At one point in my high school career, while trying to figure out what the heck to do with my life, I spent some time volunteering at a local Head Start program. Elementary education was a pretty popular career choice in my circle of friends, and I figured I should probably check it out for myself. After a few months of pondering I decided against it, and didn’t think much of it until I happened to mention it offhand to my husband a couple of years ago- “Did you know I thought about becoming a kindergarten teacher once?” Ohhhhhh, if you could have heard him laugh at me.
When Brooke contacted me in August, asking what I would think about doing some photos of her and her sister’s children together, I flashed back to my high school experience. Why did I go there? Well, it turned out that there would be four children… all under the age of 4! I was excited, but would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a twinge of panic. Getting four young children to like me and smile for me and SIT STILL? This would be interesting.
We met at Highland Park on just about the most perfect early September evening you can imagine. Thinking about it now as I write this in February is practically making me sigh out loud. I spent a few minutes getting to know Brooke’s boys before their cousins arrived. Soon the other children joined us, and it was go time.
What followed would become one of my favorite sessions of the year. Golden sunlight, gorgeous greenery and flowers, laughing children. The children ranged in age from 10 months old to 3 ½ years, and each had their own very distinct personalities. My head spun a bit as I alternated between a serious discussion about whether Anna or Elsa was the best princess, to blowing raspberries at the babies, to chasing the big kids.
There is always a moment on every shoot where I check the back of the camera and feel butterflies in my stomach. If you’re a photographer reading this, you’ll know what I mean- that moment where you realize that you nailed it- that one photo that really captures the personality of your subject. Well during this shoot I was lucky enough to feel those butterflies over and over and over. Looking at the photos from this day, I can see all the children so clearly: the intelligent boy with the old soul and a bit of a wild streak; the sweet and nurturing little girl who is such a little mother herself; the shy toddler just beginning to explore the world on his own; and the cautious but friendly baby whose toothy smile will melt you (if you can pull it from him!). I even managed to get them all together! These cousins clearly adore each other.
I’m going to have to remember more of my training from my high school volunteering days. About a month after this shoot, Brooke’s sister gave birth to a little boy… and about a month after that, Brooke let me know that she was expecting another boy as well! If you’re keeping track, that means that the next time I photograph this bunch , there will be SIX children! Am I panicking? Well, maybe a little. But the truth is, if the two new little boys are anything like their siblings… it’s going to be a pretty fantastic time.