Saturday, October 26, 2013

Why posed pictures are hard

This year, I signed up Soren for school pictures. And it didn't happen. I mean, not at all. His teachers were apologetic, explaining that he just couldn't handle the chaos, but honestly I was a bit relieved. I don't want to see such a picture.

My boy is beautiful, and there is nothing like capturing his smile, which crinkles his eyes up and puffs out his still-pinchable cheeks. I treasure photos of him, as you can tell from my posts on this blog. But forcing a photo of him at a certain time is difficult for both of us, on many levels.

  • A scripted photo insists on activities that are concocted and unnatural: posing, sitting still, forced eye contact (artificial eye contact with a camera, no less). All these things are hard for Soren.
  • A posed photo is difficult for me. Picture me manhandling my very large six-year-old's bottom in place among others on a couch, maybe even holding him down out of view of the camera, hoping he'll stay for five seconds. This is a dance that's awkward and hard and a contrast with the ease with which the other kids can handle a photo session without parental supervision (or force).
  • The resulting photo is often painful to see. It's an inaccurate snapshot of who my child is (normally tuned in to most people, especially cherished adults in his life). The posed photo shows him looking different, distant, set-apart. This is a tangible reminder of his difference. It's a relic that will live on, too. This isn't who he is. This is only who he is in pictures. 

I understand others' desire and expectation to have family/peer/school photos of Soren. I wish it would be feasible and easy to get them. But these shots don't show my child. They show his challenge, not his strength. Candid photos we have show so much more.

We've tolerated family pictures so far. I'm brainstorming ways to capture my kid in more natural ways even during times that we typically have group photos, like holidays and birthdays. I don't think I'll do individual school portraits any more, though. It's just not worth it.

I won't show the examples of the posed pictures we do have, for the above reasons. But here's why candids and spontaneous shots make so much sense for Soren. Can't you just sense who my child is in the following shots? These are keepers.


  1. We can try to catch those moments when Soren really zeros in on one of the kids. I've seen it before, and those are such fun moments.

  2. I love the one of Soren lying on the log.



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