We are one week away from this year’s installment of my family’s Cousin Camp. Get excited, People! Last year’s fun, included kayaking, a bounce house obstacle course, many chunky babies (The. Best.), delicious food, and plenty of time spent laughing with family. The picture for this month’s Outside the Frame Series comes from last year’s cousin camp. To me, it’s one of the dearest images I have ever captured.

Outside the Frame / Cousin Camp 2017

When I first saw the bounce house, I knew it would make for some fantastic action shots of the kids. They would be engrossed in jumping, sliding and beating whomever they were racing against, and the resulting images would be a whole lot of fun. With that vision in mind, I find it rather ironic that this rather calm image is my favorite not only of the bounce-house series but the whole weekend.

I guess what I was envisioning in my head was of a grander design than this. Something with the kids flying down the slide, over an obstacle, or laughing hysterically. But, as soon as I snapped this picture, I knew it was perfect.

The calm expression of the boy sitting down was a stark contrast to the hustle and noise going on around him, to the rollicking bounce house on which he was perched. The dynamic of him sitting there while his cousins raced on and ran by was somehow calming, tranquil.

Family Reunion Photography

Documentary photography can be really frustrating at times. While I love the lack of posing, capturing life as it is, and just waiting to see what unfolds, there are times when you will have excellent light, the most exquisite composition, but the moment you thought would happen or were trying to capture, just doesn’t come. Or sometimes it happens so fast that you just miss it. It might happen again, and usually, kids will repeat whatever they’ve just done, but it might not. It’s par for the course, but it can get annoying.

This is one of those times when I knew the symmetry of this starting line would be gorgeous in an image. I found my light, found my composition and waited for what I thought would be a hilarious starting line image of three kiddos hurling themselves into the bounce house. It would be vibrant and full of energy. Instead, this calm image that seems to show a glimpse into a quiet moment of one child is what I captured.

And it’s perfect.

That is perhaps one of the things I love the most about documentary lifestyle family photography. No, I don’t pose, and I often don’t direct (There are times when it’s necessary, but I usually don’t.), and I am sometimes frustrated when something happens that I just didn’t catch. But, there is always an image that unfolds better than I could have ever planned or imagined.

It’s why I tell any family who may be on the fence about a documentary or lifestyle family session to just give it a try. If I had focused on posing, this picture never would have been captured. But, it’s this picture that shows more of the personality of the little boy than any posed image ever would.

Outside the Frame Series: Cousin Camp Edition | The Outside the Frame Series is where Laura Glen shares some of her most favorite images – what happened that led to that image, the meaning or impact of the image – or maybe just the one over which she is currently swooning.