“Fine. But I’m not going to smile.” - Lifestyle Family Photography in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati

These were the words out of the youngest boy’s mouth before we started our session.

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He'd lost the battle. He had no choice but to join his family for the pictures he wanted nothing to do with, but he made sure we knew: it would be on his terms. No smiling. Okay.

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Maybe he was worried it would be cold (it was).

Maybe he was mad that we were interrupting his game (we were).

Maybe it was just because he wanted some control (who doesn’t?).

Maybe he thought it would be boring. 

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But it wasn’t. Instead of posing, we played. Instead of “hold that,” I said, “hold him.” Instead of commanding, I conversed. He told me his stories, his favorite games, his Boy Scout achievements, and the embarrassing things his brothers did that made him laugh. I made sure he knew when I was impressed, I asked questions, I taught him new games, I laughed with him. And once the sun set over a round of red light green light and the last of the pale light was exhausted in piggy piles, and butterfly kisses, and Together, we never heard another word about it.

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And would you believe it? He even smiled.

Maybe all he really needed was for someone to give him the space to be himself (I did).

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Jillian Stashak