Photographing Kids: The 4 Phases of Suckage

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 

You can dress them up in adorable coordinating clothing and illuminate them in the most optimum lighting. You can use the fanciest camera money can buy. You can have an arsenal of creative props and the most spectacular location and recall a million cute poses you saw on Pinterest. But when it comes to capturing a group photo of your kids, it’s a total crap-shoot (no pun intended!). There’s a reason pro photographers are so in-demand, and it’s this: trying to get a good picture of a gaggle of kids is about as pointless as man-nipples. Unless you’re a trained professional, photographing kids is mostly just an exercise in frustration, and it typically goes something like this …

Phase One: Optimism. You start out with the best of intentions. They look so cute! Look at those adorable outfits and that freshly-combed hair! This is going to be such a good picture. You’re going to Instagram the crap out of this. Or maybe you’ll get a great new Facebook cover photo. Or both! You call them over and tell them you’d like to take their picture. You artfully arrange everyone, ignoring the fact that they look less than thrilled. You are upbeat, hoping your cheerfulness will rub off on them and they’ll have the happy, glowing faces you envision. They’re holding the pose! Yessss! This is gonna be the BEST PHOTO EVER.

Phase Two: Reality. You prompt them to smile, but then encounter your first problem: one or more of them is making the “picture face.” You know the one – the over-exaggerated smile/grimace hybrid that looks like a deer in the headlights. A constipated deer. You tell them to look more natural. “But not that natural,” you say to the one who takes that as a cue to make his face all droopy. Okay, he finally looks normal. Everything looks good. Let’s do this!

You raise the camera to capture the perfect shot – but wait, it’s out of focus. By the time you push a few buttons on the camera (and utter a few choice words), someone has either a) stood up, b) started fighting, or c) decided to look everywhere but where they’re supposed to be looking. By this time, their composure is crumbling fast. As soon as one is re-posed, another pops up, like a game of Whac-A-Mole.

Phase Three: Desperation. Everybody’s patience is ebbing away – especially yours. Your voice gets that “edge” to it when you say things like …


Scoot in closer. … CLOSER. (most often accompanied by wild waving of one hand)

He is supposed to be touching you.

No, your brother does not stink.

Come on, you guys. Look right here.

Look at me.


Stop making that face.

Stop pinching.

Stop looking so disgusted.

Seriously, just let me get a picture. Please.

We’d have been done hours ago if you’d just stand here and smile like a normal human being and look at the camera for two seconds and can we PLEASE! JUST! GET! A PICTURE!

Phase Four: Defeat. Your visions of that perfect photo have faded, and now you’re just on a mission to capture a shot where everyone’s eyes are on the camera and no one looks like they’re drunk. You’ve abandoned the hope of having them maintain the cute pose, and settle for them all being clumped together closely enough to fit into the frame. Instead of “cheese” they ask if they can say “buttholes,” and you’re too tired to care; at least it makes them smile naturally. You take a million photos in rapid succession in the hopes that one just might be at least kind of decent. You finally tell them you’re finished, because you’re so over it – at which point they scatter to the four winds like dry leaves.

And when you finally scan your weary way through the camera roll, deleting the ones that are blurry or otherwise unacceptable, you realize with dismay that your very best shot ended up looking something like this.

But you put too much effort into getting the photo to delete it. You decide to post it anyway and pretend like you weren’t actually trying to get them to pose – like you didn’t just spend ten minutes failing to arrange them.

You can always caption it, “LOVE capturing these candid photos of the kids!” for good measure.

Related post: A Parody For Every Mother Desperate For The Perfect Picture

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