I understand. I do.
I know you’re super stressed out when you’ve paid for a photo session and your angelic progeny suddenly start acting strangely.
I see that look of dread in your eye when you realize that the piece of candy or the change of hats is not going to be enough to stave off a meltdown.
I’ve seen you walk away, disappointed and somewhat embarrassed, and hoping for at least one good shot. (We do usually get it, so never fear.)
There’s something magical about a portrait session that either makes kids suddenly shy or uncharacteristically wild. I have no wise words to offer you, other than that I get it. I’ve been there too. Kids are hard. Taking pictures of kids is hard. They don’t care what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. In the words of my daughter, who is thick in the throes of being a “threenager” (not as funny as it might sound): “I want to do what I want to do. And I don’t want anyone to tell me no, ever.”
The internet makes it difficult to see what life is really like for other parents. People tend to only share photos of their families having fun, smiling, and doing wholesome, educational activities. We share pictures of ourselves shopping at the Farmer’s Market, but we somehow forget to document our jaunts to Walmart. We show our kids happily modeling their backpacks on the first day of school, but we neglect to share the photos of them crying over homework (I hear I was legendary at this). But the internet is not real life. Not everything looks like a Christmas card. So, in the interest of parental sympathy and full disclosure, I thought I’d show you some of my favorite miserable children… and this time, they’re mine.
Here’s James on a typical afternoon, after I tell him I will no longer retrieve the drumstick he has been repeatedly throwing down the stairs:
And here’s James again, 10 minutes later, because I took his ukulele away (because he was banging it on the floor):
Here’s Caroline, pre-James, clearly not interested in being photographed with her mother:
This one is actually by the talented Laura Matney of Laura’s Focus Photography. She has recently moved to Maryland, but before she left, we traded family photo sessions (which, I won’t lie, is a perk of this job). Caroline had a major meltdown at the end of our session because we wouldn’t let her run through a busy parking lot (I know, I know… we’re terrible). We actually had to end our session early because she was in such a state. Caroline continued to wail for 30 minutes after Laura left, so I think it was a good decision. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and hope bedtime isn’t too far off.
Oh, and here’s how my children play nicely together (these were taken on three different days, but we clearly love that green dress):
So, anyway. I get it. My kids aren’t always 110% awesome either. Please don’t feel bad if your children are not superbly behaved, perfectly coiffed angels when you do your session with me. One benefit of documentary photography is that I get to shoot what happens, hopefully capturing what your life is really like. And sometimes that includes meltdowns and other messes. I won’t judge, I promise.
I hear it gets better. Let’s just hang in there and try to laugh about it.
And to Caroline and James, who may read this in the future, I’m sorry (a little). I’ll talk about your good qualities some other time.