I gotta say, in my humble opinion, I had a stroke of genius with this one.
You may recognize this cute family as my sister, her husband Josh and my two nephews Noah (9) and Elijah (8). They are notoriously my most difficult portrait clients. As many of you know, Noah and Elijah both have Autism. They are super-precious boys that I adore but getting good photos of them is a challenge. Noah is pretty into it. He's kind of like most kids -- cooperates fairly well but gets tired of the camera quickly. He's usually a trooper but it can be tough to get a natural smile out of him when you're asking for one. Elijah is still non-verbal and pretty much doesn't respond at all to any coaxing or attempts to get his attention when my camera is in hand. He has one heck of a sad face when he's not a happy boy. And the most challenging thing about photographing him is keeping him in one spot for very long. If I'm pointing a camera at him, he's running the other direction. So this equation adds up to failure with any attempt at a traditional family portrait.
Enter the creative aunt who also happens to be a photographer.
When I found out that Natalie got a bike for her birthday and they also picked up a tandem bicycle that Elijah can ride on the back of without pedaling, a light bulb appeared above my head. Elijah loves anything that moves him through space -- shopping carts, cars, bikes, swings, his pop-pop Jack's shoulders -- get the boy moving and he's a happy camper. Also, a family photo shoot on bikes solves my problem of containing Elijah. He'll be moving but at least I can have some say about which direction.
We got the whole family on bikes and just as I suspected, the shoot was our lowest-maintenance yet. Usually Josh and Natalie have the toughest job and are completely exhausted by the end of a session. But Josh ended up being a very happy camper because we were done in 20 minutes and he didn't have to do anything but steer and pedal.
Here are some of my favorite images from our super-quick, creative, low-maintenance, genius bike shoot. I love this shot of Natie. Of course she'll think she's smiling too big but I just think she looks adorable.
Noah is super-cute and had so much fun:
A number of times he would look over at Natalie during the shoot, wave and yell "Hi MOM!!"
I'm amazed at what great shots I got of Elijah. I never once called his name but as you can see in these photos, he pretty much looked at me and smiled each time they passed. He was having the time of his life and I must have just caught his eye as he flew past.
One thing Elijah loves even more than moving through space is being up high. Part-way through the shoot he must of thought, "Now, moving through space AND being up high -- that would be the best combo EVER." He proceeded to climb up Josh's back AS HE WAS PEDALING and sit on his shoulders.
After riding back and forth for 20 minutes in front of my camera we made one quick attempt at a traditional shot and it came out pretty well:
Yay! I'm so glad that I was able to capture the boys at this difficult stage of their lives (photographically speaking) looking so natural, cute and happy!