(tampa photographer) As I downloaded and scrolled through a recent session it inspired me to write this post on evening sessions with children. As a mom I am all to familiar with “the witching hour” which I am sure most moms reading this know, that is the hour in the evening (it is a different hour for every child but usually with in a couple hours of bedtime) when your most precious, adorable, perfect child is MISERABLE and you are to! This hour(s) creates fussy, cranky, needy children and this hour is very often what makes us moms count the seconds until bedtime. Although my children have now outgrown this hour (yay for me!) I remember it with not so much fondness very clearly. That is why when a mom emails or calls me to chat about a location session, I have a list of questions and a few things to chat about before we actually schedule.
As many of you may know, location sessions most often happen in the evenings about an hour before sunset. Depending on the time of year that could make the session start as late as 7:30 pm. Can they happen during the day or in the morning? Sure, however, the lighting is not as beautiful, the grass is usually wet (at least in the mornings) and it is often more difficult to find those shady areas that help keep your eyes from squinting in the bright sunlight.
So, back to that list… the first thing I usually ask is “How old are your children?”. If they tell me that their child(ren) are under 5, my next question is “How are they in the evenings?”. And we begin a very enlightening (at least I like to think so :)) conversation about evening sessions with young children. I always tell my potential client that I will of course take their pictures no matter what if they think their family is ready for it but I always like to remind them that it is not a great time for children to be at their best. And we do always get some great shots but there is a good chance that they many not have as many to choose from. Believe me, I have done MANY sessions in the evenings with young children…. how about 1 year old twins on the beach…. yea, i know, crazy! BUT, although VERY challenging, mom loved her gallery and it really told the story of how her family was at that point in time. She will always remember that time when her *babies* kept her on her toes (I am sure that is an understatement) and when she looks back at those pictures, I am sure she smiles and remembers that time with fondness. You can see some peaks of that session here.
So… that brings me back to my recent session. This particular mom and I had this discussion about evening sessions and one year olds. In her defense, we were trying to somewhat replicate a session we had done with her older child at ONE at the park. That session was great and he did just fine but as we know, every child is different. So off we trotted to UT (The University of Tampa) and began our session among at least 3 other sessions happening there at the same time 🙂 . Now, I love this location, it is beautiful with many options for backgrounds and beautiful light. But as I have learned over the many years of photographing children in the evening, this is when all photography “rules” go out the door and we just get what we can. The photographer in me REALLY (I mean REALLY) wants those perfect pictures, in the perfect light, beautifully in focus with an amazing smile or an adorable connection between siblings or family and believe me, I try SUPER HARD to get those (I think that my clients will tell you this… we *play* HARD at our sessions :)). We trot around the campus and we corral the kid(s) to my choice of backgrounds with beautiful light shining through the trees or landscape (my clients probably don’t even know that I am looking at all this but I am… as we walk around). We get the child(ren) perfectly placed and I turn on my *amazing* personality (lol!) and back up just a little bit to get what I think I need to in the frame of my camera…. By the time I get to the place I need to be (literally a split second- I move fast :)) there is a good chance the child is either up and moving, crying, or giving my silly sounds and faces a completely “blank” stare (even though I must say, I am rather funny). Mom and dad do *magic* tricks behind me (I will video this someday) but to no avail, there is no perfect smile or even a hint of happiness. Maybe we could qualify it as a cute *look* in this “perfect” spot…. but instead he gets up, moves to a NOT perfect spot and gives the most amazing smile ever….
Don’t know who’s thumb that is trying to keep him there for a minute (probably big brothers) 🙂
Will mom care? I have no idea, probably not … I like to think that in most cases I am the only one that cares about those perfect backgrounds (it is the photographer in me, I can’t help it- I am sure most other photographers can relate). Moms mostly just care about happy children and precious portraits that will put a smile on their faces as they walk by. It is just a “bonus” to get all of the things together in one shot. Here are some fun “behind the scenes pictures from this session as well as a few “gems” so this poor mommy who has not gotten her gallery yet doesn’t think that there are not any other shots as well. 🙂
We ended this session with a cake smash (after all what is a one year old session with out a yummy cake to end the night?) and although this session did have its issues, from all of the balloons popping (notice the amount of balloons in the beginning to the end), to adorable but busy toddlers, windy, and of course mosquitos, over all it was a great experience. And when I really think about it, almost all sessions bring their own unique set of issues whether they are in the mornings, in the studio, planned around naps or during the “witching hour”. Is an evening session right for you if you have little ones? You will have to decide… I think it went fine for this family! I think they will be very happy with their gallery! 🙂 (tampa photographer)