Monday, September 03, 2007

Is this for me?

Oh man. The joys of owning a business where the outcome is so personal to someone...

I had my very first family portrait session this weekend as part of my business. I did it for free to get the experience, and I felt really good about being able to do that because it was such a sweet, new family. But boy, was it a learning experience.

First, I stressed for weeks about how to get a 15 month-old to be happy in the pictures. I thought I'd considered everything. Let the family pick a place familiar to them: check. Bring toys for distraction: check. Start early to avoid the heat: check. Have the baby dressed in something comfortable: check. But oh man, the things I just don't understand about kids....

This kid was teething. I know that means they're usually unhappy, but this kid was PISSED. He really didn't want to be there. And also? I thought having the photos at a playground near their house would be a good idea, but this poor guy had never been to a playground before. I never would have thought that would be a factor. I had them race down side-by-side slides to get him loosened up but it terrified him and his parents were totally uncomfortable doing it. I had his dad put him on his shoulders, but I don't think that had ever happened before either, so again I misjudged. And worst of all, I didn't account for the fact that the grass would be totally wet. So I took a kid who was unhappy to start with, I made him go down a slide, then I made his behind wet. It was just this side of disasterous.

And did I ever beat myself up over this whole thing. I stressed about it like you wouldn't believe. And then I got to my computer to see what I had and I found that even in the pictures where baby was actually looking at the camera (not one single smile), most of them found the dad with his eyes closed. I'm just heartbroken over the whole thing because I really wanted to do something nice for these people, and I desperately wanted it to be a good experience.

When all was said and done, I found just 2 family pics that I liked, and I sent those with a mess of others that they might like (baby alone, baby on shoulders, baby looking adorable with mom). And then I waited. And waited. And then I got a very kind email from Mom thanking me for my time, but basically they didn't like the pictures. I nearly cried. I so wanted to do a good job for them....

Then I lost sleep, wondering if this business is for me after all. And I adore my husband, but I was afraid him telling me I did a good job was because he just wanted me to feel better about it.

I don't know. I'm having serious doubts about this whole thing, and I really don't want to base it on this one experience, but I'm having nightmares. Last night I dreamed I showed up for my Oct 5th wedding and the wedding place told me I wasn't on their approved photographer list.

Did I make a mistake? I hope not.

At the very least, my Photoshop skills are stellar (can you see the fix I made? Hint: I hope it makes the Mom very happy and its the same thing all magazines do to supermodels...):


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's always hard taking pictures of a little one especially if they didnt' want to be there.
I think your work is fabulous.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Mia said...

First of all there is no pleasing a kid who is teething. And the fact that the kid has never been to the playground near their house at 15 months, much less any playground, says something about the family. And the fact that it sounds like he was uncomfortable with his father says a lot as well. You said you let the family pick the location so they are the ones who picked it out.

The photos that you took look great. But there is something about the family dynamic that is off. The father is sitting behind the mom without even touching her in anyway. Plus it looks like he isn't part of the family unit. Maybe that is the problem.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Amanda Cowan said...

I love the change you took a few years off I think..

1:31 PM  
Blogger Ramona said...

I also like the change you made, and think that the picture is really nice.
Don't give up on your dream, and try to take this as a postive learning experience.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous inzane said...

oh i dunno man, the two you show here are pretty good. it's not your fault the kid didnt want to cooperate. such is the adventure that is child portrature ;)

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

free pictures! sign me up. she most not have ever paid for family shots before. you just saved her hundreds of dollars. her lost.

4:08 PM  
Blogger African Kelli said...

You made her thin and you took free photos. The complaints must go in one ear and out the other!
Did she ever respond to the changes?

3:40 PM  
Blogger rohanknitter said...

Don't beat yourself up. I've had my kids to plenty of photography sessions and my motto was as long as the kid isn't screaming, it's all good. Sometimes a picture-perfect smile is just NOT going to happen. (In fact, I have had to tell people to stop trying to make the baby smile because you are just pissing him off!)
I think the photo of the 3 of them on the slide is adorable -what's not to like??

12:47 PM  
Blogger rohanknitter said...

ps. wish someone would fix my droopy chin in a picture!!

12:49 PM  
Blogger Piecake said...

When my daughter was 23 months old we had pictures done in our home and she just would not smile for the photographer. We totally understood it wasn't the photographers fault. I think most people with kids will understand that no one can predicate how they will react.

One tip - a different photographer used a feather duster to tickle my daughter's foot and that was a big hit. It was one of those long feather dusters with all the colors in it. The handle was long enough that the photographer could reach her foot and still be behind the camera to take the picture when she smiled. Also, the photographer set the camera on a stand and clicked while she kept eye contact with my daughter and made goofy faces, noises and did the peek-a-boo thing.

8:07 PM  

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    Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

    I'm Amanda. I'm an engineer in an industry full of men, a professional wedding and family portrait photographer, a firefighter's wife, a traveler, and a dogMa.

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