An Annual Client Christmas Shoot-2010 / I WIN!(Again!)

Every working professional photographer is bound to have them.  Those photo shoots that are just a little more challenging then others.  I have to say, I’ve been pretty blessed, because more times than not, I walk away from the end of a shoot thinking, “Cake.”   But I have had the occasional high school senior boy, who is ‘so not down’ with having his photos taken > but his mom is making him.  They can be a challenge at first, but I have always been able to work that age.  Shortly into those shoots,  they realize hanging with me is not all that bad after all, (because I’m cool after all).  They find they are relaxed, laughing, and actually having a good time. They forget they had planned to hold onto that difficult attitude, through it all.   Or there is the baby who didn’t take their usual nap that day, and isn’t feeling happy, or co-operative.  Like most babies, I go into it knowing they will need time, comforting, and patience.  (I have had 4 of my own, and 3 at once.  I’ve had a little practice there.)

So yes, it happens, where sometimes, I need to give a little more of myself, to make a successful shoot, out of a rough start.  In the end, we’re all very happy with the results.

Now, every year, I have this one particular client who hires me to have a Christmas photo shoot of her 2 little girls.  I design their family Christmas cards, which is important to her, and she also places a healthy print order. (Well anyway, I require my clients to have placed a minimum order, before they qualify for card designing.)   I truly love this client, and I love her girls.   I have posted about all of their previous shoots, in this section of the blog, before.  After 4 years of working together, it seems we have established a firm procedure:





The little one, Little A, sucks the life right out of me for awhile, we finally get down to some quick and serious happy business, and in the end, it is one of my absolute favorite shoots of the year!!   Every year.

The oldest girl, Big A, is a dream.  She is unbelievably polite, sweet, charming, co-operative, and a-ma-zing-ly patient with her little sister.  I also know she is also extremely smart, because I can see the wheels turning in her head, behind her eyes, when I talk to her.  She is so well-spoken.  She is beyond her years, I think.  A little beauty, with manners I can really appreciate.

Her little sister, on the other hand, (in the background) is a challenge and a 1/2. I love her too!  Honestly, I do! But even at home, she rules the roost, so to speak.  I also love working with the girl’s mother, because she makes no bones about our annual situation.  She understands my position.  I think every year, our little one becomes just a tad more difficult.  Notice, she is not wearing any tights or shoes?  She refused to keep them on, and it was cold out.  Freezing.  The mom  allows me to use these struggles we have, with humor.  (As you’ll see.)  She also buys prints, of our most difficult moments, with her Little A, because she knows someday, they are going to be so treasured.  Real memories to share!

The difficulty can go on, for who knows how long.  But I never give up, because 1) I am committed to making my client happy, 2) I want that order, and 3) this particular shoot, is always a seriously beautiful ending.  Hard to believe, but true, nonetheless.   It’s like giving birth.  No matter how difficult the labor, you forget the pain, once you hold that baby in your arms.

(Ok, I have to admit, I have never forgotten the pain of my own labors with my children.  I can go back there in my mind, in an instant, still.  Maybe, because I refuse pain meds when in labor, so my head is all there.  But, I’ve heard many other mothers say the pain of labor is quickly forgotten.   I can certainly agree that it is worth every bit of the pain, in the end.  The same is true when doing this shoot every year.

Oh, it does tend to go from bad, to worse….



It was during this moment, as she screamed bloody murder, and I hadn’t gotten a happy shot of her yet, that my infamous words came out:

“Come, Lord Jesus.”

These are the words I say, when I need some savin’, because I am about to lose. my. mind.

For the first time in 4 years, I was concerned I was really not going to be able to work it out this time.  That the whole shoot was going to be a complete bust.  It had been 45 minutes of absolute refusal from my sweet girl here, and we were losing time and light, fast now.

But Jesus came, and saved me, as I called.  Something absolutely magical happened……

Our town of Plymouth has a power plant, and every now and then, the sirens go off over loud speakers, throughout the whole town.  A really high pitched, constant, annoying sound, that suddenly sounded much like a famous reindeer we all know!  ; )  Oh yes….I went there:

I let out a big <GASP>, and with that, said, “OH NO, Little A!  Listen!!  Rudolph is coming!!  He is wicked upset that we can’t get these pretty photos of you, for your Christmas card!  What are we going to do?”

If you could have only seen the look of surprise on her face, and the stammering of panic.  She got herself together so quick, wiped those tears, turned her whole attitude around, and gave me every bit of that star quality, with a smile, that I work so hard to get out, every year:

Of course by now, the sun was blasting on my spot. But I was going to take what I could get, and quickly, at this point!

