Thursday, August 21, 2014

Short, mostly unedited: Picture

Every year around Thanksgiving my husband and I grab one of our friends and ask nicely, "Can you talk a picture of our family in front of this tree/cactus/flowering shrub?" If our relatives and friends are lucky, this photo ends up as our Christmas card. It may be the only family picture we take all year. We have never had a professional portrait taken of us all together.

This trend started with the wedding. Even then we were not willing to pay a professional. A friend of my sister's offered to take both the engagement and wedding pics, and we gladly accepted. The pictures were not bad at all, but they were not the glossy, perfectly-staged, marvelously-lit, photo-shopped masterpieces of so many other couples.

Not movie stars, but very happy

And so it continues, not a single perfect family portrait. Not one couple's picture that makes us look like stunning, impossibly perfect movie stars.

Yeah, sure, we've gotten school pics of the kids - but not both fall and spring. We've gotten sport pictures, but not a whole portfolio. We've gone on vacation and caught cute moments, but often we've gone to capture those sweet stills of time and realized we forgot our camera. That has been a chronic problem.

One time when coming home from vacation, I told the kids not to worry. If they wanted to see pictures of themselves, they could always ask Aunt Vinca. We know she takes lots of pictures of her loved ones.

Alright, that was a joke. It's not as bad as that. We usually take 10 or so pictures on birthdays and five on Christmas morning. But we, regrettably, never even thought to take the month-by-month-baby-growth snapshots. And just this year I realized that I didn't perform that essential mommy task of capturing my little angels as they flitted off back to school that first morning. I mistakenly thought that tradition ended with kindergarten.

This awkward list of my deficiencies in camera manipulation could get me kicked out of certain Mom's clubs, I'm pretty certain.

But, still, I regret I didn't get those back-to-school pics this year (and I felt guilty as heck when I realized I was maybe the only mom who didn't post such adorable time-keepers on Facebook). I also wish I had more photos of me and my man making out for the lens in a field of wildflowers (if we were ever in a field of wildflowers?) or just smiling and clasping hands on a beach. And I certainly wish I didn't have to tell my dad that, sorry, we don't have any fancy pictures of Daniel, because he's not in school yet.

The only thing I can say in my defense is that all my years of growing up in Tennessee, my parents had the same four pictures of their kids up on the living room shelf. They never switched them out for more recent renderings. They were taken all in the same year, and we were for 11 years frozen in time just outside the kitchen door. I will always see myself as a chubby, golden-brown haired, slightly cross-eyed four-year-old.

Okay, that's not a very good defense in this age of never-ceasing technological advancement. Maybe I'm just not a photographer; it's not my medium. A picture is worth a thousand words, but even five hundred words do more than take a picture.

I love my kids madly, but the proof is in the time playing or conversing with, the discipline of, and the raising up of these timeless treasures known as our children, not in the family portraits. And you can bet that I have grabbed that camera to capture their sweet, silly, messy, outrageous and candid moments - provided the battery wasn't dead when I found it. And, yes, some of my favorite photos are from vacation when I snapped away happily as my family was collecting shells, jumping waves, or standing by exotic animals. But there have been times when a camera felt like a burden and the absence of its demanding weight felt like the freedom to enjoy the moment more thoroughly and more presently.

Still, this October our family will, for the first time ever, have a family portrait taken, and you can bet Danny will have his own glossy headshot.

So if you are a close relative, and I do actually remember to send out these pictures with the Christmas cards, don't ever say I never gave you nothin'. I may even send out the last two years of school and sports pics with them. Never fear, though, we won't let the professional photography go to our head. On Thanksgiving we'll still have our picture taken in our friend's backyard by some cypress tree or rose bush - just for old time's sake.


  1. looking forward to receiving the photos.....

  2. My dear, you will NEVER be kicked out of my mom's club for not posting pictures! (But I would like one of those fancy professional ones if you have an extra at the end of the day. ; ) But of course, I would also be perfectly happy with the one in front of a cactus!) (Camille)


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