The reluctant child model

Discussion in 'Portraiture' started by sly, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Yesterday I arrived at a client's house for a family shoot; new baby, Mom, Dad, and small boy. It was obvious from the conversation going on while I unpacked that there had been a lot of pleading for co-operation (maybe even some bribery) going on before I came on the scene. I re-assured the parents that, if necessary, we'd do baby shots only this session, and plan another, no extra charge. Usually those reluctant child models are more willing on a second attempt. That calmed the parents down. The boy continued to insist he was much too busy playing to take part. So the first couple of rolls are baby alone, baby with one or both parents. The last two rolls contain boy wrassling with Dad, boy kidnapping Princess Mom with plastic sword, and also 4 family members, close and smiling, that never would have been possible if boy had been coerced into sitting between his parents with the baby on his lap. We didn't get any of boy holding baby, but we all ended up having fun, and I don't think a second session will be asked for. Provided, of course, that I don't make some idiotic mistake developing this afternoon.
     
  2. zsas

    zsas Member

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    As a parent (and a parent of a five year old boy no less) I would much rather candid shots of him in his element than the sterile "say cheese" shots! I assure you they will be outstanding and the parents will love the comfortable enviornment you created than a forced smile session.
     
  3. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Ten years of packing mules in the wilderness taught me something about how to raise my triplet boys -- and seems to apply in this case.

    There is no way I, at 220 pounds of a bunch muscle (those were the days!), could force a 1200 pound mule to do anything it did not want to do. It was a matter of getting the mule to believe that what I wanted him/her to do was also what the mule wanted to do...and to perhaps adapt what I wanted to do to with what the mule(s) wanted to do.

    Good luck in the processing, the results and with the family!

    Vaughn
     
  4. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    ME TOO!
     
  5. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Yup, some kids are easier to work with than others. Patience is a virtue, as you indicate!
     
  6. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    I'm 51 and I never had kids, though I did shoot portraits of them / weddings with kids as brdesmaids / page boys many years ago. I know I missed out big time on the parenting thing but there are occasions when I see an unruly child and a parent that has no idea how to control them or discipline them that I know I made the right decision for me. I admire good parents immensely - but I don't believe I would have been one.....
     
  7. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Paul, don't let age stop you. One of my Uncles didn't start his family until he was in his 60's. Now that he has two teenagers he claims his maturity and age, combined with a bit of senility, has made it a very pleasant and rewarding experience. My uncle often said that he was unsuited to be a good parent too. Suggestion: "child bride"... meaning, marry a younger woman (if you are not already committed). :smile:
     
  8. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    When you are queer, you usually do not have kids, so my exposition is second-hand. But, let me tell you without equivocation, that I was never permitted to 'act up' at that age. Sorry, but the truth is the truth: quiet, unremitting discipline is sorely lacking in our 'me' culture. Perhaps, less of Dr Spock and more of Dr Spank. - David Lyga
     
  9. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    Right, give the kid a good spanking before a photo shoot, that'll be a great way to get lots of smiles. (not)

    I find in general, if you let the child have some say in what is happening, then you will get far more cooperation, and I tend to get more cooperation when the parents are in the other room. We know what the parents want... we know what the photographer wants, but we rarely listen to the kids. Let them look through the camera, let them pick a roll of film to shoot, explain what you are doing. Just listen to him, let them show you their room, their favorite toys. I had one shoot this last fall where we had them roasting marshmallows at the end of the shoot, and I got some great pix, then. Frankly, we should have had it going the whole time... kids were far more relaxed. Just a few ideas. And it sounds like your shoot went well, Sly!!
     
  10. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I once thought that... until I said it in front of my parents.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    My nephew is seven years old. His parents are not very good cooks, so they serve typical 'kid food', like hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni & cheese, etc. He never finishes a meal. However, when he's with his grandparents (my parents), they let him participate in the cooking. He peels potatoes, chops carrots, cleans vegetables, fries onions, cleans fish - you name it, he does it. He even has a little stool that he and his grandfather built, so that he can reach everything safely. And guess what - he eats ALL of it, enthusiastically. It is quite interesting to watch a seven year old boy dig into blue mussels and kalamata olives with enthusiasm. :smile:
    I'm willing to bet my camera trigger finger that this behavior too, same as Suzanne suggests, is due to being involved, being allowed to make decisions, and participating. He loves being part of the process, to be listened to, and to reap the benefits of the work that went into creating the meal.
     
  12. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    LOL! My three boys are 14. And while I am not a great cook, the boys eat everything and attack the fridge 20 minutes later! I am divorced and the boys are with me every other week...so I know they eat better at their mom's every other week...:D

    But very good point, Thomas!
     
