On the heels of a weeklong trip to Italy (photos coming soon…I promise), I spent a couple of hours making holiday portraits with Isabella, 7, and Ethan, 4, at their home in Denver. As their photos attest, these are terrific looking kids. One thing about photographing children, though, is you never know what you're in for. More about that in a minute.
Being an on-location photographer, environment is important in adding dimension and interest to my final images. In this session, the location was my client's home, which brings another level of context to these portraits. There's history and storytelling being added, purely as a factor of the environment in which I'm working. For example, the piano in Isabella's pictures is the piano on which she's learning to play. And the bookcase behind Ethan isn't a studio prop, it is part of his dad's office, Ethan's favorite room in the house. In the years ahead, those things will make these picture even more meaningful.
Now, back to my earlier line of thought....
As it turned out, in this session, only one half of the Isabella-Ethan duo was on board with the idea of spending 90 minutes posing for a photographer. While I never asked him specifically, I'm going to guess that four-year-old Ethan figured he'd signed on for maybe 5-10 minutes of photography. Hmmmmm. Sorry, buddy.
The obvious challenge here was going to be keeping Ethan in good spirits, figuring "pouty" was probably not the look mom is hoping for on this year's Christmas cards. Isabella was a champ and hung in there for the entire 90 minutes (though I suspect we'd reached her breaking point, too, by the end). Ethan, on the other hand, required some serious cajoling - goofy faces, yummy treats, a chance to play with my camera, time on the backyard play set, threats with a sharp stick (no, not really), etc., etc., etc. It was touch-and-go for a while but, in the end, everything worked out and I came away with some really sweet pictures.
I wouldn't trade the surprises and challenges of location work for anything. They keep the sessions interesting and keep me on my game. And that's good for everyone.