I never sent birth announcements for our sons. We don’t do holiday cards. (But I really do love getting yours, so please keep us on your list.) No one is shouting out the adorable Quinn family on Facebook or blogging about how delightful it was taking our pictures in the dewy field that weekend morning.
Historically, the phrase “professional photographs” makes my teeth hurt. And so I don’t do them.
On the other hand, Andrea, my way cooler little sister, loves preserving family moments professionally. To give you a landscape of her diligence versus my neglect on this matter, Nora, my glorious niece and goddaughter, is one year old and they’ve already had professional family photographs taken three times. My boys are four and five and we’ve had our photos taken once. But I thought I looked awful in all the shots, and we never did anything with them.
So…a couple weeks before we celebrated an early Christmas with my parents in Kansas, and Andrea was all, “Sister, I’ve arranged for a photographer to come to Mom and Dad’s house Saturday when you’re in town so we can get some pictures taken of all of us,” I was all, “Oh. Uhh. Ok. That’s…really…nice.”
And she was all: “Dude! What’s your deal?”
And I was all: “Ok, I don’t really know. I just hate getting pictures taken.”
And she was all: “Why!?!?”
Because I feel pressure to look happy and perfect and amazing all at once. I spend so much energy trying not to worry about appearances and then I’m supposed to pose at flattering angles and ask my kids to smile so that we have a happy family memory preserved in excellent lighting? My childhood memories of professional photos include all the women in our family picking at each other and their daughters and telling them to stand up straight and hold their tummies in and it wasn’t fun at all. But what I really hate is the part of me that will pick at my own kids, sweep the boys’ hair with my fingers, tell them to smile and bribe the little guys with candy if they will just stop hiding their faces in my torso. I can’t be expected to look delighted when in fact I’m petrified that, when these pics come back, I’ll find myself looking stressed out and very much the opposite of a gleaming mother.
I don’t remember if I spoke this aloud to her at the time, but it doesn’t matter because my sister knows how I feel about all this, and she’s given me one or two great pep talks on WHY it’s important to get photos taken.
What I did say was this: “Whatever happens, know that I appreciate you wanting to preserve these memories. And I ask you to give me a lil room to figure out what my deal is. I promise to try really hard not to suck when it comes time to get our pics taken.”
And she was all: “Cool.”
So, the second Saturday in December, I made myself look a lot like a news anchor, the Quinn men and I got all dressed up in shades of blue and purple, and we snuggled together in front of the wall in my parents’ living room.
And, know what? It was actually kinda fun. It could’ve been the ease, grace and eye of the photographer, or the fact that she used to be a pediatric nurse and knew just how to talk to my boys—one who was being a touch obnoxious and the other defiantly reticent. Or it could’ve been the fact that my enjoyment of the group and the day conjured some primal desire to capture an official portrait of our family. Whatever it was, the fact is, I’m glad we did it.
You probably still won’t find giant portraits of four Quinns dressed in coordinating colors on the walls of my home or in your mailbox in December, but I bet we’ll do this again before another five years go by.
See here for more images from the shoot with Lori Ruf, and check out Lori’s work at Lemon Tree Photography. And, KC peeps, hook it up with her next time you want your pix done. She’s vivacious, easy to be around and great with the childrens. Everybody’s happy.