Over the past year, I’ve struggled with getting photos of my own two boys together. After the little one passed the newborn phase, it got a lot more challenging to get the two of them to cooperate for photos together. I got frustrated for so many reasons…one of them is a morning person, the other is not; one likes to be in our garden, the other does not, etc.
A while back, I decided to stop offering family/children’s sessions for several reasons (other than the Disneyland sessions, which I love). First, I have had several major injuries over the past few years that have really slowed me down (I’m starting to feel better though, which I’m excited about!). Second, I got absolutely soured on family sessions after fall family mini sessions this past year (mini sessions are short and so rushed that it makes everyone feel tense and stressed out, putting pressure on the kids to behave and perform for the camera). Third, I designed my garden for maternity, newborns and babies. I don’t really enjoy having other people’s kids literally dig into my garden, yanking out entire plants, or jumping around and banging on walls in my glass greenhouse. It all got to be too high stress for me (yes, those things actually happened, several times). Fourth, I am not an outgoing, goofy, clown around type of person. I am an introvert and I like to capture beautiful things while quietly moving around. That’s part of the reason newborn sessions are my favorite…I don’t feel the pressure to be silly or babble on endlessly!
So I stopped offering family and children’s sessions. I tried several times to get my boys dressed in cute outfits and pose for photos together, usually in my garden, and it pretty much always resulted in less than happy facial expressions from them. My older son used to take direction and pose so well when he was about two years old, and my little one does okay on his own, but with the two of them together, it has mostly been a disaster.
The past couple of weeks have been incredibly intense for me health-wise. I had a surgery about a month ago, that led to a nasty post-op infection, which then led to another surgery and a biopsy. So for the past two weeks, I sat and worried in terror that there was a possibility that I may have cancer. It was actually not the first cancer scare I’ve had, so I worried that this time it may be actually happening. I tried to stay positive but my mind kept going toward worst-case scenarios. I started reviewing photos in my various hard drives, thinking about what kind of family heirlooms I would leave behind for my boys if I were gone. I realized how disappointing it would be to just find pictures of other people’s babies, and nearly no photos of themselves.
Usually for Mother’s Day, I like to do a self portrait with my boys but this year I didn’t want in the photos. I didn’t want to deal with trying to force them to cooperate in my studio. I also knew that my very expressive eyes wouldn’t be able to hide the palpable worry and anxiety I was feeling over the past two weeks. No amount of botox could hide the look of “I really hope I’m not dying…I can’t leave these boys!” that has been written all over my face lately. So I decided to try to do photos with just the two boys. I looked back at some of my older photos, and the ones I really loved the most of my older son were not when he was dressed up in a fancy outfit and posing perfectly, but ones where I just captured him having fun on a hike, or a trip to the beach, playing at home, etc. So I decided to bring my little adventurers out on a little hike and see what resulted. The photos aren’t perfect, and I would do several things differently the next time, but they are happy. I am so excited I decided to do this, and am definitely going to start making a habit of doing this on a regular basis.
The photos below are from our Mother’s Day adventure. The best part…I just found out yesterday that I am cancer-free! We don’t have any answers about what has been causing my symptoms that mimicked a tumor, but the good news is I should be sticking around for the foreseeable future! That’s all that matters to me. I can handle a bit of chronic pain any day…I’m totally used to that. 😉 The doctor did think that the majority of the symptoms were mostly likely lingering pain from the infection I got, so hopefully I will be feeling more back to normal shortly anyway!
These little squirt guns totally would not have been incorporated into the photos if I really tried to control this session (because I don’t like the bright colors), but the boys are currently obsessed with them and insisted that they bring them along lol. We tried to hide them for a few shots and it didn’t go well so I gave up and went with the flow!
“Hug your brother and smile” doesn’t usually result in a photo-worthy moment, but while they are out exploring, it’s a different story apparently!
I have been trying to capture the little one’s “turtle smile” for an entire year! He won’t do it on command. I finally captured it and I am so excited. My older son is a lot more goofy, but the little one is a lot more reserved (more like me I think).
At the end, they even listened when I asked them to “go stand next to each other and smile at me”! I couldn’t be more pleased.
I had also gotten discouraged from doing family/children’s photography after working on the editorial staff for an online fine art magazine a while back. The majority of the photos submitted/published for children involved perfectly posed children in beautiful outfits, with gorgeous editing. I know this is definitely the trend lately for fine art children’s photography. I tend to consider myself more of a fine art photographer than a lifestyle photographer, so my frustrations with my own boys’ lack of cooperation for photos like that left me feeling frustrated and inadequate as a children’s photographer. Then I started thinking about it….most of those photos I was comparing to are usually of little girls! Little boys are so much different and don’t like to pose the same way. I am learning to let go of my preconceived ideas of what type of photo makes a good children’s photo. 😉
I still need to test out a few more things with my recovery from my knee injury, but I will be offering casual children’s/family sessions like this one soon. More details will be coming soon once I am absolutely sure my knee can handle it, but in the meantime, you can contact me for more information if you are interested in photos like this of your own family!