[Caution: scroll carefully, post is a visual spoiler for those of you on the Popeck's Christmas list.]
In the five years that I’ve been shooting family portraits, there are a handful of families I’ve come across who stand out in a unique and creative way. These are the families who deserve some kind of end-of-year award, a recognition of their offspring’s original traits, talents and temperaments. These are the families who come to me from the pool of many who have trusted me to preserve their children young for posterity and leave having imprinted in my mind that just when I thought I’d seen it all, there’s still so much to the world I have yet to experience and explore.
Like baby Paul. The little guy was nine days old and to this day holds a very impressive in-studio record. Justin and Penny, are you out there? Baby Nicholas gave his Daddy a run for Paul’s money, but in the end, Paul prevailed. Oh, the stories a photographer can tell.
Since I’m still knee-deep in family portrait holiday Christmas card rush, and a little distracted lately, I’m going to table the very good and deserving idea of end-of-year awards until January. But tonight, I present to you my first nominee for the Just When I Thought I’d Seen It All 2009 award … the Popeck family!
There I was, calmly shooting along on an average November morning, when suddenly Nick mooned me! Quick as a flash and without warning, I saw it through my lens as I was coaxing a smile. And then he straightened up, faced forward and gave me the mischievous smile I was looking for, and continued on his signature-style way. The kid has one of the best belly laughs I’ve ever heard. The shot of Nick throwing his head back in a full-on belly laugh is one of my favorites of my photographer career. It’s authentic and raw.
So anyhow, back to the session.
A few minutes later when Dad showed up (he was a little late because he’d been attending parent-teacher conferences), Nick’s brother Jackson kindly recounted the whole story to fill in his father — mooning me again to be certain his Daddy got the full and complete effect of the scene!
Just when I thought I’d seen it all: two moons!
(I can neither confirm nor deny, but Mom says Dad might have been a “pants-dropper” in his youth so the boys come by the trait honestly. But I digress. Jack went on to give me some of his best smiles, best behavior and Gangsta Jax looks — very photogenic Jack is. Of course, The Moon & Gansta Jax didn’t make the Christmas card cut. It’s a Mom thing. I get it.)
I’ll tell you, I had so much fun photographing this family, it sort of makes me feel guilty to do this for work. Lucky for my conscience, the Popecks came to me for their Christmas portraits as high bidders from the school auction — so they paid well and the money was put to good use renovating the science lab for these beautiful boys in years to come.
So without further ado …