For my assignments, especially commissioned children portraits, I always work from photography. You know that by now. I travel with my entire photo gear to the sitter´s home – hopefully to return with good material.
I say hopefully, because there is always an element of uncertainty. In the past, when digital photography did not exist, that uncertainty was many times bigger, especially when I had to go abroad for a commission. More than once I stayed longer than I had anticipated in the client´s country in order to develop and print my photographs before returning to my studio in Spain. I can say, I almost never had setbacks, the material was always satisfactory. Except once…
I can tell this you after all those years. I returned from commission meetings to Spain and I travelled by car. I had been visiting three customers for commissioned children portraits. Carefully, I had packed my main stuff in a separate small backpack: my camera, my money and my passport and would always carry those items with me as soon as I left the car. What happened? In southern France, after a coffee stop along the motorway, I simply left that backpack in the restaurant! After six hundred miles I realized my stupidity. Camera away, money and passport gone but above all the photographic material of the three shoots. All that stuff disappeared for ever. I had to make new arrangements with the customers to repeat the sessions. It’s a black page in my career as a portrait painter. I lied to the people as I told them that the backpack was stolen; I could not tell the truth.
But I wanted to talk about children’s portraits. Preparing children for a photo shoot is not always easy. I’m a complete stranger to them. When I meet the parents for the preparatory introduction, the child in question is often present. Usually I almost ignore his or her presence until the child comes to me by itself. A successful photo shoot depends on the level of mutual trust. Certainly with children. At the time of the sessions that I had to repeat, the kids already knew me more because of the previous visits. The shoots proceeded very smoothly and successfully in all three cases, probably because the children remembered me well.
At the end of my story a quote from the legendary Dutch soccer player Johan Cruyff: “Every disadvantage has its advantage”. And so it is