On what had to be the first real bonafide actual NICE day this Spring in beautiful Northeast Pennsylvania, Heather and I had the opportunity to work with a pretty little girl named Sam for her First Holy Communion portraits! She brought her mom and little sister along for the ride.Sam's mom had procured us a time slot inside the Church, we had one hour. Heather and I unpacked the gear from the car and waited by the front doors to be let in when we learned we had to go in through the back... so we hauled everything around to the back of the building, which Sam and her sister Cass loved as it let them see a part of the Church that they, along with most parishoners, never get to see on their normal visits. So there is a certain mystery to it for some people-- What is behind those doors? Where does the priest go after Mass? What do those rooms look like. Etc etc. Having been an altar boy when I was a kid, I was very familiar with all the behind the scenes that went into Sunday Mass. You get the wine from here, your alb is stored in this closest, you rinse the cruets over here, you get the candle lighting thing-a-bob over here, and light it here. Etc Etc. Nothing special. But it's easy to forget what that was all like the first time, what, 32 years ago? So there was a certain magic getting to see two little girls scope out the mystery behind the walls in their Church with wide eyes.
The nice man who turned on the lights for us reminded Sam's mom that we had one hour, and he hadn't had lunch yet, so... one hour. We didn't waste any time and got moving right away.
We moved around the Church a bit, getting shots from different angles and before long, Sam let me know that she wanted pictures up there... There being the front of the Church. The Altar area. Again, somewhere the kids don't normally get to go.
There's something else kids will do when there are in Church alone, with no nuns and no priests to scold them or give them stern glares (ahhhh... my Catholic School Days memories)... they run! That pink and purple blur in the background below is Cass--back and forth across the front of the Church. No one to stop her until her mom caught on and put and end to things. Heather and I were cracking up as I had to time my shots around Cass speeding through the frame.
Our time inside was winding down and while we weren't chased out, two nice men suddenly appeared and though they said we could take as long as we needed, we knew these guys wanted to go home and have lunch, so we quickly packed up the gear and slipped out the front doors. This displeased Sam who really wanted to get to go through that series of mysterious rooms one more time!
This shot above, with Sam standing by the stained glass doors is a perfect example of why you never put your camera away while working with children, or seniors, or a bridal party, or basically any time you are on a shoot. Sam posed for this shot in the nice soft natural light as we were walking through the doors with them locking behind us.
Throughout our entire shoot inside the Church, Sam was an absolute pro. She stood where I told her, looked where I directed her, and change the expression on her face from happy, to pensive, to curious with grace, and she hung in there with me like a champ.
We headed outside and the sun was still landing pretty heavily and directly on the front stairs so we walked around to the side of the Church where the light was a little more manageable. I was standing about 40 feet away, and calling out direction to Sam, and she was still hanging in there, but something was amiss. She was clearly distracted by something and every few seconds started fidget about and definitely wanted to get off the stairs for some reason. I made my way to the stairs where she was posing (and by the time I got there she was off the stairs and searching along the sidewalk). She said, "I lost a bead," and pointed to the back of her glove. I looked at Heather, she looked at me, "a bead fell off the back of her glove... she wants to find it." In the back of my head I quickly, and perhaps extremely insensitively, calculated the odds of finding that one small white bead in a Church we were now locked out of , and about 60 feet of stairs, road, and sidewalk and lied: "we will find it". There's no way that bead was going to be found... just, work through this.
We took more shots on the side stairs, with Sam glancing down at the sidewalk every chance she had. That poor little girl really wanted that bead for her glove. Now I was feeling pretty terrible about it (a Catholic experiencing guilt? Go figure!) She was still keeping up with me and my requests, but that bead was clearly bugging her. "Hold on," I heard Heather say from beside me, "I found it!" The day, was saved and Sam's troubles were washed away. A good assistant... you just can't imagine how valuable they are!
Bead restored, so was Sam's full attention to the task at hand, and we headed back around to the front stairs that were now falling into shadow. This is right about when Sam's demeanor toward me became what her mom would later describe as... "punchy". We would set her up on the stairs, get a flash in place behind her, get her posed, and feet set in a certain direction, and I would scurry down the stairs to get her image... Turn around, Sam is now three feet to the left. "What? What are you doing???" All I would get back was giggles and a grin. "Get back up there!" Giggles. A few clicks of the shutter. A lens change, and Sam is now down 4 stairs closer to me. "What do you think you're doing!?!? Get back up there!" Giggles and grins from ear to ear, follow up by very serious debates and discussions over which step she was previously standing on and that I was now asking her to stand on the "wrong step". Situated. Run down the stairs, turn. Sam is off to the side standing in a sunbeam. And that is pretty much how we wrapped up the day. Sam single handedly had me outnumbered.
Now Cass had spent the majority of the time outside the Church laying on blanket in the parking lot next to her mom (clearly worn out from her adventures in the Church, and perhaps the soccer game she just played before arriving). But when I came over to say goodbye, she sprang into action and offered me two jelly beans, like her sister, with a smile that just filled her cute little face. One bean was yellow, and one was red. I thanked her and she giggled. Eyeing the beans with some reservation, I asked if these were those terrible Berti Botts Everyflavor Beans from Harry Potter (the ones that taste, like, well, anything, and usually something unpleasant). This was met with suspicious giggles... and Cass's mom informed me that Sam ended up with one that tasted like dirt not that long ago. Cass just thought that was hilarious and then clarified that the yellow one was for me, and the red one was for Heather. I wanted the red one. :(
Alas, mine was lemon, Heather just said her's was good. I'm going to assume it was cherry. I like cherry jelly beans. Dirt ones, not so much.
Thanks for stopping by!