This is my new niece, Tessa, who will be about 7 weeks old when this column prints. Doesn’t she look just so relaxed and perfectly festive for the holiday season?
Don’t all babies in professional-type photos just look like a person can easily mold them into whatever poses they want?
I found out recently that this type of thinking really isn’t the case, and I now have a newfound respect for photographers who shoot photos primarily of children for a living.
Jack, my 2-year-old nephew, and Tessa are both very well-behaved children, so I thought when my sister, Krista, asked me to take newborn photos of Tessa and holiday photos of her and Jack, it would be a piece of cake. I’d take about 15 very cute photos at each shoot, and we’d call it a day.
During the first photo shoot at Krista and Jason’s — my brother-in-law — house, I learned babies are … well, like little people.
They find things irritating that I would find irritating.
Imagine this scenario: You’re all comfortable in your favorite pair of pajamas lying on the couch or in bed taking a nice catnap.
Suddenly, a person roughly 20 times your size scoops you up, takes off your pj’s and dresses you in some frilly, pink getup that is not warm at all.
Then some strange man you’ve seen once starts directing your mother to move you in all sorts of directions on a bed and in a basket rimmed with shiny things.
If I were subject to this type of treatment, I would probably scream hysterically and try to run.
Babies, as far as I know, do not possess the ability to run, so they pretty much have to lie there and take whatever treatment a photographer has in store for them.
They do have the ability to scream and cry, though, which Tessa did plenty during our first photo shoot.
Thankfully, I was able to get about 15 nice photos of her between crying spats.
I shot a total of about 250 to get those 15.
She was in a better mood — and slightly older, which I think helps — during the holiday photos I took of her and Jack at my parents’ house.
My mom also had the heat in the house cranked up to a near-tropical level, which makes being in a frilly, not-so-comfortable outfit more bearable, I guess.
Again, especially since Tessa was more relaxed this time, I thought I’d be able to take a handful of photos, and then we’d be good to go.
I ended up taking about 300 to get 30 good ones.
I’d take a couple of shots, look at the camera to check the photos, and more often than not, something just looked funky.
In one shot, Tessa would have a lazy-looking eye that kind of made it seem like she had downed a shot or two of gin before showing up for this photo shoot.
In many photos, Jack would be staring off into space or making imaginary binoculars with his hands.
In the good ones, my mom is off in the background somewhere making some ridiculous noise or face to get their attention.
Getting nice photos of kids really is a team effort sometimes.
True, it is a challenge to get nice, clear, natural-looking photos of young children, but it’s fun, at least with my nephew and niece.
I think they’re about as cooperative as young kids can be, and it’s nice to spend time with them, my sister and Jason.
I still haven’t decided if I’ll take photos of children I’m not related to if someone approaches me with the request.
I’ve seen some children who are absolutely terrible; you know, the ones that unwrap and eat not-yet-paid-for candy bars at grocery store checkout lines while mom, dad or both scream at them at the top of their lungs to no effect. In witnessing situations like that, I think to myself, “Man, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that kid.”
As a photographer of children not related to you, there’s always the chance you might have an appointment with “that kid.”
But I guess I shouldn’t let that scare me. I now know a few tricks of the trade to get children to smile and look adorable: Have some person behind you contorting his or her face into goofy expressions and/or turn the heat up in the house to a level that’s warm enough to melt the candy bar “that kid” stole from the grocery store.