sleeping with the turtles :: st. paul children's photographer

This is one of my mini-sessions in Chicago. A little bit about my minis - they're only 20 minutes in length. Including time for the kids to warm up, time to joke around, get 'em laughing, see if I can convince them to move to the location with the best light, interact with parents, siblings... it's pretty jam packed. Goes by in a flash. So when disaster hit 5 minutes into this session, I thought it would be over. Done. Fini. But this mom was a miracle worker. Truly. Molly, I wish you lived here in St. Paul, because I would totally hire you to come work some magic with my kids.

So here's the story. Illustrated.

This sweet boy brought his favorite matchbox cars with him to the session. From what mom said, they mean the world to him. He showed me each one, and brought a few over to play with as we shot some photos.


Now this session was at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park. Pond being the operative word. He thought it was great fun to plop his little car into the edge of the pond. Mom fished it out, and they dried it off together.


This happened a couple times, and then he got to thinking.

See where this is going?

For the next one, he gave a big vroom, and launched the car right out to the middle of the pond.

It took him a few seconds to understand what had just happened. Mom didn't miss a beat. No scolding. No horror. Just calm. Did I mention she is a miracle worker? Pure magic. She explained to him that now the car was out in the pond with the fish and turtles. And that it was going to stay there, and that it was so nice of him to share his car with the turtles. He listened. Calmly, at first. I could see it sinking in that he wouldn't be seeing his beloved car again. He was trying so hard to keep it together. And mom just kept talking about how the turtles were so thankful for their new car. And that he could come back and visit anytime.

His favorite car was going to be sleeping with the turtles. Forever.

He finally understood, and just melted into his mom. I shot this photo seconds before he lost it.


Now I understand that this isn't the photo that this family will blow up for a 30x40 wall canvas. But I love this photo. So. Much. Can you just see the utter and complete sadness in his eyes? It just makes me want to break down weeping right there with him. Look at mom - completely present for him, absolutely in tune with what he needed at that moment. This photo speaks volumes about their connection.

For about one minute, I thought that was it for the session. Unrecoverable. How could he possibly come back after losing one of his favorite matchbox cars...

But he did. And I shot this just 6 minutes after the last photo.


Sitting down with his box of raisins, as if he had not a care in the world. What an amazing kid. And mom. You guys are fantastic.

Here are a couple other photos from the shoot, both of which were taken after he lost his little red friend.



Love love love this last photo. What a little sweetie.

Thanks so much for everything, [P] family. I had a truly enjoyable session with you.