As the father of three little boys, all under the age of 5, I rather fancy that I’m a dab hand at channeling the flow of irrational energies. You’re freaking out because you don’t like the color of your bowl? Interesting. Your shirt has sleeves? Well, sorry about that. Deal with it. Hey, is that a helicopter?

I haven’t actually asked, but I’d like to think that my reputation as a veteran of the toddler wars preceded me to The Grid, Toronto’s favorite weekly newspaper, when they were trying to decide who should shoot this week’s cover feature. I’ve known Shelbie, the Grid’s photo editor, for a while, so I was naturally very pleased when she called needing some photos. And even more so when she explained the assignment. The article is called “49 Totally Rad Things To Do With Your Kid In The City”, and it’s just that, a big list of cheap-to-free activities that families can do together in and around Toronto.










The shoot was an absolute delight, although I won’t be eating Gummi Worms again anytime soon. We focused on three of the list items: ice cream sandwich making, t-shirt decorating, and a peculiar type of hopscotch called “Escargot”. My lovely and talented wife Kristin produced, cast, propped, and styled the story, and the kids had a great time. The photographic challenge, in my mind, was coming up with an approach that would be fun and a bit unexpected without sliding into a generic-feeling lifestyle photography cliché. It was a hot, sunny day, so it seemed a good opportunity to break out the on-camera flash and bring a bit of graphic in-your-face-ness to the proceedings. I suggested this to Shelbie and she knew exactly what I meant, so we were off to the races.

I ended up with a lot more imagery than they could possibly use, which led of course to the age-old photographer’s quandry; how many options to present? Some shooters are of the mind that the less you show the client, the better, the unspoken assumption being that clients are idiots, with hidden agendas and no visual acuity. The implication is that if they have too much to choose from, they’ll screw you by picking the worst shots, and that in an ideal world everyone would only present one image option, take it or leave it, because photographers are artists who should be entitled to dictate terms, and clients are just an inconvenience.

This attitude is surprisingly prevalent, and to be honest, I find it baffling. I can think of only a handful of photographers that might warrant this kind of approach, but a lot of people working in “creative” fields seem to feel this way on some level.

I don’t — I give my customers (notice I called them customers?) as many options as I possibly can, in this case, nearly 300 low res for the 3 final shots. And how did it work out? Well, there were so many to choose from, the paper decided to run a split cover for the first time ever — as Shelbie put it, they couldn’t decide between a little girl cover or a little boy cover, so they did one of each.

And if I’d only given them three frames, it never would have happened.





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