When young whipper snappers are your subject, the key to a successful photo shoot is bribery. Shameless, shameless, bribery. I am quite comfortable recommending this because at one point, light years ago, I too used to be a little whipper snapper and I played the bribery card game like a Vegas poker champ.
Listen Sears photographer, if you want me to crack a grin for your camera and look at that parrot hand puppet, you better deliver on your promise that there will be lollipops at the end of this day. I have places to be and trees to climb, and I don't bust out this baby-tooth smile for just anyone.
So even if my childhood was light years ago, I still distinctly remember that when pictures were concerned, the promise of tooth rotting candy, gem sticker earrings, and/or plastic jewellery was key to making me the sweetest of subjects. And oh, I could be sweet. In fact, I could have given those Toddlers and Tiara babes a run for their money if given a chance to have walked the pageant stage; fortunately, I didn't have a mother who suffered from such low self-esteem that she needed total strangers to tell her that her kid was best in show in order to feel some measure of worth.
So instead I dazzled the Sears photographer and earned lollipops and sticky earrings. Now given that I remember how key the end-of-day treat is, it's unfortunate that when I was doing the picture shoot of Jana's family I failed miserably on my bribing item of choice.
The Sunday afternoon that we picked for photos was hot. In fact, let me repeat that:
HOT, TOTALLY HOT, I SHED TEN POUNDS OF WATER WEIGHT, DID I MENTION IT WAS HOT, BECAUSE OMG IT WAS SO FREAKING HOT.
Yeah, it was warm out. And when we were driving up to the intended shoot location we were all (adults and kids alike) sticking to our seats and feeling quite uncomfortable. I tried to insert a bit of breeze into the day by telling the kids that I had a fun treat for them when we were finished taking pictures. Their excitement was palpable, and with the exception of baby Colt, I felt proud that maybe the combined efforts of Jana's treats and mine would guarantee sunny smiles.
The girls were an absolute dream--so well behaved--and I was excited to give them their treat when we were half way through the afternoon. Well Internet, my treats for the kids were some chocolate eggs and a chocolate bar, and it wasn't even the good kind of bar like a Mars bar or Wunderbar. It was a solid bar of Swiss chocolate.
When I lifted the chocolate bar out of my bag I knew instantly that my treat was a fail. First of all, kids aren't all about the solid chocolate; that's totally an adult thing, and how could I have forgotten that?! So when I lifted out the chocolate bar the girls only looked sort of excited (Who can blame them? Chocolate! Gawd, I can't believe I've become such a lame adult!) but Camille still made a motion to investigate the bar. But then Jana announced, "Don't touch it! Don't touch it! It's way too soft, it has to go home in the freezer!"
Well, have you ever had three sets of eyes look at you in abject disappointment?
Not only was my chocolate bribery treat super lame-o times a hundred, it was also liquefied by the hot desert heat and they couldn't eat it. Good thing that's why Jana's the mom and she brought a tub of jelly bugs to be eaten.
Day = Saved.
But little baby Colt, well he was another force to be reckoned with that day, and not only was he not impressed with my bribe (well, he's a bit young) it's very fair to say he was not impressed with me. Period. End of story.
You see, Colt and I unfortunately toddled off onto the wrong foot earlier that day when I got to Jana and Trent's place: Jana had to run upstairs to grab one more thing before we left, Trent was around the back getting the dog, and Colt and I were left alone on the landing. All it took was one full look at me, a quick look over his shoulder to double check that yep, he was alone with me, before his 'stranger danger' instincts kicked in and he was a sobbing wreck.
Poor Colt, but I'm used to it. You should see how people treat me when I dare enter the Globus in my hiking boots and crummy jeans.
For the rest of the day I had the most difficult time getting him to look at me; I think he believed that ignoring me meant I didn't exist, and really I had to respect his panache. I mean, how many times have you ever been to a dinner party and you ended up being seated next to someone you can't stand? Wouldn't it be great if we could all just burst into hysterical sobs and let it be known we don't like our seatmate and WE WANT TO GO HOME NOW.
Why do we have to grow out of that?
Luckily for Jana and Trent, their beautiful little family isn't growing too fast as all the kids are still in that adorable 'blunt honesty' stage, and I loved every minute of our day together.
Here's a peek.
I feel really lucky that Jana asked me, for the second year in a row, to capture this moment in her family's story. I'm not a photographer, the light changes so fast I hardly ever remember to keep up with it, and I actully don't know what I'm doing or how to direct people, I just really like taking pictures; I love being able to freeze one second for a thousand. And though the results don't due her family justice, I am grateful that for one day I got to be a part of it all: be a part of the heat, the juice boxes, the lame-o chocolate meltdown, the gummy bugs, the smiles, and the laughs.
Because this family: they laugh.