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I'm a photographer and educator based in Scottsdale, Arizona! Giving joyful people laughter filled and stress free photos and helping photographers turn their dream to grow their business into a plan that actually works!
No matter how great you are with children, it’s hard to keep a smile on their face once you hold up a big camera in front of yours. If you’re like me and you don’t have an assistant that comes along with you on sessions, you have to figure out how to take beautiful photos and keep children content all at the same time. That’s why I use PEZ dispensers at family sessions! As much as I wish I could, I can’t take credit for this idea. I stumbled upon a blog post years ago that taught me about this. I’ve tried to find the article I originally found and can’t. However, I did trace the idea back to what seems to be the original creator.
Let’s walk through using PEZ Dispensers as your assistant during family sessions. Incase you’re wondering how I do this, it’s incredibly simple. I put them on the top of camera and tell the children to look at them. That’s it. Before you try this, you should know, they don’t fit in the hot shoe on their own. Also, the hot shoe is the name of the mount on top of your camera that most commonly holds a flash. Since I don’t use flash, I actually just learned this term. So, I wanted to share a description incase others might not know what it is either. ;)
In order to make them fit, I sand down the sides of them. The original creator of this idea uses a box cutter or razor blade to cut off the widest part of the bottom of the dispenser. I’ve found that using a piece of sandpaper on the sides of them works great! And it’s safer!
This photo below shows the PEZ dispensers sanded down on the sides! They’re not even, but it doesn’t matter if they look good, it just matters if they fit!
I don’t use these for the whole session. I usually wait to take them out until one of the children is having a hard time looking at me. They get to experience my animal noises and loud shouting trying to get their attention first. Once the novelty of those sounds wears off, I bring out the PEZ. And eventually, their fascination with the PEZ will wear off too. Because, well, they’re children. So use them wisely and be ready to capture as many smiles as you can!
I typically bring 3 of them to every session. They’re small and easily fit in my camera bag, so the more the better! That way I can start with a character that the children love the most. And then I can also trade them out with other characters to keep them interested for a little longer! I take it out of my bag while hiding the top of the PEZ dispenser from the children. As soon as I’m ready to take the photo, I take my hand off the PEZ character’s head and say “Smile at Olaf!” And the kids usually love to smile for him! ;)
That sums up how I use PEZ Dispensers at family sessions! I haven’t brought them to a session with PEZ candies inside of them yet! I plan to try that someday though. If you happen to get to that before me, I would just make sure to check with the parents ahead of time that it’s okay to offer small candies to their children. If they say yes, then go for it! And let me know how it works! ;)