Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Family Portraits: A Miserable Ordeal

Every time we add a new kid to the family, Paul and I like to go into a studio and have a professional take a family portrait of us and a few of just the children. Unfortunately, things have been so busy since Lucy arrived that we had failed to make it in even though I bought two separate Groupon deals for local portrait studios and let them expire simply because I could not seem to nail down a time to drag everyone in there and get 'er done. After taking down all our framed photos in preparation for painting, I noticed that Lucy was not in any of them. If you were to walk into our house, you would still think we only had two kids and that they were about three years younger than they are now. I resolved that we would get those pictures taken.

I waited and finally found a good deal at a local studio and made a reservation a few days before Christmas. Then, Lucy took a nasty fall and came up with a bloody scratch under her left eye. That appointment got cancelled.

I then scheduled another appointment immediately after New Year's and Lucy once again foiled my plans by running into a door and adding a bulging bruise to the side of her cute little face. That appointment also got cancelled.

Finally, seeing that both Paul and Matthew had Martin Luther King Jr. Day off, I scheduled the appointment once more for that morning. The night before, Matthew and Emma got into a skirmish and Emma (who has been in a scratching phase) gave Matthew a terrible scratch that extended from the middle of his forehead all the way down to the middle of his cheek. I threw up my hands in despair! I was never going to get these pictures done without one of the kids looking like they had just come from a rugby match. Paul told me not to cancel it and we spent a bit of time rubbing lotion and other facial products into Matthew's face in the hopes that the swelling would go down. Thankfully, it was a surface scratch and barely broke the skin. The next morning, Matthew woke up looking pretty decent and I figured that I would just photoshop the rest of the scratch away. I gave my boys a haircut, bathed the girls, dolled everyone up as best I could (with the exception of Paul...he dressed himself!), and then headed to the appointment.

We arrived right on time, which is truly incredible for us, and the gal at the front desk informed us that there was another family in the studio at the moment but they would be with us shortly. Unfortunately, by "shortly" she meant another 30 minutes which proved to be a bit disastrous for our crew. The kids started to get antsy and, in an effort to relieve some of their pent-up energy, began taking laps around the room. Lucy, in particular, ran in small little circles so fast that I was sure she was going to be sick. Before we had left, Paul had insisted that both girls wear their hair down and I blow-dryed, styled, and had it looking pretty and shiny right before we left. Now, with all their rambunctious activity, Lucy's mane was hanging in her face making her look a bit savage and unkempt while Emma's fine blonde hair was sticking up ever which way thanks to the static. When our turn to be photographed finally arrived, Paul and I tried our darnedest to pat and smooth all the loose hair into place. Then came the fun part.

With the exception of Matthew, who was being surprisingly cooperative, our family proved to be impossible to photograph. Emma kept giving this weird tiny smile with glazed eyes that made her look like she was drooling and only half awake in every take. And that was only when she actually sat still and looked into the camera because she was more interested in bopping about and writhing when we tried to pose her. Lucy refused to smile or even look in the right direction, or kept creeping her tiny finger into her left nostril. Paul and I looked just looked tired, tense, and a tiny bit angry. "Maybe we should take a break from the group shot and try a couple individual pictures of the kids," the photographer said after about 100 takes failed to produce a decent shot.

So, we posed all three of the kids together and tried to capture their love and adulation for one another. At first, we tried having all three kids sit together, with Lucy in the middle, and Matthew and Emma's arms around her. Well, that caused a mutiny because heaven forbid they be allowed to touch one another. Next, we tried having all three kids lay on their stomachs, their chins resting in their hands, and smiling sweetly into the camera. Lucy refused to stay in this position and kept making a beeline for the door and her freedom. Emma kept dropping her face down to the ground the second before the photographer took the picture. Matthew wouldn't stop covering his entire mouth with his hand. And on top of everything, the girls' hair was so full of static that it kept drifting into their mouths and standing straight up so we had to stop and comb it/wet it down every couple minutes which of course induced more tears and tantrums. Overall, that pose was an absolute mess.

We finally got a decent shot of the kids sitting together on a cushion only because I was hiding right behind Lucy and holding her in place so she would stay put. Paul, in the meantime, kept making funny faces and telling jokes while the photographer just kept taking pictures. Out of about 60 clicks, we got one that worked. 

Next, we tried taking a few pictures of just Lucy. I like to have an individual pose of the "newest" child. I was really unhappy with these overall. It wasn't the photographer's fault, but rather largely because Lucy would not stay still. She also kept pulling at her hair and making weird faces (none of them cute or photogenic). All of us tried our best to coax a smile out of her from the sidelines - Matthew, Paul, Emma, me. We worked on her for a while and this was the best shot we got.

Meanwhile, Emma was raiding the props in the back of the room and Matthew had the sudden urge to use the bathroom. We took a small break before attempting to get a group shot once more. Paul just wanted to forget the whole thing and run but we had already paid for this session and I was determined to walk out with a decent family picture. Thankfully, there was nobody scheduled immediately behind us because our 15-minute session had already taken 90 minutes. I was so grateful to the studio for being so patient with us and allowing us to keep trying to coax a decent shot out of our kids. They wanted us to walk out with a decent picture as much as we did. 

When Paul and Matthew returned, we gathered once more and tried for a family photo. It didn't work any better. Emma had completely given up and could not be encouraged to smile. Lucy began to wail. Matthew was still cheery, but his patience was wearing thin. Finally, I asked if there was another photographer in the studio who might be able to aid in making sure the kids were looking in the right spot. A second photographer was ushered in and this lady was awesome. She was loud, she was funny, she knew how to pose people, and she knew how to work with kids. She walked into the room and completely took over. She changed up how we were sitting and began acting silly and telling jokes. Matthew and Emma thought she was hilarious while Lucy was absolutely terrified of her. So terrified, in fact, that she stopped crying and messing around and just sat still. Perfect. Emma and Matthew laughed and laughed as the camera clicked three times. Three shots later, we had the best picture out of the entire two hour session. Real smiles on Matthew and Emma - even showing off Emma's dimples. I was happy. And we were finally done!

We arrived back home completely exhausted but happy that we will not have to sit for another family portrait for at least another two years. It was a frustrating and miserable experience that neither of us are eager to repeat anytime soon. Anyone else find family portraits completely overwhelming?

1 comment:

  1. This made me laugh so many times although I'm sure it wasn't funny at the moment. 2 hours??? Our one experience with professional pictures was for the church directory a few years ago and that was a 10 minute session. I keep thinking we should actually get family pictures at some point but now I'm a little scared...