When my oldest was almost two years old, we took him to get his first set of Christmas portaits done. He was a cheerful kid, and always loved getting his picture taken so we didn’t think it would be hard to get a good photo. I bought a cute little dressy outfit for him – with a vest a tie and the whole works – and headed to the portrait studio.
The photographer had all kinds of ideas in her head for what she wanted to do. We sat him amidst a bunch of fake presents and he kept getting up and walking away. She tried all kinds of backgrounds and many different props but he remained uninterested and downright grumpy. I was surprised that my normally camera-ready child was acting this way and I was a little embarrassed too. We were ready to give up and try again another day.
He kept pointing at a rocking horse in the corner of the studio, and I’m not sure the photographer knew what he was trying to tell her. I looked at him and then at my husband, “I think he wants to sit on the horse,” I told her. She looked at the horse, “Oh, um, okay. I guess we can do that,” and she went to grab it.
His face lit up as soon as we let him climb onto the horse. She snapped a bunch of quick shots. Pure gold! It was obvious to us that pictures turn out much better if you let the child act naturally. We only picked one pose, but we went with one where he was making kind of a goofy smile – it looked more him than any of the others. Our family loved the pictures we gave to them and I’ll never forget that experience.