A Portrait of a Child on a Sick Day

When I first started learning photography and practicing with an SLR camera, I had a very distinct idea of what made a beautiful portrait. I had visions of backdrops and perfectly posed children. I even tried to recreate these types of portraits in my living room on many occasions–some successful, some not.

That type of photography was all I had known to that point, so I am not surprised that type of portrait was the first to draw my eye. After all, that was the type of portrait that I grew up having taken. That was the type of portrait that I saw hanging in everyone’s homes (including my own.)

Those were the types of portraits I paid to have taken of my oldest children. And please don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that type of portrait. Those types of portraits do record what we look like on a certain date, whether we had braces that year or not and how our families (and hairstyles–this always made me laugh when I looked at old portraits) change over time.

However, after several years of taking photographs, I have a very different impression of what makes a beautiful portrait. To me, a beautiful portrait records more than just our facial features.

It can also record our personality, likes and dislikes, what makes us happy, and fleeting emotion. A beautiful portrait isn’t always posed and doesn’t even have to have a beautiful backdrop. A beautiful photograph can record details that the human mind will certainly forget over time.

This last 6 weeks, my little boy has been constantly sick with several different colds–one right after the other. And this last cold has been the worst one yet.

So one afternoon, as he was sitting on my lap (the spot he rarely wants to leave when he isn’t feeling good) and I really wanted to get something else done besides holding him all day, I decided to record what THIS day looks like.

And in my heart of hearts, I know that I will treasure these quick portraits of him as he is right now–sick and all–for a very long time. I also know these pictures capture the little details of his life much more than a perfectly posed photo in my living room.

Taken while reading books on my lap. Just a few of the many books we have read lately.

Doing one of the other things that makes him happy. He loves to sing and play the piano–and he does it with such expression that I sometimes laugh out loud! I hope it lasts!