Let Kids be Themselves
“Nyet, Mama!” my daughter shouted as I tried to put the long, white dress on her.
My Russian-born daughter already knew at age 3 that she was not the girlie-girl type and definitely didn’t want to wear the dress, nor the white hat with flowers. I, on the other hand, had this idea in my head of what a child portrait should look like so I went out and bought this beautiful dress and matching hat.
My vision didn’t match who she was but I moved forward with it anyway. I dragged her down to the mall to have her photographed at this new studio with the cool backgrounds. I got my photos but I was NOT happy in the end, because SHE was not happy. She didn’t smile at all. Not once – no matter how much I pleaded and begged. I had coerced her into this situation and didn’t allow her to be herself.
Weeks later as I looked at the photos, I felt dissatisfied. It was a pretty set, pretty dress, pretty girl BUT there wasn’t any life or energy to it. It felt soulless and empty to me. Needless to say, I didn’t keep those photos displayed for very long.
Now a decade later, I’ve learned that, as much as possible, you’ve gotta let kids be themselves when taking their pictures. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t suggest outfits to wear or ask them to look at the camera and smile once in awhile. But things will work out better if you allow them to have some say so and allow them to just be themselves as much as possible.
Instead choose clothing for your children that reflects who they are, and allows them to feel like themselves. You will appreciate this even more, years from now, when you look back at those photos and see the cherished outfits that your child loved so much.
I photographed this spunky girl recently during a family photo session, and the overalls really seemed to fit her personality. I doubt her mom bought them especially for our photo shoot. She looks cute and comfortable and her outfit seems to reflect who she is. The jeans look worn and I can imagine her wearing them often.
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