Walking Away

Let’s be honest. Three-year olds and newly tottering 1-year olds are not the most obedient photographic models. I was reminded of that on a beautiful fall day last weekend as I photographed my sister and her family in my professional guise.

It didn’t take long to realize that my niece and nephew were far more interested in exploring Century Village than in standing still for photographs. While I was able to distract them into motionlessness temporarily here and there by pleading and begging, in the end I ended up with many images of their backsides walking away. That’s not a horrible thing. I am still quite happy with those images and it kept the kids happy, the portrait session moving along, and new possibilities possible. [1]

Photographs with people's faces can create a connection between an image and the viewer (especially photos that have eye contact with the subject and the camera) and by removing that possibility it allows a viewer to take in the scene more readily as a whole. And, certainly with children, images of subjects walking away from the camera can add a sense of innocence and independence. A sense of togetherness as well when the image is of more than one person and there is physical contact like holding hands. Indeed, as my nephew has grown the relationship between him and his big sister has also and it’s been fun to watch.

Not every portrait session works out as planned – in fact many don’t and it’s important to be flexible and inventive. Especially in child portraiture.


  1. Continually pleading and arguing with them to patiently wait for more traditional portraits would have ended in tears and frustration. Theirs and mine.  ↩