When Mr. Smiley Didn’t Want to Smile

I lovingly nicknamed one of my Watch Me Grow baby portrait planners “Mr. Smiley” because he is ALWAYS cheerful and happy.  He even smiled in his newborn session.  So when he showed up for his 12 month session and he was less than happy to see me, I was a little concerned.  Did I do something wrong?  Was he feeling sick?  I tried all my tricks including putting the camera down to play games, ignoring him to talk to mom for a while, falling down and rolling on the grass…  I even discussed the option of rescheduling for a better time of day with his mom.  But she knew he was just entering that phase of babyhood known as “stranger anxiety”.

It’s a good phase.  It is a protection that keeps toddlers from going to strangers who could be dangerous (as well as those who mean them no harm).  Almost every little one will go through it.  I was just surprised MY “Mr. Smiley” was going through it today!   I remembered my youngest did the same thing at his one-year session and how the photographer pulled back and let me be the entertainer.  So, I pulled out the long lens (Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L) and backed up.  Mom and Mr. Smiley walked a good distance away and played.  I looked in the opposite direction so he would not notice me staring.  Then, after a few minutes, Mr. Smiley was back.  And he was as precious as ever!

For photographers who may be reading this post, don’t hesitate to disengage with toddlers.  We often feel  pressure to create smiles and happy times, and for many sessions that is why our clients love us.  But with toddlers who have a fear of strangers, we are scary folks behind a really big, monster (camera).  Be flexible, be patient, and be ready to zoom.





Lovely comments so far...

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