25 October 2012

Awkward Family Photos

In the great checklist of life experiences as a family, we have another rite of passage that we can now cross off: the long-standing tradition of the family photo. But forget about sweater vests and plastic smiles and phony backdrops. This shit is serious now. We skipped the old standbys like the Sears Portrait Studio and went straight to a pro. Going for realism. Naturalism. Candidness. Real settings. A field. Some downtown streets. Like I said, serious.

It’s the same with all things parenting these days. Cars and food and baby gear and everything else. It’s all serious. And complicated. What happened here? I don’t remember it being like this when I was a kid. Mostly because I think it wasn’t.

But there we were. Booking a photographer. Coordinating outfits. Two different versions, actually, for two different locations. Because you don’t want to clash, but you don’t want to match (at least, too much) either. And you have to be sure to optimize the cuteness of your kids, while also making sure it’s balanced. One can’t out-cute the other. That would be bad.

Of course, you don’t need to screw up their outfits for them to sabotage the photos. They’ll take care of that all on their own. Little Brother wouldn’t smile, while the Doozer just kept fake-smiling, thinking he was really smiling, clearly getting all up in his head about this whole smiling for the camera thing. Posing. Preening. It wasn’t pretty.

And Little Brother? Smiliest, happiest baby in the world until the camera got turned on him. What is that? This curious, quizzical look on his face. The whole time. I guess, thinking back, it was the same thing with the Doozer when he was younger. Always laughing and smiling, but then you try to take his picture and he goes all stone-faced and weird. Okay, listen, we get it, you want power, you want control, but there are definitely much better circumstances under which to exercise it and try it out. But photos are good things. Cameras can be your friends. Contrary to what some ancient beliefs and B-horror movies might say, they do not steal your soul. That’s a myth. We think.


While we haven’t seen all the results yet, our lovely photographer posted some initial shots to Facebook and it turns out it was not a complete disaster. Apparently, these are really photogenic little rugrats. How did that happen? Not really all that awkward, in the end. Not at all.

And here’s an interesting thing that happened as a result of the excursion. Sometimes it takes seeing that visual representation to remind you that you’re in a family now. A real, multi-dimensional, multi-member family. Because it’s easy to forget when it’s actually happening to you, all the time. You’re still you, you don’t seem to have changed, but now, you’re surrounded by all these people. Who are these people? Oh, right. You’re a unit. A team. This is how we’re perceived.

It seems to me it’s important to try and step out of it once in a while, see how other people see you. Oh,  this is what they see? To see the unit and the team. And to embrace that mentality. Because otherwise, it’s four disparate souls in a lifeboat and you’re just going to kill each other, when you really need to pull together to ensure your survival.

Or, at the very least, just take some very cute photos that make you seem like you should be in a fancy catalogue, like J. Crew or Boden or something. Really. We need to get on that. 

Anybody know anybody?

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