A Classic Child’s Portrait

A woman’s first classic portrait should be when she turns four, has left infancy behind and is entering childhood. In the case of Emmie, whose portrait you see here, her first classic portrait took place when she was still three. The fact that she was not quite four made creating the portrait a bit more challenging, since a child who is still three is at a stage of life such that spontaneity rules: standing in one spot, looking in one direction, holding your body in one position do not come readily. I had to make sure everything was one hundred per cent ready to go with the lights, with my camera, with where she would be standing, since I knew that we would only get three or four minutes of shooting before she was “done”. And let me tell you, when a three year old is done, they are done, and there is no getting anything more out of them! Not only did I need to move quickly, but I needed to draw just the right smile out of her . The usual schtick I do with children, with lots of silliness and pratfalls on my part, would draw too big of a smile, I wanted more of a  “Mona Lisa” smile. So I toned down the schtick, until the slightest, half-shy smile came to Emmie’s face. When I captured a series of exposures, and our window of time had passed, I knew we had created that classic child’s portrait, the kind that will stand the test of time and the changing fashions of every era, that Emmie will still be displaying in her old age, as a testimony of who she was in the blush of  childhood.

Tom Launius, CPP