Behind the Lens | When Everything Goes Wrong
A couple of weeks ago was supposed to be my family session with the talented Natalie of Mint Photography. We did a photo swap (you can see her session here) and I was excited to bring my little family in front of her lens. And then it rained, so we cancelled. Ugh. Outfits picked out, schedules arranged, haircut just a few days prior, nails manicured, and the rain completely messed up our plans. So we rescheduled for the following Sunday. On our reschedule date, it was freezing cold with zero sun. But, it wasn't raining. So we looked on the bright side and prepared for our session.
I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a bit of tension and stress as my husband and I attempted to get ourselves and our tired, teething 15 month old ready for a 7:45am session. It was a flurry of ironing shirts, spooning yogurt into my daughter's mouth, trying to blow dry my hair (something that doesn't happen too often these days!) while applying mascara and not losing balance as my aforementioned daughter tugged at my waist... you get the idea. But we made it out the door only 15 minutes late (ha!) and our very gracious photographer was waiting with a smile.
When I got in the car, I realized I'd had no coffee (not a good situation), no breakfast and forgot to put a belt on those jeans that always seem to slowly inch down until I need to annoyingly tug at them in a very unattractive way to bring them back up to my waist. Great. But again, we looked on the bright side. We made it into the car, tired baby and hyper dog and all, and it still wasn't raining.
Once at the field we choose for our session, the real fun began.
It's kind of all a blur after this point. A few minutes into our session, our lab Lexi rolled in some wild animal's green poo, and got totally covered. Goody. Needless to say, we tried to include her in a handful of pics before the grossness of the whole situation forced us to tie her to a nearby tree, which she loved. The rest of our session took place to the soundtrack of a very unhappy dog barking. Nonstop.
About this time, our daughter Neve started getting cold, but kept insisting to take her hat off. The tired crankiness set in, and coupled with her freezing discomfort, caused some very sad toddler tears off and on (mostly on) for the rest of our shoot. I am that mom who tries to avoid candy and obsessively brushes her kid's teeth several times per day... but let me tell you, I was popping smarties into her mouth like they were going out of style. Thank goodness for smarties.
By the end of our session, Neve was screaming. Not an angry, defiant tantrum. But a devastatingly sad cry that said I'm cold, I'm confused, I'm tired, my teeth hurt, and where the heck are we?
At about this time I also realized that I forgot to take my glasses off for the pictures (I prefer contact lenses but am out at the moment). sigh.
We attempted warming up in the car and trying again. Total fail. Finally we packed it up and parted ways. I must have apologized about 30 times to Natalie, who was so patient, gracious, good humoured and creative throughout our entire session. She assured me that it was ok, that this happens all the time. And suddenly I could hear myself through her. How many times have I reassured clients in similar situations? We had to laugh at the irony. The tables had turned. And while the whole experience was exhausting and a little disappointing in the sense that you just want everything to go perfectly because you've prepared so much, it was such a huge learning experience.
I've always strived to be patient and understanding with clients and their children, but there's nothing like experiencing the total loss of control when a child doesn't follow "the plan" firsthand to really understand. And my poor girl, she just needed a nap and some warmth and she was as happy as can be for the rest of the day... figures.
We can plan outfits and locations and have all kinds of creative ideas, but at the end of the day, we simply can't control how a session goes. We have to just roll with it and make the best of it. Children are people too, with real needs, and sometimes those needs trump the photo session.
My point is this. Clients, I've been there. So when I say I understand, I really do.
I've felt that sinking feeling when your child is miserable and impatient and refuses to cooperate and there's nothing you can do about it. Tears, poo, incessant barking, this session had it all. We arrived late. Most of our ideas didn't come to fruition. Did I mention lots of tears? I walked away from this session thinking : As amazing as Natalie is (and she is!), there's no way we'll have any decent photos out of this.
The good news is that we have tons of lovely keepsakes from this disaster of a session.
Natalie captured my daughter's sweet expressions, and even though they aren't all smiles, I love them. They are her. She captured us reading Neve her all-time favourite story book and snuggling her close. I haven't seen all the photos yet, but I love what I've seen. You can check out the blog post with a sampling of pictures here.
Natalie, thank you so much for being patient with us and capturing some sweet memories despite the chaos! I'm amazed at your talent and so glad you could do this for us!
And clients, I cannot stress this enough. Don't feel bad if nothing goes as planned. I have lots of experience with this from a photographer's point of view, and now I have some experience on the client's side, too! :)