Be careful what you wish for



So a few weeks ago, I was signing “PLEASE!” like a madwoman before I would give Henry one of the three foods that he will eat (Frozen blueberries, frozen peas and raisins. Malnutrition, I’m talking to YOU!)

I had seen him do it once or twice (small circles on the upper chest), so I knew he had it in him. I withheld his blueberries long enough to get his attention, and finally, in a bored, annoyed, imperious tone that he could only have learned from my 13-year-old self, he gave me the toddler equivalent of an eye roll and said, “PLEEEEEASE!”

Well, now I’ve done it. Because there is no sweet tone to this please. He delivers it ALL THE TIME now with a short, choppy, impatient tone, usually when he wants the butcher knife or the plastic grocery bags or the exposed wires or what have you. PLEASE! He’s getting better at the eye roll, too. Anyone having better luck than me with baby signs?



So today you get kid photos, but these were taken with specific purpose. I’m taking a photography class on photographing children, and really enjoying it. I was lucky to have a wide array of amazing, cooperative subjects to work on while we were in Maine and Vermont, so today I post my homework for Lesson #1, on getting children to make eye contact, look directly at you and laugh. Harder than you would think.

My own children are completely blind to me and any kind of photo trick I can dream up, so I am going to be pounding the pavement looking for subjects over the next seven weeks. If you live near me, PLEASE help me out!

So we had to upload three sets of photos, before and afters:


Lydia, before and after



Jack, before and after (and probably before and after the promise of chocolate)



Caroline, before and after


So there you have it. My critique included notes that my white balance is off (need to learn more about different WB settings) and they are too contrasty, both of which I agree with. Photo folks, any other critiques? I mean it, I LIKE hearing what it wrong with the photos—I know the KIDS are gorgeous. 🙂


And this fits perfectly with today’s Thursday Theme at Picture This, STAR! Aren’t they stars? Oh, and Tracey at Picture This is a star, see the fun ad her family is in over at Picture This!


28 Responses to “Be careful what you wish for”

  1. Bunny Says:

    Love the stars! And great trick, I will have to try that one. I would love to take a class on photgraphing children. I had no idea such things existed! Looks like fun!

  2. Brittany Says:

    They are most certainly stars!

    (Love the Please story… Adam now says “Please. yes?” every time he wants something. sigh. They catch on way too fast!!

  3. megan Says:

    yep, getting my own “stars” to look at my camera & smile is harder than pulling teeth! kudos on yours!

  4. arizaphale Says:

    They’re great! The second one of Jack in particular speaks to me. When you find out about white balance and contrast would you explain them to me too please? I have been very frustrated of late with my photos. I am forever having to use the flash and then I try and manipulate the levels in this piddly photo program I have (don’t own photoshop) to get rid of the harshness and end up with horrid pinky, purply tones…. bah! I think its time to enrol in a course like you. I have the pictures I want in my head, I just don’t know how to get them!! (and don’t even suggest asking my ‘photoshop expert, does this for a living photographer/designer’ husband!!!)
    Re; Mr ‘Please’…hilarious. I can just hear him thinking “Oh alright; I’ll jump through your hoops.”

  5. Michelle Says:

    great photos anna. the first one i think is best. i like the contrast actually. my only critique would be in the last photo it looks a little grainy.

  6. Stacy Says:

    Yes, be careful what you wish for! I can just see the exasberated please and the I roll. 🙂

    So, for the CC…you ready for it?? The biggest thing, is yes, the wb is off. There is a definite blue cast to the bottom two kids. Do you use auto wb? What I usually do is use the wb presets for my camera, and if those don’t give me the right color, I fix it in an adjustment layer in photoshop that I can drag to the other photos I need to fix.

    I am not bothered so much by the contrast (’cause I like it!) but it may be a bit too much for someone that doesn’t dig that. I think they are also a little underexposed, so I would bump up the midtones in levels/curves.

    Have fun with the class! Having willing models is hard to find around here, too. 😉

  7. Stacy Says:

    Don’t mind my spelling errors…I’m still working on my first cup of coffee. 🙂

  8. melody is Slurping Life Says:

    I’m eating up Henry’s attitude in that second shot. 🙂

    Obviously you know how to get the kiddos to smile at you, but I understand what you mean about your own children being “blind” to your camera. And I’m not one to critique technical aspects of photos, I just know what I like and I like yours.

  9. Anna Says:

    Thank you all, very helpful and supportive!
    And thank you, Stacy, I really really really value your critique and thank you for your time.
    I will work hard on WB next week and will post the lesson again! This week–baby/kid parts–feet hands, etc. Can’t wait!

  10. Maggie Says:

    I love ALL the pics…and I hope you got an A on your homework – you deserve it!

