Um, okay, so let's, just chat a little bit about relationship dynamics. I actually, I'm going to show you, uh, just do a quick run through of one thing I want you to keep in mind when photographing children together. Um, and then I want to tell a little bit of a story I've told the story once before and I had a great follow up question for it. So I thought I'd be really interesting to tell the story again with the question in mind up front to make the story have more impact. So, uh, relationship dynamics, um, one of the things I noticed, uh, and not teaching this here, but obviously on the first course ever taught here, which was the children's photography course could separate children photography I spoke to reading children, getting a getting a really good idea of their personalities very quickly and how you can read them to be able to photograph them better. And if you heard yesterday we were joking about how way had our our little spirited child did. You guys hear that? I saw that ...
a lot of twitter oh, the spirited child. We've got to see her, the spirited child, what are little blonde girl was alexis. Was, um you know, her mom and I first met her it was a photographer and she said yep this is my spirit a child and I think I have one of those the read on that is that the sensitive it's a very sensitive child just mohr you know more easily frustrated also more intense, more ready to do the next thing there's a lot of beauty with a spirited child but there's also challenges that come along with photographing the spirited child s o one thing I recognize is that when I started photographing families mohr and siblings more often I sort of recognizing that there's a way to read those diagne dynamics just like you can read individuals when you're photographing reading the individual children and um any time you have a family you have a siri's of dynamics going on you have how little sister relates to big sister you have have little brother it relates to big brother how the two big brothers and sisters way to chuck I mean you've got like a web of dynamic it's going on. I think that's why we have family based soap operas but I want to read a little bit about each of you from a simple perspective each of the three things that come up almost all the time on shoots uh which is simply has to do with something very basic, like birth order um do you guys know the the ideas about birth order the oldest child is this the middle child's this the youngest child is this no ok eso I remember growing up in hearing about like a middle child syndrome on the middle track middle child syndrome was explained to me what you know how the middle child feels left out you know they're not the the oldest child who's responsible and the achiever and they're not the youngest child who's the peacemaker the fun one you know, in the in the middle child is just kind of left out there alone to be sad burn away so this this is I always kind of thought that was a little bit of a wives tale in terms of that when I started doing a lot of research for envisioning family my book I really dug into it and I was fascinated at how much this held up to be true and how studies that have done really in depth full large large groups of people over many years found this to be true again and again and again and it's not that the way you're brought into family and birth water by the way isn't necessary away you're born into a family as I mentioned two of my children are adopted it's also where you land in a family and what your relationship is to those around you um but what happens is that you end up having an extraordinarily different relationship to your parents as your sibling simply because of when you came in it really is pretty impactful and s o the oldest child which is initially the only child is the one who has the most time to bond and connect with their parents they're the ones who are given all the rules understand that there's a set of responsibilities required of them they're the ones who have to be in charge of the siblings when they come along they're the ones that when you say to them you know better than this that they technically got a lot more time to know what better meant as the next child. So the oldest child of course, also is the one that was the only child and had that whole relationship dynamic um the older child is is shown to have a lot more pressure to succeed on them over time and often does so if you look at all these fine family dynamics, the older child ah lot of times is the one who's in the board room of the ceo the head of this the one who runs this um and if they're not, they have a lot of psychologist psychological pressure on them that says that they haven't succeeded yet and that adds its own kind of sets of problems in terms of relationship dynamics the middle child which is the one that comes next um naturally there tends to be some resentment of the older child towards the middle child because now the attention that they used to be all theirs is freakin shared now does not fair um and interestingly enough there's that that the middle child for a lot of and for the sake of ease of simplicity I'm just gonna assume there's three children a family this dynamic plays out whether there's four children or five children too, but the middle child doesn't have nearly as much pressure on them to succeed academically to be as responsible there's a lot of things that change a little bit for the middle child and and so what happens is they feel like they're not getting as much attention. Middle child hello noticed me I'm still here they jump forward and they're called often in psychological studies the term is the lost child is the middle child it's the one who kind of gets left out of having this dynamic um that with the parents the most the youngest child or the baby is often granted the most lenient of childhoods. This is the one where the pacifier drops to the floor and they just wipe it on your fine the other two made it you'll make it this is the one when they broke break the rules the parents are a little worn down there like right director rolls fine just we have fine watch tv, I don't care where is the first one? Did you broke the rules? Let's sit down and talk about exactly how it this means they have a totally different childhood in a totally different relationship with their parents, then the first child did the third child or the last child tends to be either the class clown, the one who, you know, gets the laughs and everything or the peacemaker, the one that just says let's, let's all get along. Stephen colbert of the colbert report was the eleventh of eleven children and fitz that dynamic very well. So, um, this child also tends to be either the most protected or the most spoiled and there's an element that comes from that as well. So when I'm on an actual shoot and I'm having a moment where I'm photographing the youngest, jumping around and playing or something, I know that maybe the younger sisters loving the attention, but I also know how the older child feels like, and I understand that, so what I'll do is I'll pull her away and say let's, just do some beautiful ones of just you, and I'll give her that attention because she knows that what she's supposed to do on a shoot is hold her tongue and not show her frustration, especially as they get older, they become more responsible