Parents covet photographs showing their children together, often choosing a mediocre group image over a set of superior individual shots of each child. I fully understand this going into a session, so my pre-shoot mantra is always, “get it together”, speaking for both arranging the siblings as well as getting my act together as photographer/magician. Sometimes it takes a little supernatural power to pull this stunt off.
You gotta start somewhere, so step one is getting the siblings physically close. You’d think this in itself would be relatively easy, but it almost never is. And it’s risky, because you just never know what this forced close proximity will provoke. So the photographer must act quickly, knowing that a firestorm is liable, even likely, to erupt at any moment.
Step two is somehow conveying connection between siblings. Nothing worse than a portrait of siblings where there is total indifference between them. Even a little animosity is better than indifference, since it at least communicates some sort of feeling. The first image in this set is pretty borderline in this department, but since there wasn’t total disconnection nor out and out repulsion it eked into the proof selection. I kind of liked the randomness of it and the way the big sister was looking at her brother. I shouldn’t have bothered: no sale on this one.
The second image is an example of a very common phenomenon in sibling portraiture. I call it the “let me help you out with your face” syndrome. One sibling decides that brother or sister is unable to handle the job of appearing pleasant for a photograph, so will take it upon themselves to manually arrange some sort of expression for them. I’ve seen this happen countless times over the years, and I’ll often think the resulting images are kind of cute so will include these fun but marginal shots in the proof selection. Not once has a client ever purchased this particular genre of photograph. Note to self: stop showing these images, they don’t sell.
The last image depicts the fraction of second when a forced hug is *just* about to morph into a full on headlock. There’s a hint here of the brewing tension that I’m not particularly pleased with, but since everything that followed was not at all flattering to my beautiful little subjects or to me as photographer, I went ahead and included it in the client’s proof selection. And wouldn’t you know: it sold.