Wrapping up a session at the Arboretum (meaning walking back to my car, evaluating time from parking lot to bed for well-deserved nap), I stumble upon two exotic-looking wee girls in an alley. An estimated four-year old model and her matching mini-me.
“Aaaah don’t move! Hold that pose! No, no, don’t move!” I say, trying really hard to hypnotize them into stillness while digging my camera out of the bag.
By the time I adjust my exposure, the lovely portrait I had in mind turns into the following:
Since inadvertently precipitating the fall of tiny daughter (but happy to have recorded the event), I figure it would be rather proper at this point to introduce myself to the mom. The least I can do. Really.
Joy seems definitely more receptive to my Belgian devilish charm than cohort Ivy. Ivy does not like me much. Coming across as a freakish photographer barging in out of nowhere may have something to do with it.
Joy is a HAM. She gets up, works her angles and gives me… Zoolander’s Blue Steel. I swear!
Then, prima donna-like, breaks into an aria…
And bursts out laughing.
My five minutes are over. I love my life.
When young children take me more seriously than their parents do, I know I am in for a wild ride.
From the onset, the kids appeared anxious to please me (a first!) and show their best profile.
The parents and the grand-mother from California, on the other hand, were not inclined to follow suit.
The progressive granny almost fell in the river.
The mom kept playing peek-a-boo with the stone structures of the park.
Grand-ma and son expressed a wish for a portrait together and made me wonder what kind of Christmas cards they sent to family and friends.
Still the children kept delivering… shot after shot.
The Little Mermaid
Then… the adults’ giddy spirit got to them.
And since the kids were already wet…
So glad I did not have to put these little drenched ones in my car.
I should have been shopping on the Champs-Elysees (with the exchange rate, a total BARGAIN, I tell you!), musing in the Tuileries, visiting the weedy grave of my favorite Frenchman EVER, Pierre Desproges, at Le Pere Lachaise, or hanging out Aux Deux Magots, but no, instead I was a dutiful photographer, stayed in the hotel and processed Blair and Blake’s session. Yes, Mrs. B., just for you.
As evidenced by the following photos, it had taken a while for the kids to relax. That was okay since I love the look of pensive children, voire slightly offended…
Blake, slightly offended
After a while, the sunny side of their personalities emerges:
Forgetting my presence
Mrs.B., oh you so owe me! Just kidding. It was raining anyway. 😉
Parents, sometimes you make my job so difficult. By the time your little angels look at me through my lens, it’s generally too late for any kind of behavioral change. Irreparable harm has been caused.
My number one pet peeve: the cheese smile. I’ll know it right away. I lift my camera to my eye for the first time and immediately the kid breaks into an uncomfortable smirk while the parent behind me, blissfully proud, goes: “Cheeeese!”
Here is the thing – parents will never be happy with the photograph and it will take me at least 30 minutes to get a natural expression.
Pet peeve numero Duo: refrain from tattooing your child with a big red dragon just before the session. It totally ruins any kind of romantic spin I’m trying to create.
And finally, pet peeve three, OMG what do your kids watch on TV?
Okay. It seems as if I am all indignant but in all honesty, the poses kids come up with crack me up! I just do not want the parents to think that I am in any way responsible for these seductive displays!
As a portrait photographer, my job is to capture the personality of my subject, its essence if you will. I pride myself in being particularly good with children, but sometimes, due to circumstances beyond my control, a kid’s fine subtleties seem more complex to figure out than those of others…
The husband of the amazon showed up, baby in tow for the photo session. I opened the door, took one look, knew I would have to dig up the ladder from the garage, yet again. Not to mention find the wider angle lens.
I would not have expected a six foot tall woman to join in holy matrimony a man over whom she would tower, but did she really have to pick a six foot nine hunk? What do they want from a 5’2″ photographer? Immortalize their nostrils?
With all the giants currently in my portfolio, I’m thinking investing in an OSHA approved ladder and pitching my services to the NBA.
Lil’ Miss J. has a fairly conservative mother and a wild painted toe-nail artist for a father. When mom’s birthday came around, a Hallmark card just wouldn’t do. We gave the child a tat and a beaner and let her express her love in front of the camera.
We saved the nose-piercing for next year.
What are you feeding your kids in the morning? Rhetorical question. I know exactly what lays in the cherubs’ bowls. Batteries. By the spoonful. Not the regular kind either. Fancy batteries, the ones which keep on going and going… Two hours before the shoot for maximum effect.
Since beginning to photograph 2 year olds on a regular base, I have rescinded my gym membership. Lean Cuisines now belong to the past. I pack for the Arboretum as if embarking on an African safari, my sport lens firmly affixed to the camera. And after chasing Michael Johnson Jr. all over the park for about an hour, I face the unavoidable apologetic look in the eyes of the exhausted parents.
Oh parents, you really should not feel sorry. The rule goes like this: Kids wake up on their second birthday, they start running and they don’t stop until they reach three. Look at it from my perspective: unlike you, I get to go home and take a nap.
“As a Valentine’s gift for my husband, I would like you to photograph my seven week old baby girl.”
“Sure,” I said, “that poses no problem.”
“With my dogs.”
“Ah… Little dogs?”
“No, not so little.”
“Ah.” I reply, hating myself for sounding so inarticulate, but momentarily incapable of finding the appropriate words to describe the panic which now clearly overcomes me. Vivid images are streaming in front of my eyes. Ayer’s Rock. Meryl Streep. “The dingo’s got my baby!”
Turns out Nick the canine giant seemed much more interested in tasting the nanny. Thank goodness for small favors!