Recently we signed up for a photo session at our church for the upcoming, new photo directory. My fears were on high alert as I worried about how the experience would play out. The reminders encouraged us to wear coordinating outfits and maybe even to bring along something that was meaningful for our family—instruments, pets, etc. I giggled a bit over this suggestion as I wasn’t sure what we would use to symbolize our family unit. My husband and I holding a glass of wine? The boys banging on pots and pans with ripped holes in the knees of their jeans? Our dog, Sally, gracing the center of our photograph drooling with anxiety?
Well, the fated day arrived and we got there on time. My youngest was in tears as I restrained him during his attempts to make a break for the outside play area. The session eventually began and we were positioned into various family shapes and facial contortions—-chin up, head tilted, eyes up here! Using the photographer’s dog toy, he was able to get a few shots of the boys which actually looked cute. As we finally corralled them, away from the lighting umbrellas, backdrops and camera instruments, we entered the viewing area to choose our favorite shots—time for the infamous “sales pitch”! While attempting to keep my youngest away from the easels of framed portrait examples and the photographer’s computer, we found out that there had been a technical difficulty and we had to retake the photos.
I think I let out an audible, animalistic cry of death. Of course the small window of “behaving” had passed and even promises of ice cream and bribery of treats didn’t work. Our youngest was DONE. The challenges continued with the memory card and we were ushered back and forth a few times. Finally, we managed to get one shot—awkward as it was, that could work.
I left that experience in need of a stiff drink and some alone time. It was painful. Mere days later, we were back at church and grabbed a quick shot on Easter of our family. It is a picture that I love. We aren’t perfect, but it’s US. We are outside. Our clothes are a little disheveled, despite it being Easter, but we are all in it and smiling and it seems natural.
As an amateur photographer, I love capturing life in still frames. The moments I succumb to canned phrases—“BOYS! LOOK AT MOMMY!!!! CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE!!!! Eyes up HERE! Would you just SMILE!??!?!”—I find that the boys get annoyed quickly and just run off, not putting up with my attempts to capture them “naturally”. When I just click away, amidst the messiness of daily life and living, I seem to catch the best shots. Moments that tell a story. Pictures that share rawer emotions and real life.