Photographer's Child Syndrome: Proof of Less-Than-Lovely-Photos Over Here

Monday, October 8, 2012

It was Sunday morning. In a flash of brilliance, I assembled a church outfit for Lucy that was so ridiculously cute that I could barely look at her without shielding my eyes from the DARLINGNESS of it. I mean, her church clothes are always pretty cute, but this.... this SURPASSED "cute" and went into "this needs to be copyrighted, it's so cute" levels. And somehow, my mom-mojo rocked on and I accidentally dressed Noah in something that kind of remotely matched. There were stripes in the collective unconscious, I swear it. In fact, when Noah saw Lucy in her outfit, he hollered that she looked just like her doll, Poppy-- and she DID. Even Poppy was in on it.

So it followed that I needed to get this momentous, matching, cute-overload duo captured in photos. It's the natural conclusion when you're a photographer, right?? So, knowing I was going to make us late for church, I grabbed my camera bag, my kids, and Poppy the doll, and we detoured to a little old church two blocks from my house to get THE CUTEST PHOTOS EVER.

Easy. They were already dressed and ready, the stone steps were in shade, and I was ahead of schedule anyway.

So easy.

Except. Has anyone heard of PCS? Photographer's Child Syndrome?

This is a very real condition afflicting children of photographers everywhere. Caused from an overexposure to a giant SLR camera shoved in their general direction since birth, the symptoms include:

* inability to look directly at the camera.
* ever.
* unless they are wearing a completely unusable expression.
* especially if there is more than one child. (Only one at a time will look at the camera.  
   Probably with an unusable expression.)
* temporary deafness.
* defiance.
* extreme wiggles.
* sudden fits of crying.
* general wicked/naughty/terrible behavior.

Oh, laugh if you want to... But this is VERY REAL. Sure, I have managed to get some winners of my own children over the years. But I never tell you HOW MANY SHOTS it has taken to get the good ones. I am not kidding when I tell you it is usually at least twice (usually more) the amount I'd have to take of a client's child who is unrelated to me. SO MANY FAILED PHOTOS to get to one keeper. It's the worst. I won't even get into the other side of the PCS coin-- Photographer Parent Rage. It's ugly, I tell you. Swift, irrational, and ugly.


Back to the story. This one Sunday morning. Cute, cute kids in church clothes. An easy detour to some old stone steps and just a few cute shots to capture it all. Easy.

I took 30 photos. I really didn't have time for more than that anyway, and by photo 15, it was clear this was a lost cause. I present to you all 30. You tell me PCS isn't a real phenomenon.

[We start with just Lucy. She's the primary reason for this detour. Give her Poppy. Sit her on a step. Instant whining, crying. Before shooting even one shot, it takes a few crazy attempts at distraction before I can even get her to stop crying and look at me. But of course, she is reaching for the things I am using to distract her:]
 Photobucket Photobucket 

[Try another tactic: "Lucy! Fold your arms!" She does. But the PCS Face is in full force. I am now just trying to get her to look at me AND look cute, so I don't notice myself cropping off her feet. Nice.]  Photobucket
[Fine. Ugh. Let's just switch gears and try Noah in here. Maybe I can get a few of them both before total meltdowns occur.]
 [Surely the nearly-5-year-old will be my easy one. He listens, understands bribes, etc. Right? Hahahahahaha. He's always been worse than Lucy. Look, Lucy! Yay, Lucy! Noah? Noah?] Photobucket Photobucket  
[Note: This church I am shooting at has NEVER showed any signs of life. EVER. In the middle of my own private circus/hell, a pastorly looking older dude comes out from the side of the building and stands from afar, kind of watching/sternly glaring in our direction. No words. Just standing. The heck? I've never seen ANYONE here. Of course, it makes me sweat/stress/get/more frustrated. And it keeps Noah's attention away from me. Awesome. I ignore the dude and quietly hiss at Noah to "Look over HERE!!"]

