A Little Bit Western


Picture Perfect

Dec 17, 2015

‘Tis that magical time of year when homes are decorated, goodies are baked, families gather, and holiday traditions are upheld. One of my favourite things during the season is receiving updates from friends and family through their annual Christmas cards. It’s fun to open the mailbox and see stacks of notes from loved ones near and far, most of them including the quintessential family photo. You know the kind, the ones where impeccably dressed children beam at the photographer, while parents appear to be in love with each other, their children, and the world in general. Everything is perfect.

We too usually include a family photo in our Christmas card and I can tell you right now, obtaining that pretty picture can be a challenge. Whether you endeavour to get a flawless family picture or simply attempt to have all of your family members in one place at a single time with photographic proof, the process is easier said than done. The frustration level increases if the ages of the children are five or younger and it multiplies if any of your family members are male. There seems to be a lot of bargaining and organization and gnashing of teeth to get the show on the road.

Sometimes I attempt to capture a Christmas-card-worthy photo of my husband and me with our angelic little darlings and I set up a tripod, explain the process to everyone and hope for the best. Other years I get a photographer who has much more skill and patience than I to take our photos. This involves setting up an appointment, because while our family is often together, we are usually sporting mended chore clothes and dirt-spattered faces, hardly the shared vision that the photographer or I have for a shoot. I schedule a time, but usually have to reschedule at least once before I can finally herd our family towards our adaptable (and did I mention patient?) photographer.

Immediately prior to our session, I’m compelled to trim our kids’ hair as it grows shaggy seemingly overnight. The children have a (not entirely unfounded) fear that I will accidentally nick them during their trim, which means I usually have to distract them and reassure them that I won’t draw blood. Then repeat the process for all three heads.

Securing an outfit for everyone is the next step. Where are the shirts? Should I iron those shirts? Do I even have an iron? Now I’ve found the iron, but do I have an ironing board? I procure an ironing board but I think I had better dust it before I do anything else. Each child is later clothed in their predetermined outfit, and the real question remains, how do I keep everyone’s freshly ironed clothing clean for longer than two minutes?

After getting everyone else dressed, I quickly dress myself yet all of a sudden nothing fits right, nothing matches and somehow I become the person delaying the process. I quickly throw on a shirt that I purchased from a grocery store four years ago and hope it looks…fresh.

When I take the pictures ourselves, I’m pleased if at least one photo out of twenty captures 80% of the subjects looking sort of happy. I’ll take what I can get. Photographers however somehow magically capture lots of amazing pictures, probably because they know what they are doing and how to direct us. Lovely photos are the end goal, and yet I’m always drawn to the outtakes. Whether it’s a grumpy toddler photobombing the shot, or someone’s squinty (or angry!) eyes, or a parent embracing-but-really-gently-restraining a child, those photos seem to be the most authentic representations of a picture session. Part of me would like to actually use one such outtake for our Christmas card some year. It would certainly stick out.

From our house to yours, have a wonderful picture perfect Christmas.

Nov072015_4786 REDUCED

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