Much like my friend Chrissy, my friend Jana had been mentioning for some time that she would like to have some photos of herself and her son Cooper. We finally decided on a time and met up at Chautauqua Institution back in October of last year.
I always strive to make people look as good as possible in my photos, but with Jana and Cooper there was a little more incentive than usual. You see, Jana is my boss at WCA Hospital. Don't get me wrong, she's a great boss and we get along fine, but there's that little extra bit of pressure to make sure the boss looks good..... oh yeah, and her kid too.
I really didn't need to worry, however. Jana and Cooper are both great in front of the camera. Cooper especially, considering he was only eight years old at the time. (He recently turned nine. Happy birthday Cooperman!)
I probably should take this opportunity to offer a warning to all the parents of young ladies. You may want to start planning on how exactly you are going to lock up your daughters, because young Mr. Cooper, in the not too distant future, is going to be a playah. (Pardon my use of youthful urban slang, but it seemed appropriate....... I'll try not to let it happen again.) He's a great looking kid with tons of personality and energy. Earlier in the day he had participated in a cross country race (I think it was a mile) and I wondered if he might be a little tired and uncooperative or just the opposite, really wired and bouncing off the walls. I didn't need to worry though, as he was very cooperative and even had some ideas for some shots himself. One interesting thing though, throughout the whole shoot he kept saying that he really wanted to climb a tree. I found that request to be a little random, but I didn't care, so I asked Jana and she said it was okay (although I think I sensed a bit of hesitation in her voice. I kind of got the feeling that Cooper may not be that much of an accomplished tree climber).
Now, if you've ever been to Chautauqua Institution, you realize that there are tons of trees there. I figured it would be no problem to find a suitable tree for Cooper to shimmy up. Well, I'm not sure exactly how they've done it, whether by creating some sort of genetically mutated tree seeds or by bands of crazed Chautauqua residents running around with chain saws, but we could not find a tree that was big enough to climb that had any branches that were closer than 10 feet off the ground. Every time we went to a new spot to do some photos Cooper would ask if there was a tree that he could climb. I would dutifully look around and then give him the bad news that no, there wasn't a suitable tree in sight. As the shoot was winding down we still hadn't found an appropriate tree and I was starting to feel pretty bad because he really wanted to climb a tree. (To this day I'm still not sure why he wanted to climb one so bad. I'm pretty sure his hometown has trees. Maybe he lives in a tree free zone or something.) As it was now getting dark and we were heading to our vehicles to leave, I suggested we look at one more place to see if there was an appropriate tree for Cooper to climb, and then........ there it was. It was like something from a movie. It was like a shaft of light was descending from Heaven and shining on this one tree. I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing. We walked over to it. It was perfect. The first branch was about six feet off the ground and more than big enough to hold him. I may or may not have hugged the tree, I can't really remember, it's all kind of foggy. I asked him if this would do and he enthusiastically said, "Yes!". I then triumphantly lifted young Mr. Cooper up onto the first branch. The tree was big enough that he could have climbed up another eight or ten feet so I started telling him how to turn and which branches to use. He got turned around and after a few seconds of looking at the path I had laid out for him said something to the effect of, "You know something? I think I'm good."
"WHAT!?!", I screamed in my head. "YOU'VE BEEN ASKING TO CLIMB A TREE FOR LIKE AN HOUR AND A HALF AND I'VE BEEN REALLY FEELING BAD BECAUSE I COULDN'T FIND ONE THAT WOULD WORK AND YOU LIVE IN A PLACE WITH NO TREES AND NOW WE'VE FOUND ONE THAT HAD LIGHT FROM HEAVEN ON IT AND ANGELS WERE SINGING AND I GET YOU ON THE FIRST BRANCH AND YOU SAY YOU'RE GOOD!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!" (Please note that the last paragraph was all said in my head. At no time did I actually yell at the child like a crazed tree hunting photographer.)
I calmly asked him if he was sure he wanted to get down and he said, "Yes." So I got him down out of tree and we all walked to our vehicles and went home. And that was that. Photos below.