The two-year-old is in charge, and that’s fine. Maybe not for every situation, but during a family portrait session the two-year-old should be in charge. Just think about how many times you’re simply taken by how adorable your toddler is and you want to remember that moment forever. So you take your phone out and start “directing” your subject, and that’s where adorable ends and frustrating begins. Let’s be honest… Your subject is two. Your subject could care less about posing, looking, smiling, or playing on command. Obedience isn’t a fine art at that age. Your best bet is to join them in the fun and go with it. Take video with your phone to document their toddler babble and infectious laughter, love the blurry pictures you do take, and hire a professional for the rest – as long as the professional photographer understands that the two-year-old really is in charge. What do I mean by that?
Let’s take this beautiful family for example. The parents are firmly in charge when it comes to parenting. I’m talking about the one hour that I’m capturing all that gooey cuteness their phones are not sufficient for. Before I even got my camera out, I made sure that this little boy knew I was someone he could play with and laugh at. I earned my playmate badge of honor every time I interacted with this family, especially during their planning session. I paid attention to his favorite toys, the songs he likes to sing, and if my famous fish lips would get a reaction out of him. I would run around the halls with him when he wanted to run, I let him take the lead on exploring, and I would sneak bubbles out of my purse when he was looking bored. Just so you know, I always have bubbles in my purse. If you are stuck in traffic with me on a summer day, you may or may not see me blowing bubbles out of the car window. That’s beside the point. My point is, this little boy knew that I was going to play with him every time he saw me, and so that’s how I led this portrait family session. I let him explore, I let him run, I let him play with his parents, I gushed about how big he was, and I had a few surprises tucked away in my camera bag if moods went south. In between all that I took advantage of when he was cooperative to smile for the camera and be directed into a pose, but my favorite pictures are always the ones where the two-year-old was in charge.
This particular two-year-old (and his parents) are amazing, by the way. He is building his own language skills – seriously, he has a very particular and consistent vocabulary and grammar structure that only he and his parents understand. Having lived in another country and learned a different alphabet and language, I am truly impressed with his language ability (even if I can’t understand it). For example, he has his own words for everything and he consistently puts the adjectives behind the nouns (like in most foreign languages). When you ask him his name, he says, “Yayaya!” That doesn’t sound anything like his name, but that’s how he feels about himself. His mom even said, “Nobody loves Yayaya more than Yayaya loves Yayaya!” Well, she used his real name, but since I don’t mention names in my blog posts for privacy’s sake, I just stuck with Yayaya. When they left after reviewing their images from this session, the two-year-old spotted his reflection in a mirror and gleefully shouted, “Bye, Yayaya!” He might have even blown himself a kiss on the way out. He truly delights himself, which delights his parents!
He has a lot to teach us about loving ourselves and letting God love us the way God wants to love us. His mom told me, “I have to be dependent on God for parenting because you can’t control it. I know it will be fine because Jesus loves him more than I do.” One of her favorite narratives in the Bible is on the Sea of Galilee. As she recounts it, “Jesus Christ is snoozing in the back and everyone else is freaking out!” Much like out-of-control circumstances in life, right? She continues with why this account of Jesus and his disciples is so relevant to her, “I can get frustrated – and I need to let go of the idea that I’m in control and realize the One who is in control of everything is within arm’s reach and I have access to Him!”
I’m so glad I’m getting to know this family better. They are new to the area, like us. They went to a Nazarene college and play tennis, like me. Whoa. Let me back up. I played tennis in high school. It was my attempt to try a sport and give athleticism a chance. We parted ways a while ago, me and athleticism. This family still loves the game! They are building their family, planting themselves in small groups in the community, and looking for ways to serve and love on those around them. In all, they are marveling at the new ways God is expressing his love for them, even if life is difficult and transition is exhausting. God remains good and Yayaya remains delightful. I look forward to seeing these photos on their walls and on their Christmas cards!
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Thanks for reading! This is one of the ways I put a smile back in the world.
- Posted by hellobabs
- On November 22, 2021
- 2 Comments