Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Peek-a-boo, I see you

Posted July 18, 2010

One recent early summer morning, we gathered on my father's deck in New Jersey for a family photo. We wore the requisite white shirts and tan pants or skirts in order to minimize distractions and create the perfect family keepsake.

Gathering nine people for a photo is no easy task when they are traveling from three different states. But the biggest challenge was yet to come: my 21-month-old nephew. Blue-eyed with a head full of blond curls and a mischievous smile, his boundless energy and curiosity could not be tamed by a camera lens. As I looked at my girls - now seven and ten - I flashed back to many difficult photo sessions over the years that reduced us all to tears.

On this day, my nephew was immediately attracted to a large purple brush that I had just used on my girls' hair. As the photographer snapped away, my nephew struggled furiously in my sister's arms and reached in the direction of the brush.

His desperate attempts were punctuated by a series of grunts and cries. Finally, my sister let him walk around for a moment, and he honed in on the yellow spray nozzle on the garden hose. Neither seemed appropriate for the photo, and were sure to stand out amidst our monochromatic outfits. We settled on a little stuffed dog named Douglas.

The photographer alternately threw the dog up in the air and let my nephew throw the dog back at him. In the exact moment when the dog was airborne, the photographer snapped away, hoping to catch the fleeting second when my nephew was smiling at the stuffed animal just before his visible disappointment as it hit the ground. Finally, after nearly an hour of this, the photographer pronounced that he was sure he had gotten something.

When it came time to break out and do individual family photos, my sister and brother-in-law smiled tensely and held him on their laps as the rest of us jumped up and down like monkeys behind the camera trying to make the little guy laugh. Finally, we started to play "peek-a-boo" with him. He covered his eyes, and then opened his arms wide, flashing a beautiful smile. It was a technique that worked over and over again, until the photographer was sure he had gotten a great shot.

After all our wrangling, it was the simplest of traditional childhood games that brought joy to his face, not to mention peace to his parents.

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood." Find her here every Monday.


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  • See Chart Jul 21, 2010

    Don't think this blog subject is about hair design
    it's about making photo's of kids .
    But like a Rorschach test people read into anything they wish to see.

  • See Chart Jul 21, 2010

    No worry there,as I remembered photographing in the 1960's
    Professional children i.e. models for fashion magazines in New
    York City ,many times we had four or five children on the set and
    usually one would not wish to work err smile that day.

    Our armament of tools to distract them from crying when they should be loving their assigned outfits included water guns where
    photographer and stylist would squirt each other as clowns in
    the circus,trumpets, toy favors of the kind found at birthday
    parties,hand puppets etc & etc. Needless to say our game playing these kids at their outrages model fee then of $60 an hourwould usually work however sometimes zero attempts at a smile was the norm and we used a back up kid that was bought in for just that purpose.

    We learned the meaning of I dont wannah smile for nuttin.

  • LMRA Jul 19, 2010

    OH Amanda! I can totally relate! I have MANY family shots with atleast ONE of my 5 nieces/nephew crying, reaching for something, squirming, crawling away, face covered, etc. Now that they are all between 11 and 21 years old, we laugh when we look at the pictures. NONE of them are camera shy now! Your photo shoot will never be forgotten! AND you have some ammunition for when your nephew gets older!