[He looks at the camera, finally. Nice.]
[Ugh. Fine. Lucy seems in a better mood. I'll zoom over to her and get some tight shots with just her.]Photobucket
[Okay. We're getting closer to one I might actually KEEP. Too bad brother's arm is in the shot. And I am still cropping her cute shoes accidentally. Blah. I'll take what I can get.] 
[Aside: doesn't Poppy the doll TOTALLY match? Isn't this outfit SO cute? *sigh*] Photobucket

[Okay. OKAY! Lucy is looking! Sitting still! Almost smiling, even! Noah! NOAH!!!!!! Come on, look this way! Now now now!! And SMILE, dammit!] Photobucket  
[With your FINGER IN YOUR EAR. Nice. *eyeroll*]

[Well, we've lost focus again.]

[Try putting your arm around her. ??]



30 photos. THIRTY. 1 and 5/7ths of them are keepers. 

Except I am going to keep them all. And laugh (so I don't cry). And show the world that when it comes to photographing my own kids, spectacular failures are more common than people realize. And that's okay. Hey- I tried. 

And even with wonky expressions and tears and grimaces, these are the days, and the moments, and I want to remember them all.


(Incidentally, the cure for PCS is simple: Just stop taking their photos and get someone else to do it. But since I love catching them in the day-to-day as much as in the more "formal" sessions, I'm afraid I'm not open to implementing the cure. Poor them. Poor me. Guess I'll keep taking 1,654,398 photos to get a handful worth keeping. 


  1. This had me giggling out loud. And they were both super cute in those outfits.

  2. At least they are adorable... and one day, when Lucy laments about how her own kids will never smile in the pictures SHE takes of them... you can whip these bad boys out as evidence that NEITHER DID SHE. :)

  3. I love this. I laughed pretty dang hard. At least Poppy was good. She smiled the whole time! Except for the first few when Lucy is smashing her face into the concrete. I can't see her expression, but I can imagine.

    P.S. ...I love your occasional use of slightly inappropriate words. Am I allowed to say that?? Makes me feel better that I'm not the only one. Makes me feel like someone else in the world would approve when I silently pat myself on the back the extremely few times I do something awesome by whispering to myself, "Marissa, that was a badass move right there." Thank you for giving me that.

  4. And now YOUR comment has me laughing hard, Marissa!! Poppy in the concrete! Such truth!!

    And *phew* with the "dammit" insertion. I honestly debated it for like, 60 whole seconds. Because I DO think/talk that way-- light innapropriateness-- but my MOTHER reads this, and my mother-in-law, etc... and I don't want them to worry about me, ya know?? Haha!

  5. "the other side of the PCS coin-- Photographer Parent Rage." <<<< Exactly why I don't even bother trying to shoot all of my kids at once anymore.

    Oh, I laughed so hard, THANK YOU!

  6. Oh my word, hilarious, and so true, even for those of us who are not photographers, just shutter happy Mamas. :) I have to say though, that despite the picture perfect photography fail, the kids and candid real life shots are adorable. And those outfits are so sweet I think I got a cavity from reading this post...

  7. Pure awesomeness:) I love reading your posts:)

  8. Dying laughing... Only because I can relate all too well. Even the ones that aren't perfect are still kind of perfect Emily... They are just so cute!

  9. That is seriously hilarious. The "arm around her" shots are my favorite and sadly too familiar.

  10. Oh my, thanks for the laugh. And each photo is just precious to me!

  11. The tights! Where did you get them? I think Baylee is going to be "Olivia" (the pig) for Halloween and I need some striped tights. Those are so cute and can be used on a regular basis. All of the ones I've found so far are cheap looking and would only get one use.

  12. HAHAHAHA!!!!!! Finally catching up on blog posts and found this one. So funny! and SO TRUE!!!! lol!!! oh, so fabulous. <3

  13. Ohmygosh! This cracked me up! Because every time I want to get a picture of my kids they end up in a choke hold. Why is that? Even WITH the bribes. LOL


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