Some kids are not so crazy about being told what to do (um, most kids?), some kids prefer being on my side of the camera, some kids are really shy, and some kids are so camera phobic they get excused from school photo day. Henry is in the latter group, so when his mom contacted me about having family photographs taken, she explained that I would have a challenge to overcome. We spoke at length about her son's reluctance, and ways we would work around it without making him feel like he was being tricked into something. We hatched a plan, we checked in with each other prior to the session, and then I just showed up one morning and photographed the family doing their thing. Because that's what I love to do - let kids call the shots, literally, and capture them being themselves. It is more common that a child have some resistance to the photo session than not. Honestly, when a child just sits down and starts posing I don't know what to do with myself (okay, not true, I snap a few shots and then I try to get them to laugh and be silly).
If you have resisted having your family photographed because you have a reluctant child, know this, I do too. My daughter Frances is four, and for the last two years she has become increasingly camera-shy. Initially I thought it was because I photographed her every move, but as she has grown into herself more, I have come to realize that it is just part of her personality; I see it in other aspects of life as well, it isn't just the camera, for her it is more the attention on her and expectation. So as you can imagine, when I scheduled not one but two photo sessions for our family this year, I was pretty sure at least one would be a bust. My goal was to get photographs of us together, but I really never expected her to face the camera and be her normal goofy self. You should have seen the way she worked it for the photographers - she was over the top Franny. I tell you this because sometimes kids really turn it on for other people, sometimes they do just the opposite of what you would expect (okay, most of the time), and more frequently than sometimes, kids eventually drop their guards and relax into themselves, making for photos that may not be deemed "proper" family portraits, but something bigger and so much better: records of your family as they were for this fleeting moment in time.