I’m not sure if you know this, but toddlers can kind of be assholes sometimes. Whoa, whoa… before you get all defensive and momma-bear on me, let me say, I mean that in the most adoring and loving and light-hearted way. You’re all, “Did she just call my baby an A-hole?!?!?” and I’m like, “I mean, am I wrong?” Haha. See, like this kid. She just kept wanting to run around and we kept asking her to sit still. Over and over. What a jerk!
I’m not talking about YOUR kid specifically – heck, I’ll talk about my own. He’s two. He’s amazing and full of laughter and excitement and love and might even be one of the happiest most enjoyable toddlers out there. But he also wakes up from an afternoon nap and hates everything because he’s two and he’s just cranky, dammit. I’ll ask if he wants some milk and he says, “No! Yes? Yes!” and then promptly throws the milk to the ground in a fit of rage when I hand it to him. In general, toddlers are just learning the concept of free will and testing it out. Ask them to sit and they run, ask them to run and they sit. “Chuck, do that thing you’ve been doing all day that has been really funny and cute so Daddy can see!” I’ll say. And he’ll look at me as if to reply, “I will never do that cute thing ever again now that you’re asking me to.”
It’s just a part of family life with young kids. Even the sweetest, most smily, happy kid can have bad days and bad moments. So if you’ve ever seen that side of your own toddler, even if it was only for a brief moment, chances are, it will show up for our photo shoot. Truth.
For example, sweet Anna. Every photo I’ve ever seen of this little lady is one where she is grinning ear to ear. She has an incredible personality and is a buttery ball of joy and enthusiasm. By all accounts, she is one of the world’s least a-hole toddlers. 🙂 But a photo session is a new and unusual experience for kiddos – they show up to something they’ve been promised will be FUN!, we want them to sit or be held and not explore their surroundings. Everyone is pressuring them to smile and saying their name over and over and over, and there’s this weird lady with a camera doing dances and making fart noises. Overall, it can be a bit alarming. So, as many toddlers do, Anna gave me a lot of apprehensive stares and she wasn’t too keen on sitting still or being told what to do.
Is the point of this blog post to make you terrified of doing family photos with a toddler? No. Is it to offend you all by calling your kids mean, inappropriate names? Definitely not. (Sorry, Anna! Love you, Boo!) It’s to say this: We will get your posed-happy-family-everyone-look-at-the-camera-this-is-going-on-the-holiday-card-and-I-paid-good-money-for-this-session-so-EVERYONE-LOOK-AT-THE-CAMERA-AND-SMILE!-photo. I can’t guarantee it, but chances are, we will. We will get smiles. We’ll get snuggles. We’ll capture the perfectly put together family that you’re hoping to freeze in time as proof that sometimes, even if it’s only for a second, you all had your sh*t together. See?
But only if you’re willing to get the other photos too. The thumb sucking and snuggling into daddy’s chest photo. The stop at the stream and throw rocks even if we might get muddy photo. The cracker in hand and cheek full of snacks photo. The mom and dad sit and laugh while the kids run amuck photo. The little explorer photo. The snuggle me I’m tired of these photos photo. The peek-a-boo photo. The sit down in your new white tights and play in the dirt to your heart’s content photo. The we just lied to you and said that Mickey Mouse is flying over Miss Virginia’s head so you’ll look over there photo. The dancing with momma photo. The running around with dadda photo. The don’t hold my hand I want to do it by myself photo. The please hold my hand because I need you photo. And who doesn’t want all of those photos too? Maybe it’s just me, but those are the ones I’d hang on my wall. Those are the ones that capture the essence of childhood and what it is to be a family and bring tears to my eyes as I look through them.
It is the families that embrace it and are able to laugh at their kids that get the most out of our sessions. We sit down, we smile, and we try for a posed shot… and then we run and we play and we laugh and we stop for snacks. So yes, toddlers can be tough at times. But if you let them be and let them explore, if you roll with it with a smile on your face, chances are there will be some incredible moments captured and you will cherish those images most of all.