In an earlier blog post I described my experience shooting a young energetic golden retriever dog. I also promised to tell another story – about a photoshoot involving a cute 2-year old boy. Here it is
One of my friends recently bought a new house, so I decided to use the location for a shoot featuring a young family. My friend kindly provided a property release (and even posed for some of the shots), the models arrived on time and well-prepared, the weather was cooperating, and we didn’t forget to bring any essential equipment. Everything seemed to be perfect… too perfect….
We started a shoot with the family just sitting on the front porch. The boy was very interested in the shoot and posed nicely sitting on his mom’s lap for… just enough time to shoot a couple of frames. And then – he was done. Finished. Not interested. Bored. Any attempt to keep him sitting next to his mom caused his extreme unhappiness. I was aiming for “happy” photos and did not want him to get upset at all. So after it became clear that he won’t do what we ask of him I decided that we would just let him do what he wanted to do and snap the shots at the “right” moment. It worked for a while, and although that approach required adult models to be continuously posing, we did get a few nice shots. But then it was over again! The cute little thing got bored of being in front of the house and decided that it’s much more fun to pick some grass from the lawn near sidewalk. Trying to bring or lure him back to the front yard resulted in kicking and screaming and loud “No”. They don’t call this age “terrible twos” for nothing!
Next began a phase of tricks and entertainment. One of the shots involved the family sitting in a car and looking out of the windows. The boy liked it in a car, but didn’t want to look out of the windows – he was much more interested to see what’s inside. Luckily my husband, who was assisting with the shoot, thought of juggling some toys in front of the car. The kid was fascinated for just enough time for me to get a few shots I wanted. I really liked his face when he was looking at the juggling – happy and engaging. But, as it was to become a pattern, the juggling trick quickly wore off. The shoot started to take it’s own direction – no longer we were shooting what I planned, but now we were thinking on how to entertain the kid to bring out that happy face out of him and and the same time grab a shot here and there. Adults played ball with him on the driveway, made silly faces and sounds. They walked on a sidewalk lifting the boy up and swinging him back and forth. Everyone was involved! I was shooting non-stop hoping that some of the images will turn out good – and they did.
There was a concept, however, that I really wanted to do – a family in their neighborhood holding a red umbrella. So we got the umbrella out and the little boy took immediate interest in it. He became very determined to hold the umbrella. I was able to take only one good photo, right at the beginning, when he was looking up at the umbrella with fascination. I love that image, it was a lucky moment that I was able to capture. After that it became a struggle. Finally we gave up and gave him the umbrella, which he started smashing on a sidewalk with such vigor that we got concerned that he’d harm himself with it. The umbrella had to be taken away. And what a tragedy that was. The boy started crying so hard and so pitifully and kept repeating “Umbwella! Umbweeella…!” that all of us felt like we did something horrible to the poor child. We had to take a break and calm the boy and wait for his tears to dry. Meanwhile the daylight was running out and we still had to do some shots in the backyard.
Trying to catch the last light which was going very quickly, we moved to the backyard and employed our trick number one again – let the boy play near his mom and try to catch a nice moment. Working fast we did manage to get a few shots, but then it was too dark. Thankfully, the boy forgot about “umbwella” by that time and went home happily. We did too – it was a lot of work, but the series of images turned out quite nice. To tell the truth though, I don’t think I will ever photograph a 2 year old again 😉