The Grinch prompted everything from cries to cuddles from a group of children in a recent "Grinchmas" photo shoot

By Char Adams
September 30, 2019 02:01 PM
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Credit: Kim Durham Photography

Things didn’t go totally as planned when an Arkansas photographer decided to introduce a bunch of young kids to the Grinch in a Christmas photo series.

Kim Durham, of KD Photography, decided to do the “Grinchmas” photo session this year as an “unconventional take on the traditional Christmas photos.”

Families came flocking after she put out the call, and the resulting photos show some little ones crying and screaming as a teen in a bright green Grinch costume approaches a large chair. Other kids looked at the Grinch curiously or smiled, while one even planted a kiss on his cheek.

“I set out just to offer some funny alternative photos,” Durham, based in Bentonville, tells PEOPLE. “We kind of knew that [the twins] would have a reaction. With everyone else we had no idea how they’d react. One little girl cried at first and then she ended up kissing him and petting his hair. Another little girl was terrified and just wanted to play with the decorations on the tree. However, she did end up liking him.”

Tinley with the Grinch
| Credit: Kim Durham Photography

Durham says the parents got a kick out of their kids’ reactions. And her son, Trenton, enjoys playing the character.

“Our Grinch is 16 years old and is having a blast. He never scares the children (intentionally) or even talks to them,” Durham tells PEOPLE of the teen who dresses as the Grinch.

Clara Kate (left) and Sydney (right) with the Grinch
| Credit: Kim Durham Photography

“At the end of the shoot, he takes off his costume and plays with the kids for a few minutes to show them he’s not all that scary,” Durham adds.

A Facebook post with the photos has been shared at least 25,000 times and amassed thousands of comments.

“I still laugh when I look at them! I had no idea it would be this wildly popular,” she says, noting that parents are lining up to do their own Grinchmas shoots with her. “I feel they are only going to get better.”

Twins with the Grinch
| Credit: Kim Durham Photography
Ellie with the Grinch
| Credit: Kim Durham Photography

She admits she’s gotten some negative feedback about the photos, with people calling the shoot “mean.” But she and the parents don’t see it that way, she says.

“It’s the same as taking your kids to see Santa and they cry [over] them too,” Durham tells PEOPLE.

She even offered assurance in her Facebook post.

“Our Grinch doesn’t always cause the tears — we have kisses, hugs and little baby snuggles too!” she wrote. “Don’t be alarmed — the kids in this photo aren’t traumatized. They high five’d, hugged and gave our Grinch knuckles at the end — parents are always close by.”