  13. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    We have three separate portrait lines (two retail and one commercial) that we do out of our studio in Atlanta. I love working with children in the studio; it's safe and comfortable, but it's not their home, so wonderful things happen and they almost never pitch a fit. If they are fussy, we give them some time to play with the toys and get comfortable, and they usually end up having a great time.

    Apart from the logistics (not to mention increased time and expense) of having to travel to see every client, we love the "controlled chaos" you can create in the studio. Makes for amazing portraits. Stuffiness nowhere to be found!

    Thomas has it right, you have to make the kids a part of the process. We always let them fire the strobes, look at the back of the camera (oops, did I say that out loud?), throw stuffed animals around. We do anything to break through and create compelling portraiture. The experience the children directly influences how much the parents invest in and ultimately treasure what we create.

    We also have three boys who have learned daddy's (me) love of cooking. Last weekend, we made Pad Thai, Beef Satay and Tom Yum soup and they gobbled it up!
     
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  15. Dinesh

    Dinesh Subscriber

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    Thomas is very wise.

    We have a print of my son that, when I looked at the negative, I didn't remember taking. It was only after a few minutes of inspecting the neg. that I noticed the Hassy cable in his hand. He must have tripped the shutter when I left the room.
     
  16. David Lyga

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    Still, and I know this to be politically incorrect, Brian and Suzanne, but lack of correct and private disclipline with children is one of the core causes of adult immaturity and inability to be able to exercise responsibility in later life. Today, children are 'consulted'. True, my own father 'ordered' for sake of ordering but, compared to today's 'must feel good in order to develop self-esteem' garbage, I would rather the extreme in the other direction if it came down to that. If I had kids you would be sure that they: received much love and nurturing, but you could be as sure that they would not 'call the shots' and there would be no excuses made. It's rather amazing how Oriental children are usually invested with this forbearance. I wonder why?!?!

    Including children so that they feel significant is one thing. That is something that I do wish my father had done. But including them to the point whereby their thoughts, suddenly and miraculously, become equivalent with adult decisions, negating the wisdom continuum, becomes fatuous, foolhardy, and provides a foundation for obstinance and lack of consideration for others. I truly believe that we humans must 'earn' credibility and stature in life, instead of simply giving it to children simply because we wish to make them feel Oh so good. Self-esteem is not as important as we, collectively, make it out to be. Doing what is right, morally and ethically, becomes paramount, even if it causes tears. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2012
  17. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I don't disagree with you David (except that you were a "perfect" or "ideal" child who never had a tantrum in your life). :smile:

    Kids will have both tantrums and "those moments" no matter how much love, nurturing, or dominance is applied by parents. It comes with their age, and fortunately leaves with age too. It is affected by sleep, hunger, and boredom. It is also affected by their God-given personalities.

    The longer I exist on this earth as a parent, the more I realize that parenting is tough... and the more I realize that only a parent can best understand kids. Even "former parents" seem to loose that skill.

    Re: gay people and children... there are plenty of gay parents out their. Some adopt and other surrogate. Interestingly, despite having strong opinions on that topic... those kids end up being decent people and fairly normal too. Kids are kids, and kids are quite resilient.
     
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  18. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    See, I disagree with this logic. While it might be perceived that the "good ole days" were all spanks and no nonsense, there were also an entire generation of kids with freedom and the chance to self govern that the kids of this generation simply don't have. I have a wide age range of kids (oldest is 19 and youngest is 3) and have been doing some extensive reading as to why the generation y (teens to 20 something's) act the way they do. The entitlement they feel and the attitude of not working hard for something because somebody somewhere surely owes it to me anyway - makes me think there is a huge problem. These kids grew up with more government regulations on parenting (no spanking, kids cannot be left alone, etc ...) and with child predators running rampant and crime levels escalating, parents have to eagle eye their kids. Instant gratification, cell phones and the Internet have ruined these kids. Bad things lurk around every cyber corner and sexting is rampant. No wonder parents have to be CONSTANTLY involved with everything their kids do ... Resulting in kids EXPECTING everything to be done for them.

    So - I really don't think it's a LACK of discipline, but rather this generation has not had the benefit of living a SIMPLE, independent life like we did as kids. No walking around the neighborhood barefoot after dark, playing with buddies...

    I saw this coming and decided to move to a TINY town with virtually no crime and a big church community (which we didn't have in the city). We are now comfortable giving our boys a bit more freedom than we could before, and have something to offer them OTHER than tv, Internet or cell phones. It's called OUTSIDE - and they love it.

