Say Cheese!

I always have my boys’ photos done in the summer.  It’s just easier on our schedules, and since I only have their official portrait made once a year, summer just works out best.

But this year I decided to deviate from the norm.  I wanted a family photo, too.  We haven’t had a professional family photo taken since before my youngest was born.  (I know– I’m horrible).  So, I enlisted the services of my very talented and amazing friend, Marion, from Marion’s Photography

Not only was she going to do a family session, she was going to do some head shots for me so that I’d have some professional photos for my blog, etc.  And since my normal go-to photography place is Walmart (don’t judge– I have cute portraits of my boys!), actually scheduling a session with a professional photographer who happens to be a friend was like graduating up to the big time!

The day of our session came and the only thing I prayed for was low humidity.

We started early to try to beat the heat, but even at 8:45am, Georgia thermometers were registering in the 80s, and the humidity was at 8000%.  Seriously.  We might as well have been in the rainforest.  With each minute we were out there, the heat went up one degree.

But my amazing, acrobatic photographer friend worked like a camera wizard, snapping shots as quickly as possible in order to give my hair a fighting chance against the poof that was threatening to take over.  And she brought her adorable pre-teen daughter as her assistant who helped keep me smiling.

When my husband and boys showed up for their portion, my eldest son cooperated very well.  He smiled for the camera.  But for some reason, he takes saying “cheese” literally and his smile for a camera, any camera, is bigger than his face.  Hey, it might not be a natural smile, but it’s a smile, so I’ll take it.

But my two year old was another story.  He smiled, all right, but he would not look at the camera for anything.  Isn’t that they way it always goes?

After several minutes of wrangling them and trying to dance and sing and basically make myself look like an idiot so that my little one would look at the camera, we decided to do the family shot.

By that point my oldest was obsessed with the train tracks nearby and just wanted to play on them.

“Look at the camera,” I’d say through clenched teeth as I held my smile.

“I am, Mom!” my 5 year old would respond as he looked up to my face. *camera click*

“No!!!!” the two year old would squeal as he looked everywhere but at the camera. *camera click*

By this point I was sweating even more, thinking there’s no way there’s gonna be a good family shot in all this.  My husband was standing there, staring at the camera, waiting for someone to tell him what to do while I was working my best poses.  I learned everything I know from America’s Next Top Model.  Marion sweetly directed us into our proper positions.  Apparently the “flopped over like a willow tree” pose that I learned from Tyra Banks wasn’t really going to work for a family photo.

Marion was so sweet with my boys, and very, very patient with all of us.  Besides her daughter, she has three young boys of her own, so her mommy-skills were definitely helpful.  And she understood my vanity in wanting to get a shot in which I didn’t look like I had a poodle on my head, so we worked against the elements.  (There would have been less humidity if it had actually been raining.)

And since we were outside, of course the mosquitoes were attacking me.  I asked Marion to please Photoshop out the red streaks on my arms from where I was scratching.

Marion then suggested we do some shots on the tracks.  Since my boys are train-obsessed, this was a cool idea.

“Now this is the life,” my oldest said when he reached the tracks.  I pulled out some toys and they began playing with them while Marion’s camera clicked away.

“Do you think they’ll walk?” Marion asked.

“Sure.”  So we told them to walk on the tracks.

But first we had to convince the oldest one that the tracks were not currently being used, and no, a train is not going to “come around the bend” and squish them.

All was well until my 5yo tried to hold the 2yo’s hand.  Then the 2yo proceeded to scream and yell, “NO!”  He was done.  He ran.  He fell.  He hates dirt on his hands, so now he was obsessed with getting the dirt off, so he wiped them all over his perfectly clean shirt.  He looked at me, sweat pouring down his little face, his hair matted to his head and said, “Time to go home.”

My husband, although sweating buckets in the heat, stayed very calm and cool through it all.

At this point, I look like I’ve been swimming, the humidity has turned my hair into its own swamp creature, and I’m begging the kids to stand still for one more shot.  And I’m laughing, because I should have known better than to believe that we’d get the boys to sit or stand still and look at the camera.

One shot, I was thinking.  All I need is one shot to hang on our wall and show that we really are a happy family.

My two year old threw his hands in the air and screamed, “It’s time to go home!”  (As if we didn’t hear him the first time.) Marion did get a shot of that.

What an amazing and talented photographer friend I have.  Somehow she used her magical talent and managed to capture memories that I’ll cherish forever.  See below!  She’s so good that she knew how to make and anticipate the accidents that would look like incredible, planned photos.  Maybe I should have just claimed that those were planned shots…

I’ve learned some things from this experience.
1. When your photographer has children the same age as your kids, it certainly helps with compassion and understanding.
2. Even children don’t function well in 8000% humidity.
3. Photographers are part acrobat.  Marion was able to get herself into some crazy positions to get the best shot.  She’s amazing.
4. Two year olds do not smile on command.  I actually knew this before we began, but I had delusions of grandeur.
5. Photographers have amazing minds.  They can “see” things that I can’t see and that fascinates me.
6.  Next year I won’t book our session in July.  I’ll shoot for October.  Or perhaps January.

I hope and pray that Marion didn’t laugh her way through editing our shots.  I’m afraid our session might look like a blooper reel and that we might end up on one of those “Awkward Family Photo” websites by accident.  Hope not.

So here’s my shameless plug.  Check out Marion’s website (link above!).  If you live in or near west Georgia, and need a fantastic photographer, you should book a session with her.  She’s amazing in all ways and God has truly blessed her with talent!

 Share with me: Do you have any good stories to go along with some of your favorite photos?


Filed under Family, Just For Fun, Parenting

4 responses to “Say Cheese!

  1. Oh my goodness! Amazingly beautiful!! Seriously, Jenny! Breathtaking!

  2. If you haven't seen the episode of "Raising Hope" about the family photos, you have to watch it. In my family, we never had a decent family photograph (and there were 9 of us, can you imagine?) There was a beautiful portrait of my mother and the two oldest, and another of the six oldest children, but not one that included me! We got a shot of the family later in life, but it was just a snapshot, not very good. I wish we'd tried harder.

  3. P.S. Your photos are beautiful.

  4. Thanks, Kara! And I have seen that episode of Raising Hope! 🙂 I bet a lot of families have similar experiences to the one we had this week!

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