The challenges of a 3 yr old photo session


With weddings being my primary genre of photography, I don’t get many opportunities to shoot kids.   But I never mind taking our daughter out for some practice…and to get some images for our own personal family memories.  However, each time I attempt a photo session with my daughter….I am quickly reminded how different it is compared to shooting a wedding.  It presents a totally different set of challenges from working with couples on a wedding day.  Usually, I’m in some sort of creative control, but with kids you simply have to get what you can, when you can, while you can.  I thought it would be entertaining to show how a typical photo session with our daughter evolves.

Pretty much every session starts off with the first photo you see which is…”I’m pissed and I plan to be totally uncooperative…and I could care less about your creative vision“.  Then after some initial bribing, I get “Okay, I’ll look at the camera, but NOT smile”. Followed by “Now I’ll smile, but NOT look at the camera”. Can’t you already see where this is headed ?

Then we transition to “I’ll totally ignore all of your directions and just make a goofy face“.  Then we finally get something that resembles a usable image…Looking at the camera, half smile, decent expression.  She’s warming up right ?  Negative! Then we get another goofy face. <Sigh>Charlotte-wedding-photographer-blog_0002

We manage to get lucky and snag a few usable images. I’m not exaggerating….I really mean a few, as in these 3 you see here

Then we try a change of scenery. Mind you…as we are walking to a different location, she’s totally distracted by leaves, bugs, throwing rocks, etc. I mean, no focus whatsover. I figure if we try some shots with her standing up, that might help get her back in the ‘zone’. The first one is not so bad…cute expression, but her hands were a little cold which is why one is tucked in her coat and the other one is doing it’s own thing. Then, she started feeling herself and gave me the fiercest, dramatically over-posed swagger a 3 yr old could give…LOL!!

Another location and it’s “I’m tired of taking pics now and kinda ready for this to be over with“.  Still doing her own thing. It’s just comical at this point.

I figure I’ve gotten all I can and the shoot is over but finally…she figured she’s tortured me enough and gives me some adorable photos that I can be proud of and made the struggle all worth it 🙂  What you don’t see here is all the unusable shots that were out of focus from the excessive squirming, lack of attention, flat out sprinting, and anything else she could do to make it as frustrating as possible.  In the end, I feel like I have to shoot 25 or so shots just to get one. I hope this gives some sort of glimpse into what I have to go through to get a shot or two of a 3 yr old.  Or maybe it could just be OUR 3 yr old ?   But in the end, I cherish every single image our little girl and I’d do it all over again without hesitation.


  • Mary Ann Harrington · Posted 01-17-15 at 1:10 am · Link · Reply

    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL Mike! She is adorable! I love the story and think you should submit this to the Observer! I mean it….I’m going to share this with Cliff, my husband who is a managing editor with the Observer. I see you and your beautiful wife on Sunday but never get to talk to you. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you soon! You should submit this story!

  • Eunice B. Gist · Posted 01-18-15 at 11:43 pm · Link · Reply

    Terrific job, to say the least. Now, there is room for your daughter’s first book, with dad creating a Cover Title to
    fit the gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing.

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