I am very organic in my approach to shooting. The client and I will have our pre-shoot meeting and discuss expectations we both have for the session, and what needs to be done to accomplish our goals. I make sure that we also take some time before talking business to get acquainted, especially if the pre-shoot is our first face to face meeting. Pretty straight forward stuff there, but it is the little things that can make a huge difference on the day of the shoot.
On the day of the shoot I do my best to keep the atmosphere as lite and relaxed as possible. When I am photographing children I will always let them check out my camera before I start shooting, and let them touch some of the buttons. Usually once they see a picture of themselves on the back of the camera they get excited and want to take more photos.
Normally when I photograph children I use a small soft box and Nikon's CLS so I can let the shadows take over the background. I hand hold the soft box in my left hand and the camera in my right armed with a 50mm prime lens wide open. With the soft box close in, the aperture at f/1.8, and the shutter speed around 1/8000, you can let the background be swallowed by shadows and have a very shallow depth of field on top of that. I will use this approach often when I need to work around a cluttered background.
Using high speed sync to push the shadows off the face is one of my favorite lighting techniques. My two go to modifiers to help shape my shadows are the Westcott 60” convertible umbrella and the 28” Apollo soft box. Both of which are very versatile light modifiers with High speed sync.