This image is a pretty good example of some of the disturbing and distracting elements that must be dealt with in the course of a typical family shoot. The most problematic matter here being that this is only half the family. Dad is off trying to capture the toddler, who’s fled the scene with a speed and deftness that is truly impressive for one with such short little legs. The baby has not only grown tired of my many failed attempts at a family portrait, but now is just plain tired and ready for a nap, leading to the necessity of the dreaded pacifier. If someone could clue me in on how to make a worthy portrait that includes a pacifier I’d love to hear it, because I can’t for the life of me make it work.
Straps of overalls, collars on babies, big bows on little girls, and logos on just about everything are a few more of the factors that can frustrate the portrait photographer. Throw in the unavoidable natural considerations such as wind, heat, cold, humidity and even rain, and it can feel as if everything is working against ones efforts to make a simple family photo. But as in all of life, we work with what we’ve got and make the best of it. We remove as many of the superfluous items as possible, which often requires that we move in closer than is comfortable. But when we allow our own vulnerability to enter the image, the things we might find unsightly become a little softer and not so threatening.
We are for a moment, pacified.