Alex Wesson Photography

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L & M and my love for kids who fake a smile for the camera

When L and I first started talking about her family's photo session she warned me that her son was not the biggest fan of having his photo taken and that I was going to have to work pretty hard for smiles. This is not atypical for 5 year old boys, but still, I armed myself with plenty of m&ms and Mom's permission to bribe. When they arrived for their session I was so excited by the whole family's perfectly coordinated outfits and the fact that they were all so darn gorgeous it was going to be tough to take a bad photo of them. But still, in the back of my head was Mom's warning which was compounded by the fact that he was much more interested in my play kitchen than he was in stepping on the backdrop. But then he busted out this huge hilarious grin and started making this funny sound. When mom asked him what that was about he told her that he was fake laughing so that he would smile like she wanted him to!!! My heart exploded. A) That is exactly the right way to do a fake smile so it doesn't look fake and B) I don't know if you know this about me but I am obsessed with kids fake smiles. I think they are just about the nicest thing in the world. Here's this kid who isn't happy, and doesn't want to be smiling. But they know their parents want them to so they do it. They haven't had years of practicing in the mirror so they don't know what their best smile feels like, and often it's a bit ghoulish, but it is such a beautiful act of selflessness and generosity and it just melts my heart in to a puddle. To be five years old, standing in a strange person's house, on a strange grey backdrop, with lights flashing in your eyes and be doing a laugh to make your mom & dad happy (and the m&ms didn't hurt), well that's just true love.  And pretty soon that fake laugh turned in to real laughter, and the whole thing cracked up his mom, dad and gorgeous little sister, so all in all I'd call it a win!