Friday, June 19, 2009

Cheese

There are many things about having a big family that are made more difficult by the sheer number of people involved. One that comes to mind quickly is taking pictures. There are very valid reasons that I prefer pictures of the kids playing, swinging or twirling over posed pictures. I prefer, almost always, individual pictures to the group ones. Kids are far more relaxed and natural when you capture them just being kids, and forget trying to get them to sit still and smile.

I take tons and tons of pictures of the kids. I try to get pictures with all of them occasionally, and it almost never works. I should be able to do this, right? I mean, come on - other people pay me for this stuff. In fact, taking pictures of young children is my specialty. But taking a picture of all four of my own children is no easy task. There is one fundamental reason for my inability to take a decent picture of all four kids - it's because they are my kids, and not someone else's.

This might sound crazy to some, but it is a truth validated by my fellow photographers time and time again. The most difficult subjects are the ones that belong to you. My kids, like most kids, listen better to other people when it comes to taking pictures. I love taking pictures of them one at a time. But you get all of them together and the difficulty level rises exponentially.

Getting four little people to cooperate is hard. Posing, sitting still, smiling without looking like they are in complete agony - no easy feat. One of the most difficult things to do is to get the older ones to sit still and smile continuously, holding their positions indefinitely until the baby looks in the right direction and smiles.

Having been both behind the camera and been the mother of the subjects, I know that I am far more patient as a photographer than I am as a mother. Give me other people's kids, and I have no issues waiting for the fit to be over. Waiting for the redness in their face from crying to fade. Waiting for a diaper change. Waiting for a toddler to finally decide to sit. But when I am in the other position - as the mother trying to get my kids to do those things, I am less patient. And if I am trying to be both the mother and the photographer, you'd better hope I am in a good place to start out with. Because it won't take long for my nerves to get fried.

I've had people ask why I don't get the kids pictures taken as often as I used to. Mostly it is because it is a waste of money. I could wallpaper my house with the baby pictures I have of Aidan - I took him all the time it seemed. What am I ever going to do with all those pictures, honestly? Since I started doing photography, it's been fun for me to take the kids pictures myself. Mine usually come out better than the studio ones anyway.

I took them this week for the annual Father's Day pictures. I survived, they survived. And they are almost all looking in the right direction. Hey, almost. ;) That's good enough for me.

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