Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Monthly Baby Photos: Round 2

As I'm sure you have noticed, we have been taking pictures of E.J. every month to track his growth, just as we did with Ellie. As a refresher, here is Ellie's full set:

Look at that little shrimp!

Some adorable pictures, right? We were so pleased with how they came out. We felt that each month we were able to capture her essence (including the nine-month photo, unfortunately - that was a rough month!), she wore some of her cutest outfits, and all in all, it turned out to be a great record of her first year.

So, we've been doing the same with E.J.:

Too much growing up for my taste.

Just as with Ellie, E.J. has worn some of his best outfits, and we've been able to capture E.J. at his very "E.J.-est" in each photo.

The difference between the two sets of pictures is the amount of work that went in to each photo session.

I've said it many times before: E.J. is the world's happiest baby. Ellie, on the other hand, was not. That's not to say she was a screaming, crying, nightmare of an unhappy child - quite the contrary, in fact. She, too, was happy and sweet. She was just...harder to impress, you might say? More guarded with her happy emotions, perhaps? And, more vocal about her displeasure when warranted. Both children have had happy moments and sad moments. The difference is how and when they choose to express their emotions: when Ellie was unhappy, she would wail and it would be tough to settle her. When E.J. is upset, he fusses a little but will easily turn his frown upside down with a minor distraction. When Ellie was happy, she would laugh at the very funniest things, but everything else was met with just a smile (and I'm pretty sure she sometimes still refuses to smile just to spite us). With E.J., if something is mildly amusing, you get baby laughs. Ellie has just always been more inclined to fully express herself if she's upset about something, and E.J. is more inclined to fully express himself when he's happy.

So while the end result of our monthly photo sessions might be similar, the process was very different. We got great pictures of Ellie, but to do so required literally hundreds of outtakes. Sometimes we would take hundreds of photos in multiple settings just to get a really good one.

We would get a lot of stonefaced ones:

She's mildly amused at best.

A few "oopsies":

Mmmm, delicious dress.

Inevitably at least a few tearful ones:

She does love the drama.

And finally, our winner:


And, for each of those hundreds of photos, I was behind the camera putting on a one-woman spectacle to try to get that girl to laugh. I was dancing, and singing, and making goofy faces, and squeaking toys, and even making Achilles dance. Whatever it took, right? Well, it took a lot. I would end those photoshoots exhausted. But we did it!

I used Ellie's four-month photos as an example above because it was while taking E.J.'s four-month photo that I realized the difference. For E.J.'s session, we took 30 photos. That's it. Thirty. And the kicker? Every single one of them was a completely usable picture. Here is the one we ultimately used as the "official" picture:

Stop it.

And here are some of the "outtakes":

This one was the "worst" of the whole bunch. His smile in this one is about as big as the one in Ellie's winning four-month picture.

This was second-smallest smile in the batch.

Adorable! Hands blocking his mouth, though.

Very cute, but not our winner. Rest assured, the rest of the 30 were just like this. HOW DO WE CHOOSE.

I mean. Right??? Basically, every single photo could be "the" photo. Instead of having to choose the one with a smile or what have you, we can worry about quality of the actual picture, or choose how we prefer his hands, or which one shows his hair better, or any other minor details.

AND. Do you know what I was doing to get those smiles? Almost nothing. I was standing still behind the camera, softly cooing, "hiiiiiii, E.J.!" That's it. The end. No acrobatics or elaborate comedy routine required. Also, he was overdue for a nap. Obviously.

It's just funny to me how those monthly photo sessions so accurately illustrate the difference in my children's personalities. Neither is better or worse than the other; they just are who they are and it is so cool to me to see their differences. I just love Ellie's spirited personality - she is bold and opinionated and smart and outspoken in a way that I wish I was. I also adore E.J.'s sweet, happy nature - I identify with him as more of a quiet observer. They both bring something unique to our family and as a whole, we're better for it.

I am so lucky to have those two kiddos.

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