“Heidi, do you take pictures for other people?”
My head jerked up and I eyed the woman sitting across from me at my kitchen table.
I was the new Bear Den Leader for our church’s Cub Scout Pack and the woman sitting with me was my new assistant.
We were planning out the next month’s Den meetings and the last thing I expected was for her to say those words.
Silence hung in the air.
“Uh… no,” I finally stammered, “I mean–a few people have asked me to, but I told them I wasn’t sure. And I was going to tell them no, but now I’m kind of thinking about trying it. But how did you know I take pictures?”
My heart rate was sky high and words were spewing from my mouth at an alarming speed.
“My husband heard you enjoy taking pictures and he wanted me to ask if you’d do it for us,” she answered with a level of calmness I was light years away from, “We have three kids and I really want to get some pictures done before my son gets any bigger.”
“Oh,” was all I said.
“So….., will you do it?” she finally asked point blank.
Holy smokes! I thought, What do I say???
“Uh, well, yeah, I guess,” I started spewing again, “I mean–I’ll have to check with my husband and it would have to be after my son went to bed but I guess maybe we could do something sometime probably.”
“Great!” she said, “What do you charge?”
And that’s when my lungs deflated and my brain shut down.
“Uh…..,” I said, staring at the floor uncomfortably and then hesitantly meeting her eyes as I told her as fast as possible.
Strangely enough, however, she wasn’t scared off by my blabbering and officially set up an appointment with me.
And from that minute on, my blood pressure skyrocketed and my intestines tied themselves into 50 million knots.
Then I had the same thoughts over and over again…..
Holy smokes, what am I going to do?
You’ve never been paid for taking pictures before!
You don’t even know anything about photography!!
And you think you’re going to take pictures of three kids who’ve never even met you before?!
And then the day of our appointment finally arrived and it was time for me to step up to the plate and see how I did.
So, I put the Bubbers King to bed, took a deep breath and then went downstairs to prepare my little “studio” of black fabric hooked to the ceiling.
Then I heard the pitter patter of little customer feet at my front door and I knew the moment of reckoning had come.
So, I opened the door and welcomed them in.
Things went as planned at first, but it wasn’t long before the children became children and started throwing curve balls at me.
Then I had to take it up a notch and work even harder to get them to hold still, smile and look at me all at the same time.
All the while I worriedly checked the pictures on my camera’s screen to see if they were turning out.
And try as I might to keep my spirits high, my inner confidence began to nose dive and I started to convince myself that I’d gotten in over my head.
I didn’t tell my friend, though, I just grit my teeth, dug in my heels and did the darndest best job I knew how to do.
And I decided that if she hated them, then I wouldn’t charge her a penny.
Two hours later, we finally called it quits and they packed up and went home.
Then I collapsed onto the couch in a pathetic heap and weakly begged my Prince Charming to get me a glass of refreshing water and the plate of dinner I’d been too nervous to eat before the shoot.
He chuckled and asked, “It was that rough, huh?”
I rubbed my weary eyes and nodded, “That was a million times harder than speech therapy!”
A few days later, I recovered enough to finally look at the pictures and assess the damage I had done.
I sifted out my favorites with an overly critical eye and did some editing.
Then my friend came over to choose which ones she wanted and to settle up the bill.
By that time, I had entirely convinced myself that she would be completely dissatisfied and never ask me to take pictures again.
Oh well, I thought to myself as I watched her scroll through the pictures on my computer, I tried and I failed. And now I know I’m not cut out for it.
As she looked through the pictures, she nonchalantly remarked, “So, I’d like you to take some more of my son in a couple of months. And then I’d like you to take a whole family shot in October. Does that work for you?”
Ever so slowly, I lifted my head from the book I was reading to the Wooga Man.
What did she just say? I thought.
When I didn’t respond, she glanced at me and asked again, “Would that work for you?”
“But, um,” I started sputtering, “I’m not doing it anymore.”
“What!?!” she cried and whipped around to look at me, “What do you mean? Why??”
“Well, because, you know!” more sputtering, “It was harder than I thought it would be and I didn’t think you’d like them.”
“What do you mean you didn’t think I liked them?” she burst out, “I told you I liked them! I wouldn’t say I liked them if I didn’t. And I definitely wouldn’t ask you to do it again if I didn’t like them! Why did you think I wouldn’t like them??”
“Because you could get better ones from a real studio,” I told her.
“Maybe,” she said, “But they wouldn’t let me have a CD of the pictures and you do, so I’d rather go to you. Do you have another reason? Was it not worth your time? Do I need to pay you more?”
I continued the conversation with more spewing and confusion–caught completely off guard that she was happy with my service.
And I still haven’t decided if I’ll do it again, but these are some of my favorites from that night in history that I perceived as a failure but was apparently a success…..
I started the shoot with her sweet little boy (who made me want at least forty-two more newborn babies!!).
And then I switched to her oldest daughter who did anything I asked and made me sigh with relief.
After that was her middle child: an adorable two-year-old with a spunky flair for wanting to do her own thing.
And it was around this time that I had convinced myself I was doing a horrible job, so I hauled the girls outside to see if I could salvage things.
So we stepped outside the French doors and I asked silly questions to get a smile.
Then I sat them next to our tool shed.
And made up corny “knock-knock” jokes.
And then I told them not to look at me and not to smile–but they wouldn’t listen! :)
Then I caught a brief reflective moment that I just loved.
And then they begged me to play on my swing set and I said, “Okay, after one more pose you can play…..”
And then I thought to myself, “I have no idea if any of these will turn out…..”
“….. but hot dog if these kids aren’t dang cute!!”
Pictures by: Heidi (on the verge of apoplexy)