Given the choice between getting family pictures taken and getting food poisoning, I’d pick food poisoning every time. So when my husband gave me a gift certificate for a family portrait package, my, “Gee, thanks, honey…” was a little less than enthusiastic.
Anyone with children knows that family pictures drive more people apart than poor hygiene. Getting multiple children to sit still, stop picking their noses, remain clothed, smile, and look at the camera all at the same time is tricky choreography. It requires more than the simple alignment of planets; you must schedule to avoid naptime, mealtime, and general testiness, all while keeping everyone presentable for an agonizing amount of time. And with three children ages 2, 4, and 5, I knew we were in for one doozy of a sitting.
We showed up five minutes before our scheduled appointment with one fight under our belts. My husband Rich thought the pink and brown outfits I had coordinated made us look like frosted meatloaf while I argued that everything we were wearing came straight from an Old Navy display. Zack was already defiant, wiggling in my arms as our photographer told us she had to “arrange” our sitting.
And if things couldn’t get any worse, our photographer was a trainee. Poor woman. That’s like sending a security guard in to wrangle up the mafia. She was no match for our photo-resident children.
Our oldest, Kaleb, can smile on cue, but won’t sit close to his sister and is easily distracted by bright lights and photo props. Leah, while great in candid shots, has developed this strange fake smile where, while tilting her chin down, she looks up at the camera through her lashes and pouts (when asked why she smiles like that, she informed me that’s how all the Disney princesses smile. But that’s another column). Zack is, well, two and half. And I’ll be honest. Rich and I are poor ventriloquists, so while trying to smile and order our children to behave at the same time, we end up looking like bulldogs, our eerie grins exposing gritted teeth. The photographer was beat before she even set the flash to automatic.
“Say ‘cheese’,” she finally said.
“Food poisoning,” I thought and smiled just the same.
It took about an hour to finish our “family portrait package.” When she told us to come back in 15 minutes to pick our poses, we about sprinted from the studio. And after splitting three orders of pretzel bites in the food court we returned only to discover that our friendly photographer in training had accidentally deleted the only good group shot.
“But it’ll only take a minute to re-shoot,” she said, oh-so-optimistically.
So we’re safe for another year. And our family picture now hangs somewhat apologetically in our living room. I’ve tried to convince my husband that it’s quaint; with Zack trying to leap from my arms and Leah mid-pout, the picture did capture what our family life is all about. He remains unconvinced.
I wonder if they make Pepto Bismo for an upset photography session.