How a 2-year old boy kicked my butt.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by fractal, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Well, yesterday a 2 year old boy kicked my ****. My wife got me this photo shoot for her friend's 2 year old. I had no idea what I was getting into.

    I spoke with them about what they were looking for (outside portraits for framing and for Birthday party invites) and they had a few props in mind. I also had a few props of my own and I brought them along with my camera, 4 lenses, tripod, a homemade lighting system and a reflector.

    They have a nice backyard that bumps up against a small creek, then a wooded hill. I scouted the area and found a neat ivy covered stone retaining wall; also a swinging bench, plenty of trees, wooden steps and lots of grass. Endless possibilities I thought and i wrote down about 7 or 8 shots I imagined I wanted to take along with the lenses for those shots. I coached myself before the shot, reminding myself to "get low and down to the boy's level", visualizing how the lighting would work along with the reflectors - I even mapped that all out. My two year old subject however had plans of his own.

    If you could imagine the scene in Rocky, when Mickey puts Rocky in a yard to try to catch a chicken; that's pretty much how I felt. As a Father of three I quickly realized how much I had forgotten about 2 year old's energy levels. Once the boy was released into the backyard it was no stopping him. Literally - no stopping him. The most he would sit still was for a second or two. Props, lighting setup, tripod - all useless. It became a mad dash - me and my average focusing NEX-7 and 2 year old boy. The viewfinder was also worthless. I more or less had to rely on the back tilted screen and literally "run and gun". Having him look at me directly was nearly impossible - the second I got ahead of him and set up, he would shift directions. I was chasing the boy and the mother was chasing me while pleading for him to look here, stop, smile, etc. The Mickey Mouse sweatshirt I wore was good for maybe 5 seconds of his attention. Heck, I thought photographing sports was tough!

    Many times I felt outgunned. My NEX-7 was little match for this blur of blond hair and blue eyes. I was wishing I had an A6300 or even (God forbid) a DSLR. Eventually I set up a couple of the props the Mom wanted for the invites (big balloon and a sign) and lured him in by having us all stand by them (and the Mother offering candy). It was enough to get off some quality shots. The shoot itself took about an hour and 1/2 and I was exhausted afterwards! I packed my camera and all the other stuff I didn't use and drove off. About 1/2 mile down the road I just stared laughing to myself as I replayed in my mind what had just occurred and how funny it must have looked (several times I found myself laying on the ground with nothing to shoot).

    When I got home and downloaded the files I found the vast majority of them out of focus or not usable ( facial expression, etc.). However, I did find a number of really good shots - I may not have been having fun doing "cutting drills" and "monkey rolls" in their backyard, but the 2 year old had a blast and somehow I managed to capture a decent number of examples. In the end I was able to produce about 15-20 quality shots for the family. The mother called me up afterwards and told me they made her cry (in a good way) and today she's on Facebook proclaiming how profession I was and how great of a photographer I am. For me, that made it worthwhile, despite getting handling by a 2 year old. As they say, the best lessons are the hardest.

    I may share some of the pics later, but there are some sensitivities involved so I'll refrain for now.

    I'm still however chuckling about it. :D 
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  2. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 10, 2015
    Pretty funny story. I have a grandson that age and cannot imagine getting him to sit still for a portrait more than a few seconds, much less outside.

    And now that she has promoted you on Facebook, I hope you will enjoy repeating the experience. :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  3. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    LOL! Great recount of the event. :D 
    A priceless experience that will always be a fun memory.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    The old saying, "Never work with kids and animals." :rolleyes-20:
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  5. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    I can relate! I have a 5 year old and a 2 year old - photographing kids is TOUGH!!!
    Sounds like you handled it very professional and good thing in the end you manage to provide some quality work since the client(s) were happy with the results :thumbsup:
    • Like Like x 1
  6. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    This reminds me of a suggestion I have for an additional measurement by all camera reviewers. There should be a "Preschool Quotient" (PQ) that measures the number of acceptably focused shots vs total exposures from a time-limited photo shoot of preschool age children allowed to move freely in a fun environment. Outdoor lighting is acceptable, but more useful measurements are made in a large room with one bright window and poor interior lighting.

    Fractal, 15-20 quality shots in 90 minutes is outstanding.
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  7. Nexnut

    Nexnut TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Beauuutiful story, Chris! Even though the NEX-7 isn't exactly the weapon of choice for jobs like these I would have grabbed mine without hesitation and would have tried to squeeze the max. out of the situation, most probably with some legacy glass and manual focusing, like usual. Looking forward to seeing some of your shots.
    PS: you would have had a tough time with me as a 2 year old as well - guaranteed :D .
    • Funny Funny x 2
  8. Mus Aziz

    Mus Aziz TalkEmount All-Pro

    Sep 3, 2015
    Well done Chris. 15-20 good shots with a "can't sit still" 2 year old, is outstanding me thinks. :bravo-009:
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  9. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brought back memories of trying to take "portraits" of a boy about that age with my old, slow-focusing K100D DSLR. His parents were producers for a show I was working on at the time (no pressure!). Luckily the mother had no illusions about props and wanted something that captured his . . . "vitality". Goodness the kid must a teenage now.
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  10. Xterra

    Xterra TalkEmount Regular

    Feb 8, 2016
    2 words... Landscapes RULE :) 
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
    • Funny Funny x 2
  11. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    A great story ;)  I hate the spray-&-pray approach but this is one of those situations begging for a high FPS shoot.
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