OK, Ready, Smile!! | Behind the Scenes with Anna Bein

This post is part of a series of behind the scene posts authored by the Where The Boys regular contributors. This is our opportunity to share with you the very best of us and our different perspectives on mothering / capturing / documenting our sons. Our hope is that in these posts you find encouragement and inspiration in your journey of celebrating your son(s). 

Today's post is brought to you by Anna Bein. To get to know the author better and connect with their work visit their individual page here


Having a photography-obsessed mother can’t be easy for most children. Especially if you’re an only child! My obsession began when I became a momma and my insatiable appetite to capture my son doing what he does has never gone away. In fact it gets stronger all the time.

He never really has been one to sit and smile for the camera. It used to drive me nuts. I’d have my camera ready to take a photo when we were out and about just like my dad did when we were kids. I’d get him to sit down in front of the (insert statue, famous landmark or special place name here), “ok, ready, smile!” thinking that’s what you do. That’s the way photos were always taken of us when we were growing up and I wanted to get those special moments captured on film for the next generation to have. This quickly led to frustration because every single time I’d get some weird hand over his face, or a karate chop complete with sound effects. What was I doing wrong? Why didn’t he like to have his picture taken? I guess it was only about a year ago that I actually realised that he’s never going to sit still for me and I needed to get the upper hand and figure out how to capture my little man without the attention being on taking the photo. 

Several photography classes later and armed with more knowledge, I think I have it sorted. I started using my photography to document and tell stories, rather than just ‘capture the perfect shot’.  I realised that when I just aimed to use my camera to tell a story that it finally fell into place.  I was now finding myself lying on the ground as he was playing quietly with his cars or Lego. Or hiding around the corner behind a wall in my hallway ready with my camera aimed to capture him as he threw himself onto the lounge pretending to be Superman. Having a boy, I had to get creative and by creative I mean come up with ways to use my camera as a prop rather than think of ways to bribe him to sit still. It’s been binoculars, a gun, a pirate’s spyglass…you name it, I’ve tried it!  This was it. This was my perfect shot. As soon as I had it sorted a whole new photography world opened up for me.

I suddenly realised that there’s no rules or magic formulas to get ‘that shot’. The perfect shot is the one that speaks to you. The one that brings back memories of a special place or time. The one that reminds you of their cheeky little smiles, their tears or their monster face used to try and scare you. It’s the one that makes you laugh, smile or remember fondly a time from the past. When I look back now at each and every image I’ve captured of his short 5 years, I remember the story and to me that’s what counts, not that he smiled for me and looked at the camera.