We have NEVER taken a successful professional family photo.
Six years ago when we attempted our first family photo, Boy 3 was six months old and had basically never cried much in his life. The morning of our photos, he woke up at 5 am with a tooth coming in and a chip on his shoulder. I scrambled around ironing clothes and combing hair, pacifying screaming babies and toddlers who refused to wear the photo shoot clothes.
During the session, in what I now understand to be a foreshadowing of his “go against the grain” personality, my fussy baby learned to crawl and would not stay in the shot.
Our photographer was not used to such a crowd of small children. She kept asking the boys to all look at her at the same time. “Boys! Boys! Look over here! Smile!!” I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and scream, “We are relying on pure chance and a miracle from heaven. JUST KEEP SNAPPING SHOTS!! They will NEVER do what you tell them to!!!!”
We left in shame without a single print.
I must have suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome as a result of that day, because I haven’t had the willpower to try again.
But a few weeks ago, a wonderful friend offered to help heal my broken soul and take some photos for us. Since the kids are older and able to be controlled by guilt and sugar (I’m a really good mom!), I was hopeful.
I tried to keep it simple. I don’t have the capacity to organize super matchy outfits, so I picked out some colorful clothes for all of us. We decided to take the photos at the YMCA (I know, so chic) because it is familiar, close to our house, and has a nice waterfall on the grounds.
For inspiration, I poked around on Pinterest, since that’s the place to go when you want to look creative, but not have to actually be creative. We grabbed a few vintage chairs, some art from our bedroom that I made last year, and a blanket. The most effort I expended was to buy balloons to hold in an attempt to make it fun, and distract the children from my drill sergeant commands like “Smile!”, “Stand still!”, and “Pretend you are a happy person!”.
They were all given giant bottles of soda before the pictures, to secure myself a place in their good graces.
During the shoot, Mr. Fantastic perfected the delivery of this line, “Don’t ruin this for your mother. She loves you. Do what you’re supposed to.” I love my husband with a everlasting love.
There were a couple of chaotic moments. Boy 2 had a blue balloon that Boy 1 caused to break free and fly away. Tears were shed, and when we offered him a new blue balloon, we learned that Boy 2 had life-long plans for that precious now-lost balloon. “It was my favorite balloon ever!!” he sobbed.
The YMCA lake is populated by the ugliest geese and ducks you have ever seen. They look sort of mutant, with strange features that don’t seem natural. The Lady decided to scream repeatedly at the freakish fowls when we went to do the lake shot. I couldn’t really blame her.
We all ran down a hill for one shot. We told the kids to run “at” Jaime, the photographer. Boy 2 took us literally and nearly collided with her. Boy 1 considered this running thing to be a race and beat us all down the hill. This resulted in his complete absence in most of the hill pictures.
Mostly, though, it was fun, and we achieved some lovely shots. Miracles can happen, and here is the proof: