Bumps and Boogers


Braydon’s* mom, Melissa, expressed some reservations about a past portrait session that didn’t go so well. Given her descriptions, it sounded like Braydon had a lot in common with my now-3-year-old, Calamus.*

Calamus had opinions. Calamus did not want to be put down. Calamus did not sleep.

Calamus was (is) a lot of work.

But like Brayden, he was also an energetic baby and a blast to play with. People adored him. He was outgoing and playful and was always the life of the party.

Until Nikolai* (my 1-year-old), was born, I was baffled by parents who described parenting as ‘boring.’

I could not comprehend boredom. I was exhausted.

So, I wasn’t worried about photographing a spirited baby. I know all about spirited kids.

prokop-6No offense to the calm and mild-mannered, but photographing spirited kids is the best

It’s very, very hard to take portraits of spirited kids. They move fast and require a decent amount of gymnastics and some very fast lenses to keep up with.

My favorite images are the ones that I have never seen in another photographer’s portfolio – kids running, twirling, zooming, growling, grinning and rushing the camera. Even the pre-crawlers won’t sit still or insist on being held by mom or dad the entire time.

It’s a challenge, but good portraits of zippy kids are possible. When you finally catch them, those images show them – in all the chaos and beauty of intense personality – there is no mistaking it.

I was looking forward to giving Melissa what I had always hoped for – someone who understands what it’s like to parent a demanding baby.

I wanted to create a story showing her how hard she works, and how much her work matters

Unfortunately, the little guy had a cold. It made the session harder on him that I had hoped, but it’s clear how much he adores his parents, that he was willing to smile and giggle through the drips and sneezes as they snuggled him.

After the session, there were a lot of pictures of Braydon crying, dripping, and generally looking miserable. But I also found that there were over an album’s worth of images where his personality, smiles, goofy faces, and those gorgeous blue eyes shine.

This was a gift from him to his parents. These smiles are the ones that will hang above his crib so his mom can remember how worth it these late nights are.


Are you parenting a spirited kid?

Let’s share the awesome parts and the highlights in the comments. If you’re in the demanding first year of raising a baby (spirited or no, it’s always demanding) and need some tips, comment or click here to contact me any time for emotional support. It’s so helpful to know we’re not alone.

Meanwhile, join the awesomesauce newsletter to get updates when I post guides on how to catch pictures of your own spirited kids.

dashed_line_2pt* All pseudonyms, because these are little kids, and this is the internet.