UPDATE: This post was made as Shinn Shots Photography and does not represent the style or goals of Blue Space Photography. Because I believe in knowing where you’ve come from, I’ve left this here as a reminder of the journey that led me to where I am today. I now only shoot storytelling sessions, so be sure to check out my current work in more recent posts! – Lauren
My senior year in high school, I opted to work in the PPO office during a class period. My fellow classmate, Laura, worked with me and we became good friends during that semester. I am notorious for having a terrible memory, but I do remember that the work was easy, we had lots of laughs, and we made many Muppet references.
Apparently not much changes in 15 years.
Laura emailed me a few months ago because her family hadn’t had pictures made in about six years. In that time, they’d had a baby (who was now five!), gotten to their ten year wedding anniversary, and her husband Dylan had just completed a fifteen month tour in Afghanistan. Plus, they were finally going to be in the US for awhile after their stay in Istanbul. Seems like some pretty good excuses for family pictures, if you ask me!
Laura assured me during our email exchanges that she was still the same Laura I remembered and that her family matched her in silliness. She was right! We had so much fun playing games and telling stories with silly voices during our session.
Their daughter, Natalie, loved all the silly games I had and was having a great time running full steam ahead. And then, like a less formidable relative of the energizer bunny, she just ran out of energy, powered down, and got cranky. Maybe it was the jet lag from traveling from Istanbul to the US four days earlier. Maybe it’s because she didn’t have much for breakfast and was hungry (and refused a snack). Maybe it was because she didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Or, more likely, maybe it was all three. I myself, at much older than six, still have a hard timing pulling myself together when I’m tired and hungry. What’s the term I’ve seen floating around? Hangry. Yup, Natalie and I both get hangry.
About a year ago, I realized that the child(ren) hold all the power during a photo session. The parents…the photographer…everyone wants them to smile and participate. But I am here to tell you that if a kid doesn’t want to smile, they don’t have to. They have the added bonus of not caring at all about getting a good family picture. They’ve got nothing to lose. I tend to pride myself on being able to work with the challenging kids and getting them to actually enjoy the session. I use my intuition to try to understand what makes the child tick and how we can work together. Sometimes they need space. Sometimes they need interaction. Sometimes they just need time. I tried everything I could think of, but I couldn’t pull Natalie out of her funk. She won. But not before I got plenty of fabulous pictures during that first hour!
Look at those blue eyes!
It’ll probably be at least six more years before I get to take the R family’s pictures again. They’re off on their next adventure to DC to learn Slovak and then on to Slovenia. Laura, I’m so glad you emailed me! Your family is wonderfully funny and your adventures suit you. I can’t wait to see you again the next time you’re stateside!