smile one your face.
Granted when you are 30 years old and at a client's Villa it takes allot more confidence in yourself to... Boldly behave like a 3 year old to get the job done.
Ok great man! What does that even look like?
From the minute I started setting up and was introduced to the girl I made the whole thing a game. I grabbed on of my speedlights and started blasting myself with it. the beeping was on too so that added some fun sounds to it we would wait for the light to go off and hide AFTER the light went off. I also encouraged her to push the button so she would be familiar with it.
High fives tend to be international too... when you have earned the right to high five a 3 year old you are pretty much in.
When actually shooting I got down on the ground. Eye level with the kid... Far less intimidating than the 6'2" man in Black! As I am getting down on the ground I will usually do it with sound effects. It makes them laugh their mind is off the camera but as soon as I am where I want to be I can shoot and get that spontaneous authentic emotion.
Is there a winning recipe... Not that I have found yet (believe I would have turned that into a top selling Book by now. what works 99% of the time for me is to stop complicating things... and Usually... I'll end up with better pics of the shy 3 year old then the Adults who did understand me and were posing.