Sunday, June 20, 2010

Evolution of a Father's Day gift

One of the photography boards I participate in tends to have these bandwagon projects that everyone joins in on.  Back in February, it was Valentine's Day photos, with little kids holding giant heart-shaped lollipops and/or surrounded by heart confetti.  In April, it was Easter photos, with little kids in Easter finery and perhaps holding plastic Easter eggs or wearing bunny ears.  Lots of ridiculously adorable photos -- and it's a fun way of practicing getting posed shots with good composition and focus, which is a lot harder than you'd think, especially with little kids!

Until recently, Joshua has been a bit too young for us to join in on these photography projects.  But lately, he's been able to sit up with some support, and he's been showing a lot of interest in grabbing at toys and bringing them to his mouth, so I thought he might be old enough to try our hand at this month's bandwagon -- Father's Day photos, complete with white wooden letters spelling out "DAD."

I had this beautiful vision in my head of my little Joshua, sitting placidly in a lush patch of green grass, playing with and perhaps nomming on the white letters.  These were going to be gorgeous photos with vivid colors and a smiling baby eager to join in on honoring his daddy and creating a memorable gift for David's first Father's Day.  What could go wrong?

I learned three important things in my first attempt to take these photos:
  1. Joshua really dislikes grass.
  2. Joshua really dislikes sunshine in his face.
  3. And I'm pretty sure Joshua really dislikes white wooden letters.
What I hadn't counted on was the fact that Joshua had never actually played outside before.  He had never experienced grass in his young life, and I'm pretty sure he was NOT a fan of the textures (stiff, prickly, damp).  We also try to shield him from too much direct sunlight, given the sensitivity of his baby skin and the conflicting studies on the use of sunscreen on infants, so he definitely wasn't used to having to look up at a bright sky.  Here's what happened the first time I tried to position him for this project:

I'd found such a beautifully lush patch of grass, and his Princeton orange polo shirt provided such a nice contrast.  But wow, was he not happy about lying down in grass, or about having to squint in the brightness (despite the fact that we were in a nice bit of open shade).  And about 30 seconds letter, the meltdown began.

Desperate to try to salvage the situation (the beautiful weather!  the vivid colors!  my vision of a wonderful Father's Day present!), I tried a couple other options outdoors.  But this is the best I could manage:

"I know that evil grass is right under this blanket.  You can't fool me!!"

"The sun!  It burns!!!"

So I had to pack it all up and bring it back inside.  Seeing our IKEA Poang chair in the living room, and remembering how well it had worked for Joshua's 4-month photos, I decided to give it another try indoors.  Sure, I'd lose the beautiful colors of my original vision, but that was clearly a big fat fail, so perhaps I could recapture the smiles and cute facial expressions we'd gotten a few weeks earlier?

"I know I'm back in my happy place, but it's gonna take a whole lot more than my chair to make me forget the evil outdoors."

I'd forgotten that the reason why we'd gotten such great smiles in the 4-month photos was because Joshua was looking up adoringly at his dad, his favorite playmate in the entire world.  With just me there, and with my face blocked by my big black box of a camera (and without a real chance to recover from the traumatic outdoor experience), I had to just give up for the day.

I tried one more time the next day.  While David was at home.  Most of the women on the photography board were doing this project as a sweet surprise present for their husbands.  Me?  I can't keep a secret from David to save my life.  :)  So it's not like I was ruining the surprise by enlisting his help -- but I had hoped to do this all by myself so that the end result would still be a bit of a surprise...

At the end of the day, though, these photos show how much Joshua loves his daddy.  With David there to attract his attention and bring forth the smiles, we got some really wonderful photos.  So even though none of it really worked out the way I had planned, I think the end result is a much sweeter Father's Day gift.

Happy Father's Day to all of you wonderful dads out there!


Holly said...

Too funny and too cute!

Amy F.W. said...

Awesome story...I just giggled. I didn't realize you had to enlist DAD to help with the DAD photos, haha! But, yes, a testament to his love for his daddy, for sure!

MrsXoxo1598 said...

Awww! I love the final results and lol that you asked dad to help (I almost came to that myself but luckily had a friend help me on my third attempt). Loved reading about your & joshua's adventures.