I used to be incredibly dutiful about it. For years and with the first 4 kids I had semi-professional photos taken of them at sometime around birth, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years, 3 years, etc. It was a pain to make sure we had appointments and outfits ready and dealing with all the nonsense involved was a chore but I did it and I have the photos to prove it.
Then came the digital camera. The really fabulous digital camera that made it possible for me to take photos I could be proud of. Combine that with the ability to print out essentially the same sizes the studios offer and suddenly there was no way I was going to waste my time at JC Penney or Target anymore.
Before all this I had as many sittings as I could done at the Target Portrait Studio in Lacey WA. This way I could have Grandma available to help corral the outlaws. It was always a production and I’d never know who would be able to handle it and who would have a meltdown. You’d never know if there would be an unmanageable wait or a photographer with painful suggestions such as woodland backgrounds and artificial flowers. I remember one woman who, instead of saying something like, “Say Cheese!”, asked them to say “Stinky farts!”. They smiled and laughed but as you can imagine, I was hearing that for weeks.
Add to all this the coupon cutting to get the best possible deal, the appointments necessary to pick up the photos, and the unrequested sheets they’d print out to lure you into buying more (who wants to think of photos of their precious kids in the trash?) and I was more than happy to start taking my own.
So why am I writing about this today? Because I found myself this afternoon, about two months after their birthdays, taking photos of Michael and Sierra. It’s not as though I didn’t take any photos on or near their big days, just not the kind I’d hang on the wall. I definitely need to get more dutiful about this. It’s hard though when they’re at that age when they just don’t want to smile for the camera. We use the same backdrop each year now; a huge sycamore in the front yard with a worn patch of dirt in front where they stand. Even Josh knows the drill and hops right up when it’s his turn. Still, the big kids look so serious.
Today Kenny helped me out. I was having trouble getting Sierra to quit grimacing but having no luck. He picked up a fallen branch and approached Sierra like he was a boom mic operator. He began asking her interview questions to see if he could crack a smile:
“What are your feelings about lactose-free cheese?”
One question and I got the shot I was after—that boy is good!