PHOTOGRAPHING TODDLERS is a thankless task. At the moment, coaxing Little Buddha into smiling for the camera is completely futile. She has an unerring ability to look my way only at the moment when the shutter is down.
I feel sorry for previous generations of parents who must have wasted reams of expensive film on shots of young toddlers looking away at the last moment, closing their eyes, pulling a face. At least with a digital camera, I can keep snapping away at no cost except to my patience and my dreamy ideas of posterity.
So, imagine my glee on our recent holiday in Northumberland when I found both kids sat playing on the bottom of the stairs. I grabbed the camera and with only a little cajoling – ‘this way kids’, ‘look at Daddy’, ‘look what Daddy has got (er, a camera)’ – I enticed them both into posing for my precious photo collection.
Boy Wonder was fairly compliant and, after a few near misses, I could see Little Buddha looking straight at me and smiling. Click, click, click – and in one fantastic moment, I knew I had The Shot. One that would probably fly around the world to friends and family. One that might dominate the home screen of my phone and my computer desktop. One that could garner plenty of ‘likes’ on Facebook.
Like a hunter carrying a sedate lion cub over my shoulder, I showed The Shot to the Duchess in the cottage kitchen and she agreed that it was worthy of joining our Wall of Fame of family photographs back home.
Sure, it was an anodyne setting but what mattered was that Little Buddha’s smile was brilliant and she was looking up directly at the camera. All of that wasted effort suddenly felt vindicated.
The satisfactory glow remained until we got home and shortly after posting it online a friend commented: ‘Really funny picture… boys will be boys, hey!’.
We looked again. We looked at Boy Wonder, probably for the first time. We said: ‘Ah’.
So here it is. A lovely shot of my daughter. But not one that ended up adorning our Wall of Fame…