and feel this more of awareness of this on because I know that when I'm in a session, if I give this little pressure valve, this little release of pressure and I pull her aside and give her that attention, the whole shoot goes better for everybody. Um, let me tell you where these relationship dynamics come into play for salvaging a shoot. I, like I said, I told this story once before and somebody commented, like, why did you care so much about why did you put so much attention on the one kid when you had the three kids? Um, one of the things that comes into play, every shoot you d'oh that has more than one person in it is a phenomenon iowa refer to as emotional contagion. Do you know what that means? That emotions are contagious? That mood carries that if you're a grumpy, frustrated mood, it's really hard to get anybody else happy now, especially if they care about how you feel so one person can severely impact the rest of the shoot big time. So, um, I had this session where, uh, we were out in bald head island. Um, which is an island off the coast of north carolina and this family came over by ferry in the morning for the session they're just coming over to do the session and they were gonna ferry back when they showed up they came off the ferry it was early morning seven thirty or something they came off and they had three children and they're carrying outfit changes and like, you know, treats and snacks and full he's carrying a bunch of stuff and he comes off looking like this like, this is how he walks into our shoot how's it all right, we got we got this is our oldest child I'd photographed him when he was a little tot and then again when he was a little bit older I hadn't seen in a couple of years and he was irritable he was irritated by the sun by the wind by the sand by the noise of his siblings talking we got out onto the beach and he was not shaking off the mood. It was not changing do you guys ever have this experience? Have you had this shoot? He was actually becoming maura annoyed by everything that was occurring because it was now a lot of commotion on top of his irritated mood and clearly what I sensed is he was feeling mohr unheard as as like I am feeling all this and everything still happening anyway nobody cares and then trying trying some of the techniques of being kind of just fun and trying to loosen him up. It wasn't working. So what? I found that as we're going through the shoot for about forty five minutes into the shoot, the mood was rubbing off everywhere, there's a younger, a little sibling. And then there was the middle child his his s o is basically three children. He was older one. There was a little girl in the middle, and then this was the baby. Um and that contagious effect started spreading. And the mom and dad who both were of the mindset we've had the talk initially about how we were all going to be up and everyone's fine and no rules were broken. They were letting it go, but forty five minutes in, they were like, you know what? This is not a cheap experience. We went to a lot of trouble. We took a friggin boat here, you know, and it started getting to everybody and they were so cool and so friendly about it, but you could just again that strain look coming around like I'm still doing that face. Um, so what we did is, um, I took stock of the fact that I felt like everything around us was just too much coming at him so we went into we went off the beach we went in the little golf carts that's only way you could get around the island and then we went into a kind of enclosure that was blocked off from sun from stand it was a little bit shaded uh it was this sort of area and I said let me just take a few minutes with just him if you can play with the other kids out here I'm just gonna go in here and just have a little chat with him um and so a I took him away from the offending elements that is big remove them from the scene that's bugging them if you're in a studio shooting everything's loud and they're never coming around say can we go for a little walk? We just take a minute this is one of the major upsides toe having time to do a shoot children require time um so I said to him, I just I want to hear what's going on with you and he didn't talk was grumbling this in that he was just saying, you know, uh that dad and I said, okay, all I want to hear is one of the five most terrible things happening right now just the five most terrible things because I got a sunny and it's standing and you know, there's that and I'm hungry and I didn't get my muffin and so we start talking and literally I'm just saying, I just want to hear what he's talking about and I said, what do you mean the muffin is it was my vacation too. I don't want take pictures or come here's my vacation, too. And then he starts opening up in his grumbling is talking, um, and then he started saying how when he woke up, he was cold. It was really cold how he woke up on dh, what tumbles out is this whole story about how they stayed with a friend and he had to sleep on the couch and because he was the oldest, he had to sleep in this one area. I barely had a blanket on him, you know? And I know what kids are like. He probably really like it, but it wasn't a fair, like it's always like this threadbare piece of cloth. Um, and then they had to hurry up the ferry, and it was his vacation, tio and he had to carry everything. His sister never carries anything. He always has to do it. And then there's only going to the cranberry muffins. Anyone of the cranberry muffin. But they both went to his sister's, of course. And you could just tell us like all this bubbling up this responsibility why, you know, I'm I was like seven or eight like why why do I have to do all this all the time? Why is expected that I have to carry it they both got to be carried they get to be carried on and on because I was late but he had to walk um and you know, it just go on and on and on and the cranberry muffin was huge it was a really big deal and when he started basically talking I understood that he felt like it was just too much pressure on him and I started just saying you are so right that is so unfair, you know? And I just all I did was repeat back to what he was saying in affirming way like you're right that's not right that you got mistreated you were wronged on dh slowly he started lightening up it's literally just taking off the frustrations and the anger and started lightning. We started lightning and he still wasn't looking at me but we were getting closer um and then I and then we started joking and it was it was just it's like putting down all that stuff you're supposed to carry and if you feel like that's just you this happens and kids at age five aged six and they don't understand it yet and as he started lighting up more and more, that emotional contagiousness thing, everybody around him started feeling like, oh, we're good now. Things were good. We're happy we could. We could go back, teo, having good time, because they were starting a slump, too, um, and then understanding that everybody has an effect on everybody when it comes to relationships. So if you see one child kind of being the problem, child, try to figure out where they are in the family, how this dynamic might fit in, because it happens so often, pull them aside, and then you salvage the whole shoot and that's it that's my story.