No, not a fist-bump or a high five… An actual prop. Especially when shooting children… Ummm, that sounds bad… Photographing children? Yeah, lets go with that. Especially when photographing children, a prop can go a long way in telling that child’s story or simply providing them with a distraction. It could be as simple as their favorite stuffed toy or blanket, or you can take it to the next level and set a whole theme up. If mom or dad likes to cook, try creating a setting in the kitchen with some (appropriate) props. A bowl, a dusting of flour, a wooden spoon, a tiny little chef’s hat; or if they are farmers, some overalls, John Deere tractor or paraphernalia and freshly dug vegetables. You’re only limited by your imagination (and budget, if you are providing some props).
Speaking of budget… As we all know, nothing in photography is cheap, but spending a little money on some props can go a long way in separating your work (and yourself), from the ever increasing photographic herd. Get to know your subject(s) before the shoot and tailor it to them. You’ll get better pictures because you paid attention to the details, and from a client relationship standpoint, you’ll form a bond that will likely lead to return clients.
The whole prop idea isn’t just limited to younger kids, though. Once they hit their teens, there is a lot of opportunity for sport/academic/art related themes. Above all else, pick something that interests them. Get their input. Brainstorm ideas with them. The more you involve them, the more comfortable they will be when the time comes to shoot.