I love taking photographs of my children. I love capturing the moment, for us and for them, and sharing the children as they grow with friends and family who don’t get to see them as often as they would like. I’m the first to admit that I have become a baby bore, my Facebook page flooded with yet more photos of the children. I am well aware that people may be looking at them, rolling their eyes and sighing, “More photos? Really?”.
People often look at the many photos that I take of my children and comment, “Your kids must really love the camera” but let me tell you, they couldn’t be more wrong! They don’t. They hate it. Getting a decent photo has now become a full time occupation, a combination of bribery, trickery and outright fluke.
From the minute they were born I have taken countless photos each day. And there is no better time for photos than as newborns, they are literally the perfect model! They lie there, exactly where you’ve placed them, in whatever position you’ve put them in and they don’t move until the photo is taken. I have thousands of photos of my children as newborns, in exactly the same position, slumped on the couch with the same expressionless face, identical other than the changing babygros.
When the babies were little, every night when Gaz came home from the work I would be there waiting, my phone shoved in his face, telling him,
“Look at this!! Cutest photo ever!!”
“Aww cute” he would comment.
“But look at her little face, look at her pouty little mouth!” I would continue.
“Yep cute” he would say again.
“But look at her little button nose!! Look at her eyelashes!!” I would tell him, “Its the cutest photo EVER!!!”
“Yeah yeah, whatever you say” he would mumble, far less interested than I would be expecting.
And each night the same thing, me with my ten thousand photos of the baby, still just slumped on the sofa, ready to show him the cutest photo ever. One night when he came home I was waiting, “Wait ’til you see this!” I announced as I reached for my phone.
“Let me guess? Cutest photo ever?!” he asked and I pulled back my hand and retreated into a sulk. Maybe, just maybe I was taking too many photos.
But then they would hit that lovely stage, around six weeks old, when their windy little smiles turned to proper little grins and I spent hours trying to capture it on camera. Their fleeting little smiles were so few and far between that it would take ninja speed to catch them on camera. I would literally sit all day waiting for them to finally break into a grin, my phone poised and ready and the, that awful moment, we’ve all been there….
PHONE MEMORY FULL
You’re frantically slapping at your phone, a quick race over to Instagram – your photographic saviour – and then finally, after all these hours, a beautiful beaming smile!!!! You press click…and five seconds later, when the moment has well and truly passed, the photo finally takes!!! Aggggghhhh!!
And then as they grow and become interested in absolutely EVERYTHING, the chances of them looking anywhere near the camera become less and less. For every one good photo of them you’ve got another 500 in your deleted folder where they are blinking, crying, blurred or lunging for your phone. You sit there making clicking noises, whistling, tapping the floor, waving your hands/rattle/anything you can get your hands on, making animal noises, dancing, pulling your funniest faces, fake coughing and sneezing, all the things that usually have them in stitches…..and they sit there chewing on a sock, staring out of the window or up at the ceiling like you aren’t even there.
And then you teach them to say “cheese” which is possibly the biggest mistake you will ever make. Because children don’t just say “cheese” like we do. They say “CHEESEEESE” with their necks craned out, their eyes squeezed shut and their teeth gnashing together.
I have become the master of trying to find other words that give them a better facial expression, something that resembles even the smallest smile. I’ve found “me” is a good one. “Who wants chocolate?”, “Meeeeeeeeee”…..and click!!!!
It’s ironic that Harry, the most sweet natured, smiley baby will not smile for the camera. It’s as though somebody found a switch at the back of his neck and turned off smile mode. He just isn’t interested. He will scowl, he will sneer, he will raise one lip in an Elvis fashion, but very rarely will he smile.
And Megan, who surprised us all as, despite the fact that she screamed for the first year of her life, one of her first words was cheese and she would willingly pose and smile whenever the camera came near her. She has a beautiful little face and the most gorgeous smile but somewhere along the way, around 18 months, she decided that, under the influence of her sister, she too hated the camera and that was the end of that. Now when we ask her to smile we are greeted with the mother of all gurns! You’ve never seen anything like it!
Eva is the most vocal about her hatred of the camera. She will scream, cry and hide her face in disgust. As a baby she was so breathtakingly beautiful and was snapped up by a child’s modelling agency. It was cut short by the fact that during castings she would outright refuse to even sit in front of the camera, let alone look at it! We tried to coax her with chocolate, sweets, the promise of treats and toys but before long we realised that actually, as beautiful as our little girl was, her stubbornness knew no limits. And that was that.
And then there is my Lewis. My handsome, smiley, photogenic boy. From being a baby he has happily sat and smiled for the camera, posed for family photos and flashed his perfect smile. And then he hit ten, eleven and it all became a drama. Before I can even take the photo he will rush off to the bathroom to check his hair, make sure that his quiff has just the right level of volume without being “too quiffy”, then upstairs to change his top as God forbid he didn’t look his best, and only then can I take a photo. Or twenty. Even thirty. “Take another one just incase” he says as I am snapping on repeat. He then critically examines each photo, instantly deleting any that he deems make him look “un-cool” (*sigh*) and then, and only then, am I allowed to have that one perfect photo which I can message to him so he can upload it to Instagram with the appropriate hashtag. #whatadrama
Getting a photo of the four of them has proved mission impossible. Just getting them to sit in the same place for more than five seconds exhausts my ninja skills. By the time you’ve got one sitting down at one end of the couch, the one at the other end is jumping off the back of it! And if by some miracle I get them all sat down, the odds of them all looking at the camera at the same time are zero to none! Poor Lewis sits there, with his perfectly coiffed hair, his smile unfaltering as I desperately try and get the attention of the other three who are by this point crying, smacking each other over the head or covering their face with their hands and it’s only a matter of time before Lewis’s smile drops and he asks, “Can I go back on my play station now?”.
There is just so much to contend with when you’re trying to take photos of children. Things I had never even considered before now!
The bad hair days….
The unexpected photo bombs by inanimate objects….
The nose picker…
And the times when props go wrong….
The only good photographs that I get now of my children are the ones that I take when nobody is looking. The ones where I whip my phone out with lightening speed before they’ve even had a chance to see it. And they are some of my favourite photos. Not the ones where the children are sitting, pristine, gazing at the camera, but the ones where Megan is doing her best Les Dawson impression, Eva is closing her eyes and covering her face, Harry is chewing on his foot and Lewis is sat texting on his phone. The ones where their faces are grubby, their hair streaked with sauce, their beautiful little faces scrunched into angry scowls. Because that is my family right there, with their funny little faces and their crazy expressions. My beautiful little miseries.