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Photographing Uncooperative Children

This Saturday, we tried to photograph the girls wearing their Halloween costumes in the backyard. While bouncing on the trampoline, I noticed the perfect backdrop for photographs. The lighting was soft while the fence was delicately draped with fall leaves. Since this is our first year in Maryland and we’re unfamiliar with the rate our trees will shed their leaves, I didn’t want to lose this background. I also had already bought this year’s costumes (which will be used again next year). My girls (Hazel, specifically) love all things Frozen so this year, Maggie will be Elsa and Hazel will be Anna. Even better, the backdrop resembled the setting of the woods in Frozen 2, which made me excited to take advantage of the scenery and mild weather.

I scooped up the girls and got them in their too-big costumes. Maggie didn’t have a problem with the dress, per say, but the wig was something else altogether. Maggie regularly wears a helmet to protect her skull from surprise drop seizures. She doesn’t like the helmet and used to tear it off at any given opportunity once she figured out how it was fastened. At this point, she tolerates the helmet and only takes it off if she’s mad. She’s also sensitive about things being placed on her head, having experienced too many medical examinations and EEGs. She loathes having her curls detangled in the bath and tries to duck away when she sees me coming with the comb, the helmet, or anything else that might mess with her head or hair.

Wig on, I thought.

Wig off, Maggie thought.

Wig on with Bobby pins, I thought.

Wig off, Maggie thought with a loud disapproving grunt.

Fine, wig off after several shots that look more like Maggie trying to dress up like the crazy girl with hair in her face from some horror movie whose name escapes me at this moment. It came out a few years back and all I remember was the scary chick with hair for a face. Unfortunately, that was not the Halloween look I was going for. We hadn’t even made it to the spot by the fence yet.

Hazel’s wardrobe malfunction had more to do with size. I opted for too big since this Halloween will not be one involving trick or treating or costumed Halloween festivities. Her Queen Anna ensemble included a wig and a cape over her coronation gown. Fascinated with the Velcro fastening her cape over her shoulders, she’d pull it apart just to hear the sound.

Cape on, I thought.

Cape off, Hazel thought.

Cape on, I thought, refastening the Velcro.

Cape off, Hazel thought, pulling the Velcro apart with glee.

I wanted the cape on for another reason. Since her coronation gown was too big, when Hazel walked, she stepped on skirt, which pulled the gown down. After a couple of steps, Hazel looked more like Lady Godiva than Queen Anna without the cape.

The wig was easier with Hazel. She loves to play dress up. Bunny ears headband from Easter? Hazel wears those while playing in the playroom. Superhero mask across the eyes? She’ll sport those like a headband. The problem was concealing her brunette hair underneath the ginger wig. I didn’t splurge for the netting that can hide your hair. I’d get the wig in place and Hazel would push it around in fascination. Instead of wearing the wig as intended, she looked more like she was wearing a ginger red toupee draped across her head and shoulders.

For the actual shoot, I gave up on the wigs. I’ll try again with next year’s Halloween photo shoot.

Corralling the girls to the right spot while keeping their costumes on and unsoiled was another issue. I carried Maggie to the spot while Hazel followed. I put her in place, then adjusted Hazel while Maggie tried to run away. I’d grab Maggie and put her back and Hazel would try to pull my phone from my pocket. I got Hazel to sit in place, but Maggie would not. The best I could do was have Maggie standing for a moment or two before she’d run off.

Next year, hopefully, they’ll get reuse these Frozen costumes for neighborhood trick or treating, perhaps a community event, but for this year, we’ll use our costumes for backyard photos and playing dress up. Maybe after a year of playing dress up in the playroom, we’ll be able to keep the wigs on their heads for a couple of photos.


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