Monday, March 1, 2010

6 3/4

From time to time, over the last two years of shooting, clients will say to me, "Well, he'll be 5 next year, so this will probably be the last time we photograph him for awhile." And, if I'm being perfectly honest, dear reader, I've never really understood that. Yes, I get that most 4 and 5 year olds go on to school. And I get that at school they get those fancy schmancy school pictures taken (hopefully you can read the sarcasm in that line). I get that in the first year of life a baby changes so very much. And I get that at 12, 18 and 24 months they are short and chubby and discovering things like grass, and pussy willows, and can still flash you that precious slobbery grin. They are adorable and innocent and some of my favorite subjects.
And I get that at 5 . . . 7 . . . 9 . . . our sweet babies might go through a bit of an awkward stage. And that it's harder to get those "spontaneous smiles" with our older children. But my goodness, I just don't get why we don't want to remember them at this age. When those long skinny legs, that once held 6 fabulous rolls per thigh, are longer than the rest of their body. When a shy smile tells us that the Tooth Fairy has recently visited and left behind a stack of sugar free gum and $5. When the 7 year old has a bit more say in what she wants to wear to the photo shoot and compromises by wearing her favorite glittery sneakers with Mom's choice of dress.
I get that it's harder to photograph the "older younger" set. At this age, they can fake a smile. That horrific cheesey smile that WE created by telling them to smile when they were babies . . . So you have less spontaneous moments to capture and have to sometimes work really hard to create them. But when you do, the payoff is outstanding.
Mother Nature sabotaged my work schedule this past weekend, so I had both days off. And my only subject was a 6 "and 3/4" boy who was my very first muse . . . and continues to be. Yes, it's harder to catch those real smiles than it is those fancy schmancy class pic ones, but he'll still flash them. And at this moment in time, when he's literally teetering between snips & snails and skateboards & comic books . . . I want to remember him now. How his nose, that was once a button, is now beginning to look like his grandfather's. How the color of his eyes, once blue, then green are now a golden hazel. How, at six, it's important to him that you know he's 6 3/4. How those ridiculously skinny legs of his, that once helped him crawl down the hall and into my arms are now climbing him up the tallest of trees and enabling him to perform canon balls off the top bunk and into a sea of couch cushions.
Our babies are only babies for a short while. I get that. But our children grow up so much faster than we realize. And the seven year old who is helping Mom make his own lunch at the island today will be pushing a tray down the cafeteria line and worrying about SAT's tomorrow.
No matter the age of our children, as their ridiculously proud parents, it's our duty to preserve the moments that make up their childhood. For it passes much too quickly.
A very humble thank you for allowing me to preserve your little ones'.

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