"Soooo... my two year-old can be pretty difficult, and runs away every time she sees a camera."
"I don't know what time we should schedule - his nap time is all over the place right now."
"If my kids aren't cooperating, can we/do we have to reschedule?"
These are things I hear pretty regularly from parents of toddlers, and having had a couple of them at one point myself, I totally get it: if a tiny threenager can derail something as simple as a trip to Target, who's to say they're not going to ruin the photoshoot you've planned and saved for specifically in order to capture their angelic faces? It's a nervewracking and totally unpredictable element in what can already be a relatively stressful situation.
The thing is, in the history of my career as a family photographer, I can only think of one instance where we had to postpone the shoot for behavioral reasons... and I've witnessed some pretty epic misbehavior. It's not just toddlers, either... sulky teenagers and fighting school-aged siblings and even the occasional grumbling partner can make a session feel like it's sure to result in failure... but it almost never does. The thing is, I only need a split-second (or, more precisely, 40-50 of them) to get the photos you want, and if you're good at catching them, you'll see that those split seconds happen all the time, even in the midst of tears and tantrums. And the truth is that tantrummy photos have their place in the annals of little kid photography anyway... we may not feel like we ever want to remember them when we're dealing with them, but they're pretty funny down the road.
Kelly sent me today's lovely post about our studio session with her daughter, and even though it was only a few months ago, I had totally forgotten that Hannah was giving us a hard time during the shoot... to be honest, I'm so used to craziness from little ones that I'm more likely to remember a super-cooperative kid's behavior. I know that when you've spent the time and money on a session, you want to walk out feeling like we nailed it, but I have a secret guilty pleasure to share: some of my favorite phone calls and emails after I've sent a gallery off are the "how in the WORLD did you get these photos when my kid was being such a nightmare?!?!?" It always makes my day to make someone else's...
Anyway, without further ado, our session from Kelly's perspective:
“I don’t want THAT!!!” She stood between the studio lights, in her diaper, staring defiantly at the photographer and me. My nearly two-year-old daughter, Hannah, waved her arm in the direction of both of the dresses I’d meticulously selected for her photo shoot. I nervously laughed, trying not to panic.
We selected Megapixie Photography and Annemie as our photographer for her one year photo shoot serendipitously. It was right after the 2017 election, and Annemie offered portrait sessions as a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. An advocate for women’s rights with a daughter with a one year birthday approaching, I thought “perfect! I’ll get her one year photos and support a good cause.”
What I got was more than that though. In addition to the photos and a feel-good charitable donation, I found a photographer whose beautiful, simple, stripped down portrait style captured the beauty and emotions of my daughter. My husband and I loved how her photographic style was un-styled, letting our daughter shine in the picture instead of props or scenery. As a photographer myself, I loved the use of lights and flash Annemie utilized during the shoot; Hannah looked radiant and like herself.
As I frantically tried to figure out what to do staring at my tantruming almost two year old, those memories of her being happy and giggling and showing off her newly acquired walking skills at her first birthday photo shoot felt like distant memories.
“Let’s just take some pictures and maybe she’ll calm down.” Annemie suggested gently. The flash went off, and Hannah looked around curiously. She was still standing there in just her diaper, but Annemie talking to her got her laughing and smiling.
And with patience, the studio portrait session continued and we got the shots. All of them, even the ones with her in those beautiful dresses she protested against so furiously in the beginning. But my favorite photos- the ones that hang in my office and are my screensaver that I look at every day, were the unplanned ones, captured thanks to Annemie’s patience and calming demeanor. And for that, I will always be grateful.