    Rambling on the iPhone, so 'scuse my typoes!!
     
  19. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    AMEN
     
  20. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    Sorry, Katie, I do not fully embrace you. Perceived 'entitlement' is really the problem here. (and, no, I am not a Republican). I have traveled throughout Europe, Mexico, and Canada, and state openly and without equivocation, that kids in the USA are whinning much more, louder, and less considerate than their counterparts elsewhere.

    Again, the core problem stems from letting them get away with whatever makes them feel good. We simply do not wish to 'disappoint' the little darlings and, if they are physically cute, so the more we do not wish to disappoint them. That is truly ridiculous. A physically 'ugly' kid is just as worthy of nurturing and respect as one who fulfulls our idiotic 'Hollywood' paradigm. But we need to counteract the 'swift disclipline' with also letting them know that they are, indeed, important and not merely a vehicle 'created to follow orders'. That does not necessarily mean explaining each and every countering action we take but it does mean that family time (regardless whether husband & wife or two queer parents, it makes no difference) must include them at least some of the time. Barking orders for the sake of dictatorial control is a fault of faulty parenting. You get what I mean.

    I will not back from that assessment and the only person who can 'dissuade' me is the Moderator, with his potent DELETE button. I am not trying to 'flame' but, rather, stick to my guns. You are all good, caring people but I feel that some of your thinking is on the wrong track. I really am sick and tired of parents implicating that tantrums and such are 'normal' and must be both expected and accepted. Even at three years old kids can be taught forbearance. They do not have to be continually treated like precious entities that must not, never, ever, be 'hurt' with words they do not wish to hear. If I had a child dart out into traffic you can bet your ass that his ass would be red, immediately and even swiftly. And, yes, Brian, I DID have tantrums but those tantrums were quickly extinquished, without 'apology'.

    And, Brian, I canot say "AMEN" to Katie's response because I am agnostic. Please forbear. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2012
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    ... but back to the topic... my most successful child portrait was after an hour of posing a kid before a large format camera when he (5 years old at the time) started fidgetting, getting distracted, whining about how long it was taking and how boring the process was, but then said, "I'd rather pose this way". He posed "that way" and it worked.
     
  22. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    ... and what's a kid photo thread without a picture?
     

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  23. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    David - I AM republican and it has nothin to do with this.

    Nor does religion.

    Nor does socio-economic status.

    Nor does sexuality.

    Parents have always done things to make their kids happy - nothing has changed there. There are many who still spank and many who are still emotionally distant from their kids. This doesn't make a difference in my point either.

    This generation as a whole has at their fingertips such an amass of information and communication abilities, that they see what "everyone else is doing" and there are no longer any distance barriers in society. What was only present in very specific areas is now rampant thanks to technology and the child left to think on their own (reflecting - what ever happened to that??) is now consoled by 1,000s of Facebook friends who have done the same thing and tell them that it's okay. Parents aren't alone anymore - every discipline action is dissected by peers and discussed at parent teacher conferences.

    As for my country - history has shown us that each generation responds to and is molded by industrialism/technology. There is a direct correlation between major strides in technology and a changing society as a whole. Maybe the differences yiu notice in foreign countries is due to their lack of advancement in comparison to the USA. I'm not saying that the places you mentioned are third world countries, but perhaps not as advanced as us.

    And don't feel bad about the embrace - I'm not a hugger. I also really appreciate debate and discussion, so I'm grateful for those that don't necessarily agree with me. If we all were the same, then we might as well be north Korea.
     
  24. ParkerSmithPhoto

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    Nice one!
     
  25. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    Parker - forget kids, your dog portraits are blowing me away!!! Care to mentor and share your wisdom? :smile:
     
  26. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Decades ago, before I had kids of my own, I had strong opinions about parenting. Then I had 3. My personal parenting style evolved into attachment parenting for babies/toddlers, and an emphasis on respect - in both directions parent-child, and child-parent, as my kids grew.
    I've worked as a midwife for 30 years - which has given me a unique window into the workings of many families.
    What I've learned over the years is that every child and every parent is unique. The things that worked great for my oldest child and I, did not work for my 2nd (or my 3rd). There's no way I'd presume to dictate to another parent. It's the toughest job there is, and one has to be constantly re-assessing and changing tacks. Everyone makes mistakes as a parent, and an awful lot of people are waiting to pass judgment. Especially complete strangers who've never had kids.

    The negatives look great. I'll post some when I get a chance.

    Really love that sweet portrait, Brian.