It's a phrase we, as the de facto family photographer, say to children until we are blue in the face. Sometimes it even works. The problem is we aren't that interesting to the child. Afterall, they see us all the time. Usually, if they look at us at all it's for a split second, usually when their parents aren't, and then it's gone in a flash (literally).
I'm constantly asked to do portaits of the rugrats in our family and, though I enjoy the results, I cringe at the thought of uncooperative tikes.
I came across a product, the maker of which I can't remember, that suspended a smartphone beside the lens of a camera. The smartphone would be put on autopilot, displaying a light show in attempt to attract the attention of wandering eyes. "Brilliant," I thought, "This will solve everything!" (A phrase uttered by me, upon seeing some new gadget or piece of gear, at least twice a week.)
I knew I had laying around enough hardware (as the result of many other such epiphanies, as stated earlier) that I could cobble together something similar.
This is what I came up with:
I took a Wimberley F-2 Macro Flash Bracket, attached it to the Really Right Stuff L-plate on my camera, and screwed an eBay tablet mount (similar to this one) at the end. In the clamp I put my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7" tablet and set it to run the Party Light app, which is also available as an ad-supported free download.
Considering the build and weight of the Wimberley bracket I would trust that arm with a full-sized 10" tablet as well. You can also use a smartphone, but obviously the screen will be quite small when viewed from several feet away.
The weight of the entire rig isn't anything to sneeze at. My arms got tired after a 15 minute session.
Now I need to figure out a way to get them to smile...