My mom is the youngest of six kids who all grew up and had families of their own so you can only imagine how many cousins I have.... A TON and I love it. There was never a dull holiday at my Grandmother's house. Because of this, my cousins are some of my best friends, and even though we've gotten older, have crazy-busy lives and families of our own we continue to make it a priority to be there for each other.
Last week my cousin was hosting her in-laws, who were visiting from out of town, and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally get a family photo of everyone together. Driving the two hours from Los Angeles to Bakersfield I arrived to find the weather had taken a turn for the worst and the kids were all off their nap schedules. Obviously I would be photographing the happiest children ever. (Insert sarcastic voice here)
Thankfully, I could see I had allies in the two older boys, Joe and Aidan. Although they are in that "silly faces" phase they were at least willing to smile for the camera. Stella, who turns 3 in March, is still a little shy and would need some TLC before warming up. Warren, the youngest, was all about observing his older cousins but preferred to stay on the sideline rather than in the action where he could get dirty.
In an ideal photography world I would wrangle everyone together, pose them perfectly, and fire off two or three shots capturing everyone smiling naturally and all looking in my direction at the same time. That however is not the reality. The reality is that I am photographing children. I have found that my client's favorite images are never the forced or posed ones but instead those that portray the wonder, innocence, and pure joy of childhood and reminds them, even if just for a moment, of what it feels like to be a kid again.
Despite nixing our original shoot location for something that was closer to home, just in case the weather got bad, (i.e. a leafy area of their backyard) and working a little bit harder pulling out some of my guaranteed, patented, smile-making moves, I had a fun afternoon photographing our family's new generation of cousins bonding.