The Family Photo

The idyllic family photo: everyone wants one, or many, spanning across the years of their growing family.

I’ve been a bit behind in partaking in this ritual, never yet having had professional portraits taken. I knew it would happen eventually, I just figured we could wait until our family was complete to try for that lovely photo that gets blown-up onto a canvas and hung above a mantel.

So, while I lack a mantel, I do have a family that is complete and so it was about time.
With a session booked, I voraciously went to work coordinating outfits. After all, putting together any four complete outfits is a chore, but these must go together in such a way as to not clash - but yet avoid bringing back visions of the matching 80's family picture wherein everyone has on the same color shirt and the same color pants to go with their big hair. Coordination that looks accidental is the goal. (And there will be no big hair.)

I pick up a new shirt for my son and a new blouse for myself. I open my husband’s closet and pick a dress shirt in the right color family. Then for my daughter: she'll need a darling dress. And a sweater to go with it. And tights. And a bow. And matching shoes.
Nice, coordinated outfits for all: done.
During what is otherwise a month of continual sunshine, the morning of my family’s shoot arrives with rain in the forecast. It is unseasonably cold and the wind is ripping across our coastal city. However, it took my sweet photographer and me two months to settle on a date that worked with everyone’s schedules; we're not canceling.
So, the four of us roll up to our meeting place, in said outfits, in the middle of a coastal storm.

We attempted to arrange a time of day in which our infant daughter will (A) be awake and (B) not be eating. This of course fails miserably; she falls asleep on the drive there and is cranky when we arrive. She wants to eat and completely lacks interest in gracing the photographer with her face. This is fun. Also, her specially ordered shoes and little pink headband will not stay on no matter how many times I reapply them.

My son is so cold I pull his old, fleece jacket from the back of the car and slip it on over his new shirt. So much for my meticulous coordinating.

My husband is notorious for eyes-closed photos, so while he has given this day no premeditation whatsoever, he is currently feeling stressed over the pressure to make sure his eyes are open in each shot. He doesn’t want to get blamed for "spoiling" the one good picture.

And, I'm discovering it was inaccurate to assume I had a pair of jeans that would fit in this post-maternity, but-no-longer-wearing-maternity stage. To the contrary, I find myself in a strange pair I didn’t know I owned that are, I’m pretty sure, cutting off blood-flow to the organs beneath the cinched-tight waist.

Yes, just perfect. We are ready to capture that flawless moment of beauty to idolize on the wall of our home for years to come.
Or maybe not flawless. Maybe just a picture of us, as we are.

My son, who crabbily tolerated this entire affair so as to get a promised hot chocolate at the end, will have blue lips and an ugly jacket on in every picture. But he'll smile his perfectly sweet almost-4-yr-old smile at least a few times. My husband will look perfectly handsome, every time he manages to keep his squinty eyes open. My daughter’s astonishingly-long baby-hair will flop wildly into her eyes, sans the headband that won’t stay on, and she will rarely look up from her knees. But this is her at 4 months, precious in her still young infancy. And as for myself, well, let's just say that I won't see myself with the magnifying glass that you do before you have multiple other people to also get right in a photo.

So, we will just be us - genuine us - to hang on our mantel-less wall.


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