    It really depends on what you define as luck with baby signs…Bennett uses them all the time. But he certainly gets irritated if you don’t promptly cater to him! He also knows please, and as soon as you tell him ‘no’ he does please over and over (and over!) again with a great big smile…thinking that then he can get what he wants…

  11. B. Says:

    Nice pics.

  12. Kim Says:

    Very nice. You know what’s funny. I actually like the first photo of Lydia better than the second! Oh, and we’re doing pretty good with baby signs here. Will says eat and more and cookie and all done. Try withholding whatever it is that Henry wants until he gives you a nice please. Model it calmly and if he says it impatiently, say something like, say it nice…please. It might work for you… every kid is different, right? Good luck.

  13. Molly Says:

    Just too cute. That’s all.

  14. carrievoris Says:

    Ooooh – I love that last photo of Caroline. So, so cute! What a great class to be able to take, too! Is it an online one or a college course?

    I like the contrast in the photos, too. And am totally studying them with Stacy’s comments to figure all of it out as well.

    Can’t wait to see next week’s! Baby hands and feet are quite possibly the most divine thing ever…

  15. Erinne Says:

    Wonderful photos. They are all terrific. You are doing a fabulous job!

  16. Christina Says:

    How awesome, a children’s photography class…I would LOVE to do that! Great work getting your little STARS to make eye contact. that second one of Jack is incredible, just love it.

    And LOL at the annoyed, eye-rollin’ please. We’ve got the oppostie going on…Nadia seems to think that if she implores “pleeeease” in a sweet and endearing enough voice, she can have anything she wants. Pshaw! Except it does work with Daddy.

  17. Mandy Says:

    Those are great. I’d love to take a photography class specific to children. You’ll have to share the secrets : ) I love #3, #6 & #8 the best.

  18. Lisa Says:

    Man, I’d love to take a class. I like the composition, and you seem to have your rapport with kids down pat. 🙂 Other than the WB, they’re great. When I have trouble with WB and don’t have enough time to figure it out, I resort to auto. More than half the time, it works fine.

  19. Dawnomite! Says:

    I am no technical expert, so I’m of no use there. I just have to say the the first one of Lydia is incredible. Talk about eye contact. That girl is boring holes into the camera. It’s beautiful.

  20. Jennifer Says:

    Must. Take. A. Photography. Class!

    I had varied success with baby signs. I didn’t worry about manner words, I just focused on wants/needs. Now that my son speaks, I require the pleases and thank yous.

  21. sdh Says:

    Are you familiar with the term Bershon? I believe it was coined by Melissa at suburbanbliss. I think that is what Henry is displaying here at a remarkably early age.
    (scroll down to about bershon).

    Still, he’s really cute even when rolling his eyes.

  22. Sarah Says:

    my boys were singularly unenthused by months of stupid (they thought) Baby Einstein signing videos, but literally seconds after watching Baby Signing Times *once* they were signing up a storm. Two years later, they still sign please (and say it, but anyhoo), and insist on singing “wash wash scrub scrub we use soap and water” when washing hands, just like Rachel in her brilliant song “I Wash My Hands.”

  23. itsallabouthallie Says:

    What a great job! love these pictures!

  24. jen Says:

    what fantastic pictures. simply gorgeous befores and afters.

  25. Mary Says:

    Sometimes it seems like there is more signing than talking going on in our house. When Grant was 1 ½ and we discovered his speech delay we got busy with the entire series of Signin’ Time and it was a tremendous resource – Thank You, Rachel! Now nearly a year and a half later I hardly sign at all and Grant uses it more as a supplement when he lacks confidence in his speech. Scott (19 months old this week) is not talking yet either, even though I think he probably can, but has been signing for five months now. He just picked it up from conversations between Grant and me. I about fell over tonight as he attempted to sign “May I be excused, please” when he wanted to leave the dinner table.

  26. Anna Says:


    You are so right, all about the bershon! And he could have got it from only one place, his mother, the QUEEN of teenage bershon. I NEED a SCANNER! And then I will prove it.

  27. Maya Says:

    I’m just starting the baby signs…fingers crossed they go over well. Right now he looks at me like I’m crazy.

    I think the photos look wonderful. Good for you for taking a class! I’m planing on taking one in the winter but I’m a bit nervous. Hearing your critiques makes me excited for it though!

  28. Food Friday: Delicious Nutritious Apple Cake « Hank & Willie Says:

    […] Henry has been teething for, oh, YEARS, he doesn’t eat much, except for the afore-mentioned frozen peas, frozen blueberries and raisins. He does have his mama’s sweet tooth, though, so we can sometimes convince him to eat food in […]

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