We moved on to the next little spot…..

She was freezing, and a little tentative once again, but workable….

In between their beautiful smiles, was Little A’s leariness of her sister, behind her.  She has a real serious aversion to her older sister. Hey, we all know they will be best friends some day, most likely.  It’ll be a beautiful thing!  But right now?  Little A can feel the compression of air, on her shoulder blade, if her sister leaned in to close to her, and she would scream her pretty little  head off!

So this is where, I show multiple similar shots!!  My camera was going off like a bee-bee gun, because I didn’t know how long this was going to last!  And it was getting darker, rapidly.  I was bumming a little, because I did have another spot or 2, that I wanted to shoot at with the girls, prior to this one.  But I knew we had lost serious time, so I had to prioritize.

I got them smiling and giggling with my antics and non-sense talk. (Really…there isn’t much I won’t do, if I need to.  I’m in full fool-mode, sometimes.)

But I can’t take all the credit.  My oldest daughter {A}, who is often my very helpful assistant, was right behind me, and really got them laughing.   As similar as these photos seem, I just love the progression of their expressions….

I am beyond happy at this point, and the mom is relieved!!  You know what is so comforting?  The mom always says every year, “If you can get ONE good one, I’ll be happy!”  Well…..I know I can do better than that!!

My heart is full of joy at this point, and I just know, these photos are going to be beautiful – because they are!!  Look at them!!

Check out Little A’s tongue sticking out!  She does that all of the time, when she is laughing, and I love it!

Here’s a question for you……..Have you had any idea where we might be doing this on-location Christmas shoot?  Any guesses at all?  Yes?  No?  Maybe?

Well here’s the answer:





Yes, the cemetery.  I scouted high and low, for a new creative place to work with this family this year.  If you’ve read the past posts with this family, I have full creative license, and I love that!  So, I always want to keep it fresh and new every year.   I admit, I was a little nervous to tell the mom on the phone: “I did find a great location I want to use.  It is going to sound crazy but, you know….I see ahead of time in my head, how I am going to work it. I’d like to do your Christmas shoot… the …..cemetery.”   <Mom laughs.>   And then she says, ‘That does sound crazy!  But I trust you!  I trust you!!  Every year, no matter what, it is all beautiful in the end.  You always work a miracle, and that’s why I keep coming back to you!’

Boy was I relieved, because I had nothing else to suggest by then!

And now, is their resulting 5×7 folding Christmas card.  Imagine…it was printed on pearl paper, with a glossy finish. I SO wish, I could put one in your hand right now, because they were DIVINE!  The color, the depth, and the shimmer beneath that glossy coat.  They just look flat here, compared to the real thing. But….still lovely….


OPENED: THE INSIDE SPREAD.  (Their name blurred for privacy.)

And the back, I always have fun with…..




The mom LOVED the back!!  As always.  She said it was CLASSIC!  That’s what I mean…..she is so great to work with.  Her girls have grown on me from the very first shoot with them, and it has been beautiful  to watch them grow.  I know Little A will get easier in time.  I’m willing to bet, that extra spunk and spirit, will take her places in life.  If all else fails, she always has those adorable dimples to fall back on!  Her big sister has a bright future too.  No doubt about it.

Until next year!!

(I’ll be sharing more sessions, soon, if you are enjoying these?  But I’d like to share some of Michael’s lettering work too, first. )

*  I hope you enjoyed a peek into this photo shoot!

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  1. 6
    Michelle says:

    I LOVE this post LLR! Hilarious and the photos came out amazing as always! LOVE, love, love the card too! The back really is CLASSIC!


  2. 5
    tisha says:

    Oh this session is so fun!! Love how their personalities came out in the shots! 🙂

  3. 4
    SusanV says:

    First time visitor to your blog, and I have to say that your photos are gorgeous. I take photos of food, and thinking about working with children makes me appreciate working with food! I have a 13-year-old who is in that “don’t take pictures of me” stage, and I really wish you were in my area to work your magic on her. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 3
    Shelli says:

    I always look forward to seeing what you do with the card and had started wondering if you were going to post it. Very creative! You continue to amaze me with your ideas.

  5. 2
    Rene says:

    And I love the end result of this shoot, would love to see more of course. xoxo

  6. 1
    Paula says:

    Speechless. Completely.

    • 1.1
      Laura says:

      By the looks of the comments Paula, you’re not the only one! lol ; )
      ((Thank you. Really.))

      • Rene says:

        They are such beautiful girls! This makes me recall that first shoot with Noah, when he was 2, in my backyard….and how difficult he was being! But, with your patience and keen eye, you captured the winning shot between the trees!

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