This week I photographed a large family with four kids under 6 years old. This is nothing new but hearing a comment from one of the parents resonated with me because I have been in the same position with my family. We were about halfway done with the session when the one of the kids decided it was time to have a fit. Tarzan screams, funny animal sounds, and bribes with ice cream had no affect. I saw the frustration build in the parents faces and the child fed off this energy as if there were sharks smelling blood in the water.
The last time my family planned to have a family portrait created, I wanted it too bad and our eldest child knew it. For a little while she had the power and decided to be uncooperative. If I would have only relaxed and let go, things would proceeded much better. Instead, I became the frustrated father. In retrospect it would have been better to take a brief timeout.
Life gives us opportunities to learn and it when it comes to kids, sometimes its smart to try and understand what its like to be a kid. Our child is testing her boundaries and finding out what she can and cant do. This is important for her development.
So, the next time we have our family portrait created I will be more relaxed. Hopefully without the scent of blood, our daughter will be relaxed as well. However, in the event one of the kids should have a tantrum, rather than get stressed, I will take a short time out in order to relax. I will offer the same advice to our clients.
Mieko and I know as professionals that with the absence of pressure on children, most of the time kids have fun and enjoy the family portrait session. However, each child is different. Sometimes, regardless of what parents do, a child will melt down.
If this should occur, portraits can still be made that capture the personality of a family. In this case we would have the everyone sit on the beach and look at the view, sunset, boat or whale on the horizon. We might also have everyone looking at each other. This often stops frowns and starts smiles. Walking away from the camera and jumping into the setting sun are also great options. This captures a family in action. While we cant see the faces we can feel the emotional impact and let our minds go back to a beautiful place called Maui.
When it comes to having portraits of family created the goal is to capture the love and relationships that exist within a family. If their is frustration & stress it will show up, so its best to just let go. Otherwise its time for time out!
Enjoy family. Live life. Aloha