The perfect photo for our annual Christmas card is my seasonal Holy Grail. And by “perfect” I lower the bar to mean a photo that’s in focus, perhaps one in which all subjects are looking at the camera and not picking their noses, and smiling (smiling is a bonus).
I recently took the girls to get their holiday pictures made by a professional photographer. The hubby’s office gave us a gift certificate for four portrait sessions when Amelia was born. Being the certified slacker parent that I am I have only taken advantage of this twice in 20 months. The photographer did a great job last year so I decided to once again schedule an outdoor portrait session. Just pinpointing a date when the weather was nice and when the baby didn’t have a runny nose or a scratch, scab, or other dinged up toddler gone wild mark on her face was a challenge. And we won’t talk about the ridiculous amount of energy I put into finding matching outfits for them. I know in a few years that matching red gingham outfits embroidered with their names and Santa’s head will be about as cool as me dropping them off at the mall and shouting “I love you girls! Chicken and rice casserole at 6!” within earshot of their friends.
Last year we hiked down to a creekbed near the photographer’s home because what better photo shoot location for a 7-month-old baby than a creekbed? Seriously, what was I thinking? Amelia was more interested in scraping mossy filth with her fingernails, shoving leaves in her mouth, and flinging herself into the creek then in demurely sitting and smiling. Literally one photo turned out to be Christmas card worthy and Caitlin is hanging on to Amelia to keep her from wiggling away. This year I decided to skip the creekbed nightmare and the photographer had a big pile of leaves on her back patio for the girls to plop down in. And besides, the photos are closeups and a pile of leaves is a pile of leaves.
Here are a few tricks deployed by myself and the photographer to entice the girls to look at the camera:
Poke your kids with a feather duster on a long pole (aka tickle stick that is first demonstrated on mommy), the kind you’d use to clean a ceiling fan, to get them to laugh or at least smile in bemusement over the neverending weirdness of adults.
Toss leaves joyfully in the air while maniacally screaming “Leaves! Pretty leaves! LOOK AT THE PRETTY LEAVES!”
Shrilly repeat your child’s name in a high-pitched voice that scares every dog within a five-mile radius, while wildly waving your hands above your head.
When all else fails, just plead “Say Cheese” while flashing the biggest, goofiest grin you can muster. And again, the wild waving of hands is recommended. And if “cheese” elicits a really goofy grin, you can try something original like, “show me the money!”
When the whole exhausting photo shoot is over, you’ll look at your watch and swear that at least five hours of your life have ticked away, not just one. Reward yourself with plenty of chocolate and perhaps a margarita or three.
p.s. I recently discovered Picture This, a great photography blog. Tracey has some wonderful ideas for posing your kids and they don’t involve bribing them with Happy Meals or shrieking like an idiot.