There have been times I’ve been sent on photo assignments by a newspaper to capture someone going about their job or daily life, but when I get there the first thing they say is the dreaded, “what do you want me/us to do.” Ugh!
Or I’ve been at a school, maybe photographing some kids working on an art project or science experiment and a well-meaning teacher or mom says, “Look at the camera and smile.”
Noooooooooo, I just spent 20 minutes working to get the kids get used to me being there so they would ignore me and do their thing!
As a photojournalist or newspaper photographer unless I am shooting a portrait the goal is to capture people doing what they do despite the camera being there. To tell a story, their story, or help show the story to the readers. Sure just having a camera pointed at people can often change their behavior, but it usually doesn’t take long for them to mostly forget about the camera and just do their thing.
I have never, or very few times, told my kids to smile at the camera when photographing them. Just shooting as they do what they are doing. Its something I recommend you give a try. Your photos will have more life to them, more emotion and hopefully more meaning while telling “your” story. Sure posed, looking at the camera photos have their place, but those can get old and boring. Plus you have the advantage of access and being with your kids all the time. They will ignore the camera fast and while I could get some real nice candid photos of your kids you are there for almost ALL the moments. Get a shot of those candid moments and you won’t be disappointed.