I'm a planner, so I can always see every pose and position I want my subjects in before I even load up my camera bag to do a shoot. Most of the time, too, I use a cue sheet of poses as starting points, and I keep it in my back pocket to make sure I don't forget something. If you read this cue sheet, it would be indecipherable and written in a doctor's script. Just quick phrases like, "standing, holding, arm bend," etc.
I have to be this way because it turns out that, once on location, I am incredibly distractable and in-the-moment flaky. It's pretty dorky, really. I get so excited about every session I shoot, and I tend to jump easily from set-up to set-up. I swear, one of these days I'm going to rush over to a different area of some park or something and run square into a water fountain.
But, at the end of a shoot--or sometimes right smack in the middle--I take a break from my planned poses and just sit with my subjects for a bit (or play with them in the case of kids), and then I just watch. In the case of a 6-month-old baby, that might mean I end up with a few frames of hand-gnawing or drooling, but I'm okay with that. Things arise. Images and compositions and feelings come to the surface that would not have been there had I been posing and positioning. Those shots, most of the time, are my favorites.
And so today, here I've posted two parts of my shoot from last week with a great family--the first diptych is what I had envisioned in my head before the camera was on, and the second image came to pass simply because kids, it turns out, have a pretty good time running down hills. They did this on their own accord when we were moving to a particular spot in the park, and then I made them do it one or two more times.
I hope I never stop this structure of planning and winging it, and I hope, too, that kids never stop just being themselves.