A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by the photographer, Vanessa Lewis, to enquire if I would allow Ava to participate in a rather exciting and very hush hush project she is involved in. They were looking for children with unusual ethnicity and looks to participate and of course I jumped at the chance. And you would too if you’re familiar with the amazing child portraits that Vanessa has done. I had to supply her with a few photo’s of Ava as well as her clothing size for her stylist to create the set, complete with props and clothing for the shoot. I was very excited about this… Ava… not so much.

So on Saturday, we headed off to Vanessa’s studio, which is utterly mind blowing just by the way, for this top secret shoot. I’d prepared Ava as best I could. Explaining that we were going to take some pretty pictures and her Dad was going to show her photo to everyone at work, but that she would have to change there into the specific themed outfit that had been chosen for her. She was adamant that she would not be wearing that outfit but would in fact be dressing as the Easter Bunny. I was a little apprehensive because… well because… Ava is known for being extremely stubborn and I knew that if she made up her mind not to cooperate that she simply wouldn’t and there wouldn’t be a damn thing I, or anyone else, could do about that.

We arrived a little early at the studio, in the hope that Ava could watch the child scheduled before her and perhaps this would settle and help get her cooperation. As luck would have it <not> Pippa Tshabalala’s son was scheduled ahead of us, a gorgeous little thing, who, it would seem, has the same stubborn streak as Ava because he too was having NONE of it.  Between the two of them, the atmosphere rapidly deteriorated to one of anarchy. Pippa hoping her son would cooperate when he saw Ava, me hoping Ava would cooperate when she saw Pippa’s son. Yeah no chance.

Vanessa and her team were amazing! So patient, not pushy with the kids at all, and clearly used to working with models who refuse to cooperate. We spent sometime jumping on the trampoline, play riding the Vesper in studio and pulling and pushing the buttons on the pinball machines.

When the stylist brought out the hot curling iron, Ava increased her freak out completely! Even when the stylist demo’d the hot curling iron in my hair, Ava wouldn’t come anywhere near her and she literally collapsed when she saw the outfit she had to wear, point plank refusing to put it on.

Now I know for SURE why I would never enter my child into a contest as seen on Toddlers and Tiara’s. It was freaking stressful! I kept thinking how we were wasting everyone’s time and effort that had gone into the set creation. Vanessa had even tried bribing Ava with a Kinder Joy egg but ja, the answer was still NO!

Out of desperation, I took Ava into the toilet with her outfit and Kinder Joy egg and explained to her very nicely, that if she put the dress on and let the photographer take her picture, I would take her to Toys R Us and let her chose ANYTHING she wanted.  She double checked with me…. Anything? Anything I want Mom?

Within 5 seconds the dress was on and I knew I was potentially in a lot of trouble!

She was still refusing to go on set but we left for a little to run around and play in a massive studio while the final touches were done on set.


Eventually Ava agreed to go on set so that the actual photography could start, but the second Vanessa stepped behind the camera she hopped off the chair and refused to have her picture taken. When I told her we weren’t going to Toys R Us any more, she told me: “Actually Mommy, I don’t care!”

In the end, Vanessa, ever the pro, suggested that I take the photo’s, after she’d set up the focus on the camera and Ava agreed to this, while everyone else hid behind the screen, she animatedly posed for the pictures and I managed to snap about 20 shots and after checking them, Vanessa agreed there were plenty good ones there to work with.

I can’t wait until I have the go ahead to share this project with you. The set was beautiful and the photo’s are very interesting, Ava landed up choosing a plastic cow in a stable at Toys R Us, so I got off lightly and the whole morning landed up being a ton of fun, even Ava admitted to that!