A Lesson in Not Giving up

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Yesterday I decided it was a good day to photograph the kids for their Easter pictures. Well, really, they were more like spring pictures as we aren’t that religious. We celebrate Easter, but in an “it’s complicated” kind of way. But I digress.

I got the backdrop out, loaded film, opened windows, set my scrim against the backdrop stand to bounce light, got Henry all dressed up (last minute to avoid dirtying the outfit), and began to shoot. He was the embodiment of chaos. I should know by now that an almost 6-month-old (tomorrow, actually) will not sit, lay, or play quietly or calmly. He kicked the backdrop, enjoying the sound the paper made, then he found a piece of tape and went for it, tearing the paper until I noticed. He wasn’t satisfied with the one tear in the paper. Apparently, you can provide all-day entertainment with a backdrop as long as you don’t mind it being destroyed. I got a few shots, and then he was done, ready to eat, ready to nap, ready to do anything other than have his photo taken.

Then came Sofie. She had just arrived home from a little outing with Ben and jumped at the opportunity to put her Easter dresses on and get in front of the camera. But the moment I held the camera up, she became a weird, alternative version of herself. The one who makes silly faces, won’t stop lifting her dress, does weird things with her hands. I couldn’t get her to stand still, smile, look at the window or just, you know, be herself. So I just started shooting. I shot several moments in between her silly ones, and I shot several silly ones. I just kept going until she was done.

After I felt like I got the best photos I could and began cleaning up, I noticed how pretty the light in her bedroom was and how she looked so pretty against the backdrop of her daybed. I grabbed my camera and asked her to jump on the bed, something she never gets to do. And suddenly it clicked. She became herself. The silly faces went away. It was just me and Sofie in her room. The camera was almost invisible.

The lesson? Be patient. Keep shooting. You don’t need to exhaust your client, by any means. But the reality is that all I needed to do was to keep the camera up and wait for her to ease into who she really is. It’s okay to take breaks, change environments, have conversations with your clients. It’s okay to just shoot the stuff that makes you cringe (don’t actually cringe though, that’s not okay) and let your client get to a point where they don’t notice the camera anymore.

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