We staged a photo session this afternoon after church to get some potential photographs for our annual Christmas card photo. After that little experience, I was reminded of something my friend Jennifer once told me about how she had trouble getting good photographs of her son when he was two years old.
Boy, she knew what she was talking about. Two is a tough age for this sort of thing, I've concluded. At two and a half. William is old enough to know that we want to take a picture of him. He knows we want him to pose and smile and be charming for the camera. He knows that we simper and fawn all over him when he beams a big toothy smile for us. But he's still young enough to be a slave to his own lack of impulse control. He's really just not ready to fully comprehend that it's in everyone's best interest, including his own, if he just (pun alert) grins and bears it and gets it over with. (Of course, it's taken my husband, an adult, nearly ten years with me to fully internalize this, but I digress.)
But I always press on in the hopes that we'll get past this. And I'm sure that one day, we will. One day, William will understand that Mommy just needs him to flash his winning smile at the camera and then he'll be free to run off. And he'll comply. But for now...William may be willing to sit down and smile nicely for a few seconds, but then the urge to move takes over him. And right before I click the shutter on the camera, he feels the need to jump up. Or bend over. Or squeal. Or twist and shout. Or shake it up, baby. And then...he gives in to the urge. So when I click the shutter, I end up with a photo of a little blonde blur. Although, to be fair, the blur is often smiling in these photos.
Diane, God love her, powered through the photo session this afternoon, patiently clicking away and taking shot after shot. When William jumped up, she kept smiling at him and beseeching him to look at her and smile, too. And she kept taking pictures, even as I was finally resorting to offering bribes (Spider-Man fruit treats) to my only child to please just sit still for a few more minutes so we could get a nice family picture. Afterward, she reminded me of the advice once given to me by a photo editor I worked with: take lots of pictures, lots and lots and lots of them, and maybe you'll end up with a couple that are usable. That's some of the best parenting advice I've ever received, by the way, although at the time, the advice was supposed to guide me in taking better photos for the newspaper I was working for.
Someone once commented to me that William always seems to be smiling in pictures. When I stopped guffawing, I confided to them that for every good smiley picture I post of him, there are at least 50 other photos of him madly dashing around or grabbing at the camera or opening his mouth in a big exaggerated expression that is funny, yes, but not exactly sweet and charming. No kidding. You should see my photo archives. If I had to use film, I'd be bankrupt. So I'll just continue to be grateful for the digital camera, which allows me to take hundreds of picture so I will have a few good ones at the end of it all.
And I'll still hold out hope that one day, it will be easier to get a non-blurry smiling picture of my son. Maybe when he's three. Or four? Not any longer than that, though, right?