WELL not quite how it went!
We set out one evening to the local park and the 2 year old had a different agenda. Like most 2 year old's can be at times, he wasn't a happy camper this particular evening, squirmy, agitated, and just didn't want to sit still for even a split second with the family to have his picture taken. This is where patience steps in and as a photographer you have two jobs, the most important one is to keep the parents or grandparents calm and reassure them that it will all be ok, Give them instructions on sitting still, continuing to look at the camera, and not focusing on the child who is not cooperating, and the second job is getting the child to look at you for a split second with some sort of resemblance of a beautiful smile. I love crying kid photos they are fun and most often how the session goes anyway but for the family portrait to hang above the mantel we needed that Norman Rockwell moment and the parents are always thinking you didn't get anything.
After taking an hours worth of photos with lots of "B" roll. I had this one last image the one that I created in my mind just for this family. The two children were to hold this banner in front of the adults it was going to be perfect. Not so much, the entire session I was thinking how do I revamp my image so I used the grandparents to hold the banner and I instructed them not to turn around and look at their kids and grandkids at all. This was going to show their personalities and be a fun family portrait now. I instructed the family to play with their 2 year old and the daughter to have a bit of an attitude towards her older sister's family, the great thing about portraits you can't hear what is happening and our 2 year old is still crying and laughing at his mom at the same time.
This became the favorite photo of the entire session, and the grandparents loved it. Not all mantel worthy photos need be stiff, ridged, and posed. Sometimes you've got to punt. As the photographer it could have been a disaster but my main job was to give the family what they wanted memories of this moment in their life and I believe I did that through patience with a 2 year old and revamping my original photo idea.
So as you are taking portraits no matter how picturesque they may be in your mind you